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Modernised Porsche 917 marks 50th anniversary of 917 racer

By Chris Thompson, 12 Mar 2019 News

Porsche 917 50th anniversary of 917 feature

A Porsche 917 concept has brought the now-50-year-old racer into the modern era

If you’ve ever wondered what a 2019 Porsche 917 race car would look like, wonder no more.

To celebrate 50 years of the Porsche 917, the Stuttgart marque has not only restored its first 917 (chassis 917-001) but has also reimagined the car as a one-off design study.

Created by a small team of designers and engineers, the red and white concept will be one of 14 cars displayed at the Porsche Museum between May 14 and September 15.

Porsche says the concept, an homage to its first Le Mans victory in 1970, will remain a study, as the brand already has an LMP1 category entry in the WEC. It’s not clear how this prevents it from becoming a limited-run special edition.

Chassis 917-001 will also be on display after having undergone a painstaking restoration for more than a year. The first 917 ever built has been returned to its original condition, as it was when it was shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1969, in white and green. Porsche says this changed several times through 917-001’s life.

“It had a new look for its appearance at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt the same year, for which the car was repainted in white and orange.

“When Porsche later announced the transfer of its racing activities to the J.W. Automotive Engineering team, headed by Briton John Wyer, the 917-001 was once again used as a presentation vehicle and refinished in the brand colours of US oil company and sponsor, Gulf: light blue and orange.

“When the 917-001 was handed over to Porsche Salzburg in October 1970, it was in the colours [red and white] of the car that won the Le Mans race and was emblazoned with starting number 23.”

It makes sense, then, that the modernised 917 should bear the number of the first 917 to win Le Mans.