1972 Porsche 917/10

Racing Spyder
Chassis Num: 917/10-015
Sold for $579,000 at 2006 Bonhams.
This vehicle is a 1972/1973 Porsche 917/10 Twin-Turbocharged CanAm & InterSerie Racing Spyder with chassis number 917/10-015. CanAm racing cars during this era were producing 800 - 1100 horsepower and the extremes of aerodynamic, exotic materials, and latest technology were constantly being experimented with, and tested.

The Porsche 917 Series was powered by flat-12 cylinder, air-cooled engine finely tuned to answer the demands of endurance racing. Porsche produced four series of this car, including the short-tailed Coupes, aerodynamic Coupes intended for LeMans and other high speed tracks, the Turbocharged 917/10 CanAm and European Interserie Spyders, and the rare 917/30 ultimate CanAm car.

This example shown was campaigned by Porsche privateer Willi Kauhsen in the InterSerie. The car is constructed of an aluminum-tub chassis frames with a body that was designed to take advantage of aerodynamic drag and high down-force. It had epoxy body panels bonded to the aluminum spaceframe chassis, as did all customer 917/10 cars. Large aluminum four-pot calibers with cooling fins and webs were used to keep the car in the driver's control. 1.1-inch thick, cast-iron , cross-drilled brake rotors were used to improve the performance in wet weather. Fuel capacity was over 65 gallons, and eventually grew to 72.6 gallons.

Kauhsen campaigned his first 917/10 with chassis number 002 until it was damaged at Nurburgring late in 1972. He reverted to his backup car, chassis number 015, which is this car. The car secured a victory at the 1973 Nurburgring 300kms and Shell Coppa d'Oro in Italy. A second was achieved in the BRDC Martini Trophy at Silverstone. The car was then brought to the United States to compete in the CanAm Series. At Mid Ohio, the car qualified in fifth position. The car's racing history continued through the 1975 season with Kauhsen at the wheel.

The car was sold to Randolph Townsend of Reno, Nevada who later sold it in 1977 to Dan Hannah. It was sold again in 1980 to Monte Shelton who used the car in a few races at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. In 1984, the car was acquired by Peter Kaus for the Rosso Bianco Collection where it has been on display since that time. This car was offered for sale at the 2006 Bonhams & Butterfields auction held at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, California where it was estimated to sell between $450,000 - $550,000. It sold above that estimate, with a high bid of $579,000.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2007
Racing Spyder
Chassis Num: 017
The Porsche 917/10 Spyders were the most powerful machines ever built in road racing. The cars were developed from the successful 917 coupes, and won the Can-Am and German Inter-series from 1972 to 1975. The downforce was massive as one driver said, 'Lifting the throttle is like hitting the brakes on a normal car.' With 1150 horsepower the 917/10 achieved speeds of zero to 100 mph in 2.9 seconds and 200 mph in 12 seconds. They remain the fastest road racing cars of all time. Chassis 017 was driven by John Fitzpatrick, Bob Wollek and Tim Schenken and is in as-raced condition. It is considered one of the most original 917s in existence. This car is one of only twelve 917-10s built by the Porsche factory.
Racing Spyder
Chassis Num: 003
Sold for $5,500,000 at 2012 Mecum.
At the close of the 1971 season, the Porsche 917/K was obsolete as it was no longer eligible to race in the world championship. So the company turned their attention to the United States and the Can-Am championship.

The Porsche 917 Spyders were developed from the successful 917 coupes. The 917 Spyders won championships on both side of the Atlantic - Can-Am and FIA Interseries from 1972 to 1975.

With 800 ft.-lbs. of torque, the cars could race from 0-100 mph in 3 seconds and 0-200 mph in just 12 seconds.

The 917/10 was technically similar to the 917 coupe, but featured a number of lighter components constructed from the latest exotic materials. They were given a larger fuel tank to help them complete the 200 mile races without having to refuel.

The turbochargers were uncharted territory, though throttle lag was a big obstacle to overcome. These 900 horsepower twin-turbocharged monsters were the only cars to ever truly compete with the dominant McLaren Racing Can-Am cars of the era.

This Porsche 917/10 made its racing debut at Mosport in 1972 Can-Am competition driven by Mark Donohue. It dominated the 1972 Can-Am series taking 1st at 5 of 9 races. It was the Can-Am Champion for 1972 driven by George Follmer. This car earned Porsche their first Can-Am Championship.

Prior to being delivered to Penske, the 917/10 was used for significant testing and development.

The car raced as #6 by Donohue and #7 by Follmer in 1972.

Team Penske racing sold 003 to Rinzler and was campaigned as the #16 car in RC Cola livery for the 1973 Can-Am season. It placed 2nd overall in the hand of George Follmer.

Powering the car is a 5.4-liter Twin Turbo 12-cylinder engine capable of making over 1150 horsepower. Zero-to-sixty takes just 2.9 seconds.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2014
Racing Spyder
Chassis Num: 003
Sold for $5,500,000 at 2012 Mecum.
Big engines, low weight and few rules made the Can-Am series hugely popular. Mark Donohue said, 'This is the only car I have ever driven that will spin the tires at 200 mph.' With 1150 HP and 800 ft. lbs of torque at full boost, this car went from 0-100 mph in 2.9 seconds and 0-200 mph in 12 seconds flat. Chassis 003 went on to win the 1972 Can-Am Championship for Porsche and Team Penske with George Follmer at the wheel by taking first place in five of nine races.

Adding to its fame, 003 would take second place in the 1973 Can-Am season, bested only by the legendary 1500 HP Porsche 917/30.
In July of 1968 Porsche began designing and building a new prototype for the Sport category. The FIA changed the regulations of the Sport category to allow vehicles with 5-liter engines, up from the prior 3-liter capacity. Instead of 50 examples, only 25 examples needed to be produced to satisfy homologation rules. With the 917, Porsche had high hopes for capturing an overall victory at the grueling 24 Hour of LeMans. Porsche had seen success with its 904, 907 and 908 race cars. These cars had done very well on the race track though some were plagued with mechanical difficulties and other growing pains which may have held them from realizing their true potential. Porsche had not captured any overall wins at LeMans just victories within their classes.

The Porsche 917 was designed and built in 10 months and was powered by the Type 912 flat 12 engine of various different displacement. Throughout its life span it would be outfitted with a 4.5, 4.9, 5 and 5.4 liter engines. The front suspension was independent by unequal control arms with coil springs over tubular shocks. The rear was also independent by unequal control arms and radius rods with coil springs over tubular shocks. There were disc brakes place on all four corners and featured a Porsche 5-speed manual gearbox and an aluminum tube space frame chassis. All 917's were right-hand drive. There were various body configurations including the long-tail and short-tail.

On March 12, 1969 the Porsche 917 was displayed to the public at the Geneva Auto Show. It had been painted white with the front of vehicle painted green.

Inspectors came to the Porsche factory to verify that the 25 necessary vehicles had been built. Unfortunately only three had been assembled. There were nearly 20 other examples in the process of being assembled and parts for the remaining available, however, Porsche was denied the homologation. Near the end of April all 25 examples were assembled and on display for the inspection team. It was finally cleared for racing in the Sport category.

Chassis 010 was sold to David Piper, 007 went to Gesipa Racing Team, 021 to Aarnio A. Wilhuri who had Shell Sponsorship, 018 to Alex Soler and 025 to Dominique Marin of Zitro Racing. In 1970, atleast 20 other examples of the 917 were manufactured.

As with most prototype vehicles, the 917 suffered from growing pains. The aerodynamics created low drag rather than down force and made the vehicle unstable at speeds.

In 1970 an partnership was reached with John Wyer and the Gulf Team. Wyer had won the LeMans in the past driving the Ford GT40 with sponshorship through Gulf Racing. Porsche extended an offer to Wyer that if he could keep his Gulf Racing sponsorship, Porsche would provide 3 cars per race plus its two best factory racers, Jo Siffert and Brian Redman. It was John Horsmann, an engineer for John Wyer, which suggested that low drag be sacrificed in place of downforce. A tail was conceived and placed on the rear of the 917 Short tail. This greatly increased the stability of the vehicle at speeds. The vehicle was then dubbed the 917 K, representing Kutz or short-tail. The side exhausts were removed and the front of the vehicle was modified. Another low-drag version of the 917 was created specifically for Le Mans. The 917 LH, meaning langen and German for long, was given a Long Tail body. When compared with the 1969 version, was much safer and more stable.

During the 1970 LeMans, two 917L's were entered with seven 917K's. There were two engine sizes used, the 4.5 and the 4.9 liter. Chassis number 004, the number 20 Porsche 917K, was driven by Siffert and Redman and used the new 4.9-liter engine. It had qualified in 3rd but was retired after 156 laps due to a blown engine. Chassis 021, number 18 using a 4.5-liter engine, was entered by David Piper and Gijs van Lennep and qualified 11th. After 112 laps, Piper suffered a tire puncture and crashed the car. Number 21 driven by Rodriguez and Kinnunen, suffered a broken connecting rod. At 8:30 am an inlet valve broke and KG Salzburg lost its best car, the number 25 driven by Elford/Ahrens. Chassis number 026, the number 22 4.9-liter Porsche 917K, was a JWA Gulf vehicle driven by the motorcycle champion Mike Hailwood and David Hobbs. The vehicle had qualified 10th and after only three hours was running in third place. Unfortunately, an Alfa Romeo T33/3 driven by Carlo Facetti spun and hit a wall and Hailwood was unable to evade the accident. KG Salzburg chassis number 023 driven by Hermann/Attwood, a 917K using a 4.5-liter engine, captured first place and Marini 4.9 Porsche 917LH chassis number 043 captured second, and five laps down from the first place car. Chassis 043 was driven by Gerard Larousse and Willi Kausen.

KG Salzburg retired from competition after the season.

For the 1971 season and in preparation for the LeMans race, Porsche performed testing and studies to make the 917L more stable. Three 917L's were entered. The factory backed number 22, the Martini International Racing Team, and two John Wyer Gulf Racing 917s. The Gulf cars were numbered 17 and 18 with the #18 vehicle capturing the fastest time during qualification. The Martini Racing team won the 24 Hours Race of LeMans with Austrian Dr. Helmut Marko and Dutch Guijs van Lennep as the drivers.

During the 1971 season, Porsche had won 8 of the 11 rounds of the Manufacturer World Championship.

At the end of the 1971 season the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 had proven their abilities and supremacy that the FIA added new regulations that made them ineligible to race in world championships.

The 917/10 was similar to 917 but purposely built for Group 7 of American CanAm racing. It used even more lightweight materials and a larger fuel tank. The larger tank allowed the vehicle to complete a 200 mile race without needing to refuel. During its first season of racing, it was not as successful as hoped. The 12-cylinder engine was not powerful enough to compete for first place. So the 917 was fitted with turbochargers. With the turbochargers and 950 horsepower, the driver needed to be very cautious due to the sudden power increases produced by the turbochargers.

During the 1972 season Mark Donohue and George Follmer drove the Porsche's in competition. Donohue was faster but due to an accident was unable to complete the season. Follmer was left to capture the championship, which he did.

In 1973, the 917/30 was outfitted with twin-turbochargers and a 5.4 liter, 12-cylinder engine. It was capable of produced between 1100 and 1500 horsepower. It could go from zero to sixty in 2.1 seconds and had a top speed of 238 mph. The 917/30 was only available for Team Penske's driver Mark Donohue. It dominated and demolished the Can-Am series with Mark Donohue winning the championship.

In 1974 it was banned from racing in the CanAm series because the CanAm series had begun to lose its fan base since there was no competition.

The Porsche 917, a fantastic car, could be beaten and this was proven. The records that it set were broken by smaller, lightweight prototypes such as Ferrari and Alfa Romeo in the years that followed. When the 917's won, it was because they were the fastest at the time or the faster vehicles had suffered DNF's. It was the 917/10, 917/20 and 917/30 that truly dominated the racing circuit and were unbeatable. Many of the records that were established still exist today. With over a thousand horsepower, backed by a company that had years of racing experience, and driven by some of the greatest drivers at the time, the vehicles were dominate.

The Porsche 917 played a staring role in the Steve McQueen movie, 'Le Mans'.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2006

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1972 Can-Am Drivers Championship
1  George Follmer    130 
2  Denis Clive 'Denny' Hulme    65 
3  Milt Minter    65 
4  Mark Neary Donohue, Jr.    62 
5  Albert François Cevert Goldenberg    59 
6  Peter Jeffrey Revson    48 
7  David Wishart Hobbs    39 
8  Keith Jack Oliver    37 
9  Peter Holden Gregg    34 
10  Charlie Kemp    27 
11  Lothar Motschenbacher    26 
12  Gregg Young    23 
13  Jean-Pierre Jacques Jarier    11 
14  Bob Nagel    11 
15  José Carlos Pace    10 
16  Gary Wilson    10 
17  Sam Posey    
17  John Cordts    
19  Scooter Patrick    
20  Gordon Dewar    
21  Tom Heyser    
22  Steve Durst    
22  Ed Felter    
22  Mike Hiss    
25  Warren Agor    
26  Chuck Parsons    
26  Hans Wiedmer    
26  Willi Kauhsen    
29  Tony Dean    
29  Pete Sherman    
31  Roger McCaig    
32  Bob Peckham    

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