The Porsche 917 is one of Stuttgart’s most famous racecars, taking first place overall at the 1970 and 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans. Based on the 908 race car, the 917 was developed in just ten months.
After the 917’s success at Le Mans and elsewhere in Europe, Porsche decided to focus on the other side of the Atlantic and entered the Can-Am Challenge. Among other modifications, the 917 had to be lengthened to fit a more powerful engine, which is how the 917/10 came to be.
The car you see here is the prototype of the 917/10 chassis, of which just 13 were made. In fact, it is the only “001” chassis in private hands. Power comes from a 600-horsepower, air-cooled, horizontally opposed 12-cylinder engine coupled to a five-speed manual transaxle transmission and a limited-slip differential.
According to RM Sothebys, “Chassis number 917/10-001 was completed on 3 December 1970 and, like the 917 PA, closely resembled the 908/3. In early 1971, this prototype began wind-tunnel development at Porsche’s Weissach R & D facility and ran up countless test miles — including 23 consecutive days on the Weissach skidpad…In the course of its wind-tunnel testing, 917/10-001 was fitted with five different body designs.”
After completing its test services, 917/10-001 was sold to a private customer and entered in the Hockenheim Interserie, where it finished 2nd overall. The prototype-turned-racer spent time racing in other series as well, but one of its most famous outings was with Formula 1 and CART Champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
In 1974, Fittipaldi looked to gain more track experience at the infamous Nurburgring Nordschliefe ahead of the German Grand Prix. The owner of 917/10-001 took the car out of storage and loaned it to Fittipaldi to practice. Fittipaldi nabbed pole because of the extra time learning the track, but due to poor weather conditions during the race, the driver ended in 6th. After Fittipaldi’s short stint, the car was put in storage. ,It remained there until 1997, when the chassis received a two-year restoration.
Since then, it’s raced in “numerous historic racing events” around the world, including the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival, Nurburgring, Daytona, and Brand’s Hatch. It was also displayed at the Stavelot Museum at Spa.
In 2014, it underwent another complete restoration. It was finished in a Gulf Oil livery, but has subsequently been returned to its original Bosch livery. In addition to the car, the new owner will receive every piece of paperwork from its history, restorations, magazine features, and historical photographs. Also included is as a current FIA Historic Technical Passport, this would allow the new owner access to historic FIA races throughout the world.
Chassis 917/10-001 will be sold at auction on Wednesday, February 8 during Sotheby’s 2017 Paris sale. It’s expected to sell for between $5 million to $6 million.