knocking on the door for decades, Germany's Porsche finally stepped into
the big time of international auto racing with its Type 917 in 1969. Its
phenomenal air-cooled flat-12 engine powered the 917 to 15 wins in world
sports-car championship races from 1969 to 1971, after which it was
outlawed by a rules change. Included were two wins at Le Mans in 1970
and '71. First built in a series of 25 coupes that Volkswagen chief
Ferdinand Piech called the biggest risk he's ever taken in business, the
917 was raced in both short- and long-tailed forms, pumping out 630 bhp
by 1971. It went on to even greater glory in turbocharged roadster form
in Can-Am racing as the 917/10, series champion in 1972. In '73 the
incredible 1,000-horsepower 917/30 Porsche dominated the Can-Am series
in the hands of Mark Donohue, who called it "the perfect racing car".
The 917 stands proud in Porsche's history as the costly and daring
machine that decisively ended the company's underdog status in
international motor sport.