It’s almost hard to believe given its motorsporting excellence but until 1970, Porsche hadn’t won an overall victory at Le Mans. Then came the 917.
Making somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 hp at the wheels thanks to a 4.9-liter flat 12 and tipping the scales at just 600 kg (~1,325 lbs), the 917 managed to hit that highest of automotive achievements: 1,000 hp per ton.
Looking at the 917 now, it’s hard to believe it ever actually existed, much less that racers drove it. Not only did racers drive it to victory, not only did it star in Le Mans, not only did it win twice at Le Mans, this one’s also street legal.
That’s right, if you happen to find yourself in Monaco this summer, you may well be greeted the roaring thunder of the most original 917 in existence.
Now, despite its liberal attitude towards taxes, Monaco takes car registrations pretty seriously, so it wasn’t exactly easy for its owner Claudio to get his Porsche on the road. In the best tradition of the exceedingly wealthy, though, a legal loophole allowed Claudio the register the 917.
Claudio, and indeed the rest of Monaco, has Count Rossi, to thank for getting this car on the road because according to local law, if a car has been registered for road use in the past, another identical car can be registered, too. Luckily for us all, the man who got Martini into the motorsport sponsorship game, also had a street legal 917 (chassis 030) in the ’70s.
But Claudio had to prove that this 917 was identical to Count Rossi’s. That was no mean feat because this car, chassis 037, was never finished. It was an extra car that was eventually sold to Baur, a German coachbuilder.
After decades of disuse, chassis 037 was sold to a US collector who set about getting it ship shape. Fortunately, no one’s buying a 917 to hot rod it, so a healthy respect for its history was always a priority and Porsche was always aware of the chassis’ location.
That means that the car now is now made up of 95% original parts. Since all the other 917s were used for racing and modified through the years to keep them eligible or to repair damage, chassis 037 is the most original 917 out there.
Which, along with a mountain of paperwork, allowed Claudio to get his 917 registered for the road. Even in Monaco, not exactly known for the low quality of its cars, the 917 is a trump card that Claudio can play against the best super and hypercars the principality has to offer.