Porsche 917K test car – Spark

1969 Porsche 917K test car 
Spark - #88/400 (resin)

Published 07/15/18

In their haste to have a car that actually had winning chances at La Sarthe in 1969, Porsche rushed the 917 project, so when the car debuted it was a real pig to drive. Without knowing exactly what was wrong with the car, for 1970 Porsche decided to leave the 917 program to private teams. But to keep an eye on everything, these teams would receive full factory support.

According to Mr. Ferdinand Piech, white was a “proper race car color”.

With full backing by Porsche, in early 1970 one of these teams was JWA Gulf Racing. They started to work on the 917 and Wyer’s chief engineer, John Horsman, discovered that the car handled poorly because of low down-force on the rear. So Horsman fabricated a new rear section that basically fixed the car. Chassis 917-024 (short tail or “Kurz Hack”) was  upgraded with the new rear, and in early 1970 Porsche used it specifically for testing the new body and a new front axle at Weissach.

Being the mighty 917, the car looks good from any angle.

With the handling issues fixed, the 917K was finally ready for Le Mans, and on April 4th, 1970, for pre-training for the race, 917-024 was at La Sarthe. Piloted by Brian Redman, it was painted in “factory test white”, sporting #22. As an interesting side note, during those pre-training sessions, Steve McQueen and his company Solar Productions were also at La Sarthe. The filming crew was there capturing footage and McQueen was doing research for Michael Delaney, the main character on his upcoming Le Mans movie. In fact, 917-024 is thought to have been used as a camera car on the film. The 917K (chassis #917-23) ended up bringing Porsche’s first overall victory at La Sarthe, and Le Mans, released in 1971, became McQueen’s magnum opera.

Not your average Spark box.

With all that history behind it, buying this model was a no-brainer decision for me. Expensive decision, I’ll admit, but a 917 from Le Mans and one that has connections to Le Mans the movie? Take my money 🤑! This is a special edition from Spark, made to order for Endurance-Info.com. It has a special package and and mine is #88. The bottom line? It’s a regular 917K from Spark (= friggentastic 1:43), but in a different outer box and plinth. And more expensive. But in my defense the model is a real looker, and Spark did a bang-up job on it. With the 917 being my all-time favorite race car, I gladly paid and here it is.


Published 07/17/18

Ah, now it’s right.

I didn’t spot this at first, but a fellow member at S143 (old 1:43 forum that shut down a few years ago) pointed this detail out. If you look at pics of the real car, you can notice that something is different.  It doesn’t have a number on the left-hand side door! Therefore, being a sucker for historical accuracy, I just couldn’t leave my model wrong. Since the numbers are just decals, it was only a matter of scratching it out with my finger nail. And now it’s more historically accurate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *