The greatest longtails… in the world
Le Mans is almost upon us. Time to pay tribute to some of the maddest-looking racers to take on the 24 hours…
Posted: 14 Jun 2013
1971 Porsche 917/20 – the ‘Pink Pig’
The Porsche 917 is the quintessential Le Mans car; big, fast, scary and utterly dominant. And a movie star too; not even Steve McQueen could outshine it in his art house bore-fest ‘Le Mans’ movie. Conceived, designed and built in the blink of an eye to give Porsche its first overall win at Le Mans, it was beyond progressive for its time.
Its flat 12 engine produced over 600bhp at launch in 1969, and would ultimately make 1100bhp in turbocharged Can Am form, still the most poke ever raced regularly. Its part-titanium chassis was made from gas-filled tubing and the gear knob from balsa (to save weight, natch).
But it had terrible aerodynamics, even with its wobbly stabiliser flaps. It took a driver with unnaturally large gentlemen vegetables to take it anyway near its 230mph top speed. And although Porsche started out its evolution by making it shorter — the 917K — ultimately it would go on to become the granddaddy of all long tails first in ‘L’ form, then ‘LH’ and eventually in 1971 in the form of the experimental ‘Pink Pig’ 917/20.
Yup, those are cuts of meat you see scrawled on there making it not only one of the best looking racing cars of all time, but probably the best liveried. 917s destroyed the opposition at Le Mans in 1970 and 1971.