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The last Porsche 917 to race at Le Mans is heading up for auction

It’s got the history and the jaw-dropping performance, but it’s also got a minimum estimate of £3 million

Published: 02 Apr 2024

The 917 was a serious bit of kit, that was confirmed what with it being the first Porsche to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1970 - after Porsche had fixed the high-speed lift issues, of course.

In fact, the 917 would go on to record 15 wins across a 23-race spell during its short three-year ‘official’ stint in the World Sportscar Championship.

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Updated endurance racing regulations effectively retired the 917 after the 1971 campaign and it only survived for a further two years in the unrestricted Can-Am series across the pond, but a brief window opened up in 1981 to allow a triumphant return to Le Mans. Cologne-based Kremer Racing duly obliged with a reworked version that was built with the full backing of Porsche HQ. It was dubbed the 917 ‘K-81’ and Porsche even sent a couple of old 917 engines to power it. 

So, this is the last 917 built with Porsche's blessing and the last one to race at Le Mans (probably best not to mention the DNF due to an oil leak) and it's now being auctioned by RM Sotheby’s. Not cheap though - it's expected to fetch between £3 and £4.3 million. Yes, we’re sweating too.

We suppose you’ll be wanting to know a bit more about how this car differs from the earlier examples before you commit to such a fee though, right? Well, the space frame chassis received a minor overhaul by Kremer Racing, while the brakes, suspension and a host of other internals were plugged in from a derestricted Can-Am competitor. 

And then there’s the engine, which was rebuilt in 2019. It’s a 5.0-litre air-cooled flat-12 which sends around 573bhp to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual. It may not sound too scary, but remember this car weighs about as much as a toddler, and has the potential to be increased to as much as 1,100bhp. Good heavens.

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It’s not been kept in bad condition either, has it? None of the black and white vinyls and accents seem to be peeling off the bright yellow livery, which is a good sign. However, the interior, and in particular the exposed frames, have got a bit of wear and tear. Don’t mind the flock of uncovered wiring either - it’s a pretty normal sight in old school racing cars.

Fancy a proper track day toy?

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