50 Years of the Porsche 917 – Colours of Speed

POSTED: 07/06/2019

This year possibly the most prominent racing car in Porsche motor racing history is celebrating its 50th birthday: the Porsche 917. The Porsche Museum is honouring the 50th anniversary of the racing sport icon from 14 May to 15 September 2019 as part of a comprehensive special exhibition entitled “50 Years of the Porsche 917 – Colours of Speed”. A total of 14 exhibits – including ten 917 models alone with a total of 7,490 PS – will be on show.

917- 001 restored to its original 1969 condition
The Group 4 sports car, which was developed to secure an overall win at Le Mans 24 hour race and to win the World Championship for Makes, was manufactured in 1969 and was the first of a total of 25 vehicles required for type approval. The Number One marks the start of the unprecedented success story of the 917 racing car, and is therefore the highlight of the special exhibition. For more than a year, museum mechanics, former technicians and engineers from Zuffenhausen and Weissach, the Porsche AG historic archive, as well as partner companies, have worked on restoring this first 917. It is now in exactly the same condition as it was on 12 March 1969, when it was presented to the world at the Geneva Motor Show.

917 short-tail – the Le Mans winners of 1970 and 1971
Two further highlights of the special exhibition are both winning vehicles of the Le Mans 24 hour race from 1970 and 1971. In 1970, Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood drove the 917 KH (short-tail) with start number 23 and in the world-famous red-white Salzburg Design to the first of so far 19 overall wins for Porsche at the circuit on the River Sarthe. The following year, Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep managed to repeat this success. Covering a distance of 5,335 km with an average speed of 222.3 km/h, they set two records that were to remain unbeaten for 39 years.

A detailed look at the fascinating technology of the Porsche 917
Alongside seven other 917 models – including the 917 PA Spyder, which became a test car with 16-cylinder engine, as well as the long-tail and turbo versions – the special exhibition also provides an in-depth insight into its technology. The fine art of the twelve-cylinder engine designed by Hans Mezger is illustrated by numerous small exhibits such as crankshafts, piston and cylinder sleeve sets, camshafts and turbochargers. Glass-fibre components from the restoration phase of the 917- 001 demonstrate the high standard of body construction at the time.