No record of the best racing automobiles of all time is full with out the mighty Porsche 917. The flat-12-powered endurance racer was launched in 1969 and dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and ’71, delivering the primary general victories to the German sports activities automobile firm and setting a brand new commonplace for all such competitors machines that adopted.

RM Sotheby’s will supply a terrific instance of this iconic Porsche, a 1970 917K coupe in basic blue-and-orange Gulf Racing livery, throughout its flagship Monterey, California, public sale on August 13-14.

“To any automotive or motorsport fanatic, the Porsche 917 wants no introduction, and it’s the automobile’s early 917K coupe kind that actually ignites the passions of those fanatics most strongly,” in keeping with an RM Sotheby’s information launch.

“Generally considered ‘The World’s Biggest Sports activities Automotive’, boasting a near-perfect flat-12-cylinder, air-cooled engine that might propel the automobile to speeds in extra of 230 mph, the Porsche 917 set a normal for design, engineering and sheer efficiency that took endurance sports activities automobile design to new ranges and which proved dominant over three unbelievable seasons of World Championship racing.”

Chassis no. 917 031/026, engine no. 917 031, was pushed at Le Mans in 1970 by Mike Hailwood and David Hobbs for JW Automotive Engineering / Gulf Racing with racing quantity 22. Nevertheless it crashed out on the rain-slicked course on its fiftieth lap. 

Though it didn’t end, the coupe nonetheless would turn out to be well-known on account of that race; unique footage of the 917K in motion was utilized in Steve McQueen’s film Le Mans. So not solely is that this Porsche a superb race automobile, it’s additionally a bona fide film star, changing into often called “The Le Mans Legend.” 

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Chassis 026 was constructed as one in every of three 1970 Le Mans entries of the JW Automotive Engineering / Gulf Racing staff, though its Gulf livery was totally different from the opposite two, having a solid-orange roof all the way down to the belt line whereas the opposite had orange centerline stripes.


After its Le Mans shunt, the 917 was repaired by the manufacturing facility, rebodied as a light-weight open 917 Spyder, and renumbered ‘031’ for competitors within the European InterSerie Championship, for Group 7 sports activities racing automobiles, the information launch says.  The automobile was raced extensively by Ernst Kraus, after which acquired by Georg Loos and his Gelo Racing Crew. It continued to compete with success within the sequence by 1973.

The 917 retired from racing in 1974 and have become a part of the Chandon Assortment, the place it remained till 1988.

“The present gentleman proprietor acquired the Porsche in Spyder kind over a decade in the past and has since absolutely restored the automobile, returning it to its unique and seminal, Gulf-liveried Le Mans coupe specification,” the discharge says. “The restoration was executed with out regard to value and the outcomes are spectacular in each sensory regard, from the beautiful design and livery to the unmistakable symphony of the boxer-engined 12 cylinder at full revs.”

The public sale firm’s estimated worth for this outstanding piece of racing and Hollywood historical past is $16 million to $18.5 million.

 “The Gulf Oil Porsche 917K is actually the holy grail of competitors automobiles,” Gord Duff, international head of auctions for RM Sotheby’s, mentioned in a information launch.  “Its inclusion in our upcoming Monterey public sale is nothing wanting spectacular, and we’re thrilled to have the ability to current the 917K to our purchasers on the public sale the place they’ll absolutely recognize it in particular person.

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“It represents the perfect of motorsport historical past and heritage from an period of legendary automobiles and drivers; it can endlessly be a film star in its personal proper. To me, it’s actually a powerful machine that has no comparability.”

For extra details about the Porsche 917K and the Monterey public sale, go to the RM Sotheby’s web site.

Bob Golfen

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive author and editor, specializing in new automobiles, collector automobiles, automobile tradition and the automotive way of life. He’s the previous automotive author and editor for The Arizona Republic and, the web site for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for numerous publications, together with Autoweek, The New York Occasions and Barrett-Jackson public sale catalogs. A collector automobile fanatic with a variety of information in regards to the outdated automobiles that all of us love and want, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic equipment. His present obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Tremendous coupe.