Porsche 917LH #21 – Minichamps

1970 Porsche 917LH 
Pilots: V. Elford, G. Larrousse
Team: Martini International Racing Team
Race: DNF (Class S5.0) at Le Mans in 1971
Minichamps - 430716721 (diecast)

Published 07/26/08

Porsche 917LH #12 (06/17/18):
In 1968 the Commission Sportive Internationale (the competition arm of the FIA) decreed that from 1969 to 1971 to compete in the sport category of the International Championship of Makes (later the World Sportscar Championship) manufacturers only would have to produce 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, and based on their current 908, in 10 months the first 917 was produced. The engineering department at Stuttgart simultaneously developed two cars, the 917K (“Kurzheck”) and the 917LH (“Langheck”), the later specifically for Le Mans. To power the brand’s new hope for their first victory at La Sarthe, an all-new engine was developed, the groundbreaking Type 912, a 4494 cm³ flat-12 (180º V-12, not a boxer) with DOHC and 24 valves.

917LH #21
Looks heavy from this angle, but looks deceive.

1969 was the first year of the 917 at La Sarthe, but it was a total disaster. Basically, the car had some very serious aerodynamic issues. For 1970 however, after major input from John Weyer and his JWA Gulf team, the car became a winner. Chassis #917-042 was one of the new cars with the aerodynamic fixes. It also had a new and bigger engine (the same  Typ-912 but expanded to 4.9 l). Basically the same flat-12 with 24 valves and DOHC, but enlarged to 4907 cm³. It raced in 1970 for the Salzburg team, but on lap 225 the engine swallowed an inlet valve. In 1971 it was back, this time for the Martini team, as 917LH #21. Unfortunately, at one third of the race, a drive-pin in the engine fan broke. Consequently the engine literally lost its cool, overheated and seized.

917LH × 3

After Le Mans the car never raced again. From 1971 until 1984 it was an attraction either at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart or at Weissach. In 1984, after a full restoration, it was loaned out to the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Since then, the car has been busy. It alternates between museum duty, historic races and shining at a few special international historic motorsport events. This is my third 917LH, but without a doubt it’s my favorite. Yes, the Hippie car was the first art car, but I think this one is the coolest of the Langhacks. Besides, I had it in 1:18, so it’s kind of back to the origins acquisition. In 1:43 the 917LH #21 is no Spark, just an “honest Minichamps”, but nice enough.

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