1970 Porsche 917K Pilots: H. Herrmann, R. Attwood Team: Porsche Salzburg Race: 1st overall (class S) at Le Mans in 1970 Spark - 43LM70 (resin)
Porsche’s first foray at Le mans was in 1951, already with the mentality that improvements created for the race cars could transfer to their passenger cars. But with time the manufacturer turned it’s sights to an overall victory. However, up to the 60’s, Porsche cars were more suited for fast and nimble tracks, and the necessary production of a minimum of 50 cars hampered the brand’s commitment to develop a car specifically for Le Mans. Finally, in 1969 the rule changed: a manufacturer only needed to produce 25 cars for homologation purposes. So with less than ten months to go before the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche started working on a completely new engine and a suitable chassis.
The chassis was a tubular frame, basically the same one used for the 908, but made of aluminum instead of steel to save weight. The suspension was composed of fully independent wishbones, with titanium coil springs. The engine was an all new flat-12 with 4.5 l and DOHC that produced a massive 580 hp. It had a Bosch fuel injection system and was air-cooled, with a big fan fitted on top.
Porsche rushed the project, and when the car debuted in 1969, it was a disaster. Three cars entered the race, but none finished. In fact, one crashed in the first lap and the pilot John Woolfe died. The car needed a solution, so for 1970 Porsche decided to leave the 917 program to private teams. These teams (Martini Racing, JWA Gulf Racing and Porsche Salzburg) received full factory-support. And with input from them, engineers developed a shorter tail section. With that fix, the 917K was ready – and the car was good! So on June 14th, 1970, after a race full of accidents because of the torrential rain, the 917K #23 crossed the line in first place. Porsche finally had their coveted Le Mans win.
The 917K, and specifically this one (as well as the 917K #20), always was a grail model for me. I know a LOT of cars that raced at Le Mans. However, in my mind this is the car that epitomizes the race. So of course I had to get Spark’s resin version. Top notch model, finely detailed and with a killer paint job – so far my best Spark model. A grail model, and I’m really happy with it!