This year, Porsche marks 50 years of its most successful race car ever, the 917. To celebrate the event, the German automaker unveiled the very first restoration of a 917 (chassis number 001) at the Geneva Motor Show and also released the first photo of a very intriguing 917 Concept.
Not much is known about the design study but Porsche says the red-and-white show car was designed “by a small team of designers and engineers” to mark the manufacturer’s first Le Mans victory of 1970.
However, with Porsche’s entry into the LMP1 category, the 917 Concept “remained as purely a concept study.” Porsche doesn’t say when exactly the 917 Concept was built but it’s safe to assume it was before the brand’s return to endurance racing as a factory team in 2014.
The design study looks absolutely stunning and would have made a fantastic continuation to the legendary 917 if its destiny hadn’t been to remain just an exhibit at the Porsche Museum.
That’s right, you’ll be able to see the 917 Concept as part of a special exhibition called “Colours of Speed – 50 Years of the 917” at the Porsche Museum from May 14 to September 15. A total of 14 exhibits (including ten 917 models) will be on display.
Porsche brings back the very first 917 to its former glory
As part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the 917, Porsche has restored the first 917 ever made to its original condition, as it was when first unveiled on March 12, 1969, at the Geneva Motor Show.
The Porsche 917-001 debuted with a white and green livery but adopted new looks for the Frankfurt Motor Show the same year, only to change livery once again to Gulf Racing’s famous blue and orange layout. After Porsche won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970, the car was reworked into the short-tail version by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood in September 1970.
Finally, when the 917-001 was handed over to Porsche Salzburg in October 1970, it adopted the colors and racing number (23) of the Porsche 917 racer that won Le Mans earlier that year. Interestingly, the 917-001 never raced. It was mainly used for testing at the Nürburgring and as a show car at various events.
As you can imagine, restoring this historically significant car was a painstaking enterprise but Porsche technicians managed to pull it off. The expert first had to find out which of the body materials were original and could be kept. In order to do that, they used material analysis and comparison with historical design drawings and photographs.
Then they had to reproduce the front and rear sections using 3D technology and the original design drawings, while the rear section of the aluminum space frame was restored also with the aid of the original documents.