1969 Porsche 917LH Pilots: R. Attwood, V. Elford Team: Porsche System Engineering Race: DNF (S 5.0) at Le Mans in 1969 Ebbro - 43749 (diecast)
In 1968 the Commission Sportive Internationale (the competition arm of the FIA) decreed a rule change. From 1969 to 1971 to compete in the sport category of the International Championship of Makes (later the World Sportscar Championship) manufacturers needed only 25 cars instead of the previously mandatory 50 cars for homologation. That was the push Porsche needed to start the development of a Le Mans winner. Based on their current 908, in 10 months the first 917 was ready. The engineering department at Stuttgart simultaneously developed two cars, the 917K (“Kurzheck”) and the 917LH (“Langheck”). The later was specifically for Le Mans. To power the brand’s new hope for their first victory at La Sarthe, an all-new engine was necessary. And that was the groundbreaking Type 912. It was a 4494 cm³ flat-12 (180º V-12, not a boxer) with DOHC and 24 valves.
At La Sarthe in 1969 Porsche fielded two 917LH models, cars #12 and #14. On qualification #14 car was the fastest, while #12 was in second. On race day, for the first 20 hours of the race the works cars were in the lead. However, 917LH #14 had to abandon on lap 147 because of an oil leak. Things looked good for the factory team, but only until the 327th lap. With a six laps advantage on the second place, 917LH #12 (chassis #917-008) retired with a broken gearbox.
Porsche would have to wait another year to finally conquer Le Mans, but with a 917K. Interesting to see how such a shorter car could be so much more stable than the LH. And the difference in length is all behind the rear wheel. Though a DNFer in 1969, Ebbro made a winner in 1:43. I’m a big fan of Ebbro’s racing cars, and this one is another example of their VERY good craftsmanship. Maybe not a model for all collectors, but being the first 917 at Le Mans it was a must buy.