This little guy started life as an afterthought in an eBay lot of unloved diecasts. The no-name Hong Kong casting is crude, lacks detail, and was in bad shape. However, the shape was perfect.

The 917 just before its race debut - 1969 Spa 1000 Km
Image: Pilote semi-pro (Caradisiac)

The 917’s first race was the 1969 1000 km of Spa and it wore the short tail of this diecast and no front dive planes. From the moment the flat-12 powered monster took to the track, it was lightning quick and completely undrivable. The short tail was particularly bad, and was only run a couple times before being scrapped altogether. It wasn’t until an extensive redesign in 1970 that the 917 reached its full potential.

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I took some liberties with this restoration. The 917 ran just once in this configuration (short tail and dive planes), and it was in a fairly dull all-white livery. I decided to go for a paint scheme that resembled something Porsche would’ve run, even if they didn’t actually do so. All 917’s in 1969 were run with a white body and a brightly colored nose, usually in green. I used Tamiya spray cans for the paint and leftover Shell decals from another project. I replaced the terrible original wheels with my usual Matchbox tri-spoke wheels. One thing I had to add was the double flap rear spoiler. This was an adjustable wing that the driver could flatten on straights, not unlike DRS in today’s F1. I made one using a piece of wire, aluminum sheet, and fishing wire.

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I have another one of these castings that I will probably finish similarly, with an orange or blue nose.