Porsche restores iconic 917K racing car, brings it back to the racetrack

Article by Christian A., on September 25, 2015

Porsche disclosed that it has launched a new business arm that aims to restore vintage cars and make them as close to the original version as possible. Porsche will also offer repair and maintenance services. This was born out of a need to make sure that classic vehicles from Porsche continue to be appreciated at race tracks even today.

Historically, Porsche has had many wins at different 24-hour classics like the Daytona and Le Mans. The brand also had memorable successes at different 1,000-kilometer races like the Spa-Francorchamps and Nürburgring.

This particular service however will only be offered for now in the U.S. and Germany. President & CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America Jens Walther shares that since most of these vehicles have become part of motorsport history, a number of them has experienced an increase in their value especially in recent years.

Though the historic auto racing scene continues to have a very strong following especially in the U.S., many of these vehicles have been seen on different race tracks in Europe. More and more owners have started to realize the importance of future gains and how restoring such vehicles plays an important role, Walther concludes.

Porsche reveals that the figurehead for its new venture is the Porsche 917K that has been completely restored. This is the same car than won and became a legend during the 1971 1,000-kilometre race at Spa. The Porsche 917K was originally rolled-out from Porsche Motorsport North America.

Enthusiasts now have a chance to admire the Porsche 917K even closer with the “Rennsport Reunion”, which is considered by many as the largest event that features historic Porsche race cars. The event was held at Laguna Seca in California last September 25 to 27.

Though the 917K had a number of successful campaigns in the U.S. like Watkins Glen, it was eventually stored at the Zuffenhausen museum. It was later exhibited in the same museum by 2009 but it was painted with Gulf colors.

Porsche Motorsport North America was then commissioned in 2012 to restore the car back to its original 1971 condition and at the same time make it run again on the race track.

To perform this task, Porsche Motorsport North America used a number of different resources. The first step was to look at the archives of the Porsche Museum with its vast collection of documents. The second was to consult people who witnessed the car perform during its prime.

Finally the wide knowledge and lengthy experience of former and older employees of Porsche were also sought out. Thus aside from restoring former Porsche models to its original glory, this new business field is also aimed at securing all this expertise and passing it to the next generation of staff and employees.

Most restoration and repair services often end up with the car still on display. Porsche however differs in this regard. Its comprehensive service also allows the owners to take their restored historic race cars actually up and running and racing on the track.

Safety has always been one of the concerns the company takes into consideration when restoring race cars. This is a big issue especially with Group C vehicles that had been manufactured 30 or even 40 years ago. Thus Porsche will not replace parts where safety is concerned and is even willing to deviate from authenticity.

For example, the car will never be fitted with the old safety belts. In order to make every customer’s wish come true, the company plans to create a network composed of repair specialists and vintage car restoration experts long known in the field.

Thus customers are able to get the best guarantee of supply in everything. Walther shares that while the owners want to be assured that their restored cars are indeed track-worthy, the company wants to also give them the assurance that they will always be there if and when something breaks.

The final aspect of the new business field is on maintenance. Similar to its approach to current motor racing customers, the company does not only take charge in supplying the necessary parts. Porsche ensures that they will always be there for customers to give assistance and advice in matters related to the technical aspects of the car.

Porsche discloses that by the middle of next year, it expects to complete its Los Angeles Porsche Experience Centre (PEC). Once completed, customers will now have the opportunity to store their own historic vehicles on the site.

Thus in between race meetings, the car will not only be maintained by different experts but will be transported to the tracks as needed and afterwards sent again to the PEC. While at the PEC, their historic cars will continue to be exhibited in a first-rate classy atmosphere for the many visitors to enjoy between races.

Press Release


Historic Porsche race cars represent many victories at the 24-hour classics of Le Mans and Daytona. And they also celebrated memorable successes at 1,000-kilometre events on storied circuits such as the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps. To ensure that these vehicles can still be admired at race tracks today, Porsche now also offers customers a comprehensive service for historic motor racing in Germany and the USA. The priorities of the new business field are to restore vintage race cars as true to the original as possible as well as to repair and maintain them.

“These vehicles have written motorsport history and have gained in value, at times markedly, in recent years,” says Jens Walther, President & CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America in Santa Ana/California. “The historic motor racing scene has an extremely strong following in the USA, but many of these vehicles can also be seen on European race tracks. An increasing number of owners are now recognising how important it is for future gain that such vehicles undergo a true to original restoration.”

The figurehead for the new business service is the now completed restoration of a Porsche 917K. The legendary victorious car of the 1,000-kilometre race at Spa in 1971 experienced its roll-out at Porsche Motorsport North America and can now be admired at the “Rennsport Reunion”, the world’s largest event featuring historic Porsche race cars held from September 25-27 at Laguna Seca in California. The race car was also successfully campaigned in the USA, for instance at Watkins Glen, before it was finally put into storage at the museum in Zuffenhausen. In 2009, the vehicle was painted in the famed Gulf colours and exhibited in the museum. In 2012, Porsche Motorsport North America was commissioned to restore the race car to its 1971 condition and get it back on the track. This task was implemented using a variety of resources, such as the Porsche Museum archives with its extensive collection of documents, as well as in consultation with witnesses of that time and, of course, by relying on the experience and broad knowledge of older and former Porsche employees. To firmly anchor this expertise at Porsche and pass it on to future generations of staff is another important goal that Porsche is pursuing with the new area of business.

In addition to restorations and repairs, Porsche also offers a comprehensive service for owners of historic race cars to take their vehicles racing. This includes, for example, the replacement of safety-relevant parts. Especially now, this is an issue with many Group C vehicles that were built 30, 40 years ago. When it comes to safety, and only then, deviations from authenticity can be made. For instance, old safety belts are not fitted. In order to fulfil every customers wish, Porsche aims to establish a network of vintage car restoration and repair specialists already known in the historic motorsport scene. This ensures that customers receive the greatest possible guarantee of supply in all matters. Jens Walther: “The owners of these vehicles want assurance that their cars are track-worthy and that they can also rely on us if something breaks. We want to give them this assurance.”

Another focus in the portfolio is the maintenance of historic race cars. As with current motor racing customers, Porsche not only takes care of supplying parts, also at race tracks, but is available for customers with advice and assistance in all technical matters. After the completion of the new Porsche Experience Centre (PEC) in Los Angeles, which is expected mid next year, customers are also offered the chance to store their historic vehicles on site. Between race meetings, they are maintained by experts, transported to the circuits if desired, and sent back to PEC afterwards. There, they are exhibited in a first-class Porsche environment for visitors to enjoy – until the next race.

“I’m very pleased that we can now also offer our motorsport customers a comprehensive service for their historic race cars,” says Porsche Head of Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “At our Weissach Motorsport Centre and at Porsche Motorsport North America we have specialists for every task in this field. The 917K, which now returns to the race track after more than 40 years, is a perfect example of how we implement this expertise and preserve it for the future.”

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Topics: porsche, race car



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