This year, today, the 12th of March 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of what is arguably the most prolific race car in history - or at the very least, the most successful to come out of Porsche: the 917. On this date in 1969, the original car (chassis number 917-001) was shown publicly for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show.
The iconic race car had a white body with green accents, particularly on its front end, a look that Porsche has done its best to recreate as it celebrates the 917 a full five decades since its formal unveiling. The same car, 001, underwent a number of livery alterations before wearing the legendary light blue and orange of Gulf racing, after which it would race at Le Mans that June of ’69.
At great expense, Porsche has put the 917-001 through a comprehensive restoration campaign to a condition identical to that at that unveiling in Geneva 50 years ago. This project was particularly challenging due to the various design and technical revisions the car underwent during its time as a test and presentation vehicle.
Because so little of the original parts that were superseded remained, Porsche leveraged 3D technology to reproduce their replacements, fabricated based on the original design drawings as was the aluminium space frame.
This endeavour was a point of zero negotiation for Porsche as the time came to commemorate the 917, as it lives now, the car is fully restored to its original 1969 condition and will be presented to at the Porsche Museum alongside exhibits that showcase its storied career in racing, from its first overall victory in 1,000km race in Zeltweg to its overall triumph at Le Mans to the further development of 917/10 and turbocharged 917/30 with over 1,000 horsepower, the technology and expertise gained trickling into cars like the 911 Turbo.
In one single image, Porsche has also teased a modern interpretation of the 917, or a race car made in the same spirit. The prototype shell sits atop what looks like a hybrid or full EV platform with design cues that harken to the 918 Spyder concept.
Porsche insists that the car is purely an experimental exercise, and have not disclosed any further information whatsoever. Still, it wouldn’t be particularly far fetched to imagine the company’s next flagship using this as a reference point. After all, it could be a fitting response to other hypercars such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG Project One.