So since my birthday is coming up this next week, I decided it’s time to find a grail. I’m a big Porsche racing fan (some of us are going to Rennsport Reunion if anyone else wants to join!) and I love awesome liveries. It only made sense that the Porsche 917L Hippie would be very high on my list.
Well foolish me, I remember last year prices were still pretty decent. Then AutoArt stopped making it... now prices have shot up. Well since I’m hitting a milestone year (holy crap I’m 30 this year...) I figured I’d up my spending limits. After battling out on EBay a bit I managed to get this one off Replicarz’s store. (Seriously, they have some epic deals on there if you can get in on a good auction)
Well here she is:
Inspired by LeMonstre’s epic GT40 post, we will be digging deep into the history of this car.
Initially, Porsche only made 5 917L’s of which this is the only one to never sustain frame damage. The 917L’s were designed with extra-slippery bodywork to make good use of the Mulsanne Straight, which was still very much straight at that time, without chicanes. Because of this bodywork adjustment, the 917L’s were only raced at LeMans.
This car, chassis 917-043 made it’s debut at the 1970 LeMans, the first year Porsche was able to win outright. It basically acted as a chase car for the winning 917K, the Salzberg red-and-white car. Under the hands of Gerard Larrousse and Willi Kauhsen, it did its job well and the Hippie managed to take 2nd! The reason it was able to sport its famous livery was due to the new styling chief, Tony Lapine. 1970 kickstarted the history of Porsches carrying crazy liveries and the Hippie was the most famous of the bunch. For the race at Watkins Glen later in the year, a team wanted the same livery on their 917K because of how great it was:
For 1971, the car was sold to Gulf Racing and given the 917LH bodywork. Some of you may recognize that recently Hot Wheels released a 917LH in gulf colors with #18. Well turns out it was this car!
It sported those classic colors and raced under the hands of the epic drivers Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver.
During the 1971 race, it got pole position and managed to set the fastest average speed on the track! That year was a year of records for Porsche. Not only did this car get the fastest average speed for a lap, but the #21 Martini 917LH got the fastest speed on the straight, and the winning #22 car set the longest distance record, which wasn’t broken until 2010. If anyone wonders why I love Porsche 917's so much, I hope these records can you a glimpse as to why. Oh and I think they look wonderful...
Unfortunately the car didn’t finish the 1971 race as it’s engine overheated and seized. Also as LeMonstre pointed out as Porsche is to do, it was given a new vin tag of 917-044. Eventually historians and restorers found out it was the original hippie car with chassis 917-043 and restored it to its hippie glory. From what I’ve found this is the only Porsche 917L in private hands. It is currently at the Simeone Museum in Pennsylvania. If anyone lives in the area, I’d recommend going, it’s an amazing collection. This is just the LeMans section...
Well with that storied history of only two races under its belt (albeit historically significant) let’s get back to this 1:18 done by AutoArt.
As far as details go, I’m a bit disappointed. Those taillights don’t look great, and I wish the rear engine bay had a little more attention paid to it (it drives me crazy that the spare is a totally different wheel than any of the others...). Also the doors don’t open equally...
OTHERWISE, the car to me is stunning. The curves, the proportions, the livery, I love it all.
Oh and it doesn’t look half-bad with my painting of it.
If anyone is interested in art like this, I got it commissioned for what I think is a super great price from a guy on IG with handle: claeysjelleautomotiveart and he’s out of Belgium...so shipping can take a while.
Well I hope you guys were able to learn a bit from all of this. I know I did when I was doing all of the research. Racing history seems to be much more interesting back in those days.