After receiving unsatisfactory results in the initial races, Porsche got worried about the competition that came from Ferrari’s new car
with a 512 bhp engine. The car did not perform well on the racing track as it did on the drawing board. Then Porsche decided to deal with the race customer John Wyer, a renowned racing car engineer, and sponsor Gulf Oil, a leading oil company. The significance of the deal was actually reflected when Porsche painted its 917 with orange and blue that symbolized the colours of John Wyer and Gulf Oil, respectively.
The skilled and talented group of John Wyer designed new bodywork with increased downforce and was named as 917 K or Short Tail. The so-called Short-Tail model was designed for heavily twisting roads where high contact pressure was of utmost significance especially for fast cornering. Thereafter, in 1970 Porsche while planning for the 24 Hours of Le Mans felt the need of a long tail car model. In response, a more aerodynamic car body was developed which had lower drag and better stability that was actually missing in the 1969 Porsche 917.
Thereafter, in 1972 Porsche introduced a new variant of the 917 with turbocharged engine that produced an awesome 1,000 bhp. This was followed by the launch of the 917 Spyders that were used in the CanAm and Interseries races.
Overall, Porsche had produced about 65 units of the Porsche 917. Out of the total 65 units, 44 sports cars were introduced as short-tail and long-tail coupés, 2 PA Spyders, and 19 sports cars as CanAm and Interseries Spyders.
Porsche 917 has made a successful racing record. Most of the ardent racing fans recognize the 917 because of the two consecutive victories of Porsche John Wyer / Gulf Oil 917 at the LeMans. Hans Herrmann was the one who drove the 917 LH long tail to victory in both 1970 and 1971. After this victory, this Porsche’s racing car was outstandingly featured in the movie “LeMans”.
In 1970, Porsche confirmed its superiority with the 917 after winning the Racing Series World Championship in nine out of ten possible victories. The sweetest success was the victory at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race for which Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood brought the winner’s trophy home to Zuffenhausen on June 14, 1970.
In another season of 1971, Porsche won the Racing Series World Championship with its 917 with eight out of ten victories.
Today, Porsche 917 has completed 40 years of glorious success in the racing industry. It still retains its position and significance in the industry. It is believed that about 50 international motor sports experts from renowned British trade magazine “Motor Sport” nominated the Porsche 917 as the “Greatest Racing Car in History”. This continues the successful journey of Porsche 917.