Filming cars can require so much focus on the end result – a movie, a TV show, a client’s request or a journalist’s – that we forget that we are in the presence of engineering greatness. We get to work with some very special cars, defined by their ability, history, or both. With that in mind we’re going to be releasing some raw footage from our archives that feature some of the great cars we have filmed. No music or voiceover. Just the cars as themselves doing the very thing that made us all fall in love with them in the first place.
This week it’s the legendary Porsche 917K. A car that wrote Porsche’s name on the endurance racing map in permanent ink. A car that not only broke records and won races, but was a paradigm shift in race car design. The chassis was a space-frame design that weighed only 42kg (93lbs). To detect cracks in it, they pressurized it with gas. The car was so compact that the driver’s feet hung over the front axle.
But the 917 wasn’t perfect from the get go. Today we take high-speed stability for granted. We assume any race car worth its tire warmers will be safe to operate at any and all speeds, but that wasn’t always the case. Early versions of the 917 had handling problems at high speeds because of rear-end lift. The problem was sorted when Porsche engineers teamed up with John Wyer Engineering. During testing, Wyer and his lead engineer, John Horsman, noticed that there weren’t any flies stuck to the rear wing of the 917. That meant the rear end wasn’t in the airstream, and without air you don’t have downforce. They redesigned the deck lid, making it shorter, and the car stuck like glue. The rest is history.
Porsche 917K Racing History
1970 1st and 2nd place overall 24 Hours of Le Mans 1971 1st place overall 24 Hours of Le Mans 1972 1st place overall Can-Am series (Breaking McLaren's 5-year streak) 1973 1st place overall Can-Am series