What does it take to earn the title, "greatest race car of the 20th century?" That would mean wins at some of the world’s most prestigious racing series’, including the World Sportscar Championship, Le Mans, and the Can Am, just to name a few. Now, one lucky collector will walk away with that car – the Porsche 917.
Development of the 917 began in 1968. The goal for Porsche was to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team would get that chance in May of 1971, taking to the track for the first time. The 917 would set a record that race, winning by 5,335.16 kilometers (3,315.11 miles), the furthest margin of victory until that point, a record that would stand for nearly 40 years.
Under the hood, two Porsche 911 flat-six engines were joined at the crank, giving the 917 a total displacement of 4.5 liters, up from the 2.25 liters found on each engine. Over time, the 917 would be offered with a 4.5 liter, 4.9 liter, and eventually a 5.0-liter engine, some of which good for as much as 1,100 horsepower (820 kilowatts).
This car in particular is an early prototype for the convertible 917/10. It wears the chassis number 917/10-001, and completed construction on December 3, 1970. Though it was never raced by Porsche, it was used as a test vehicle, spending as much as 23 consecutive days on the Weissach skidpad.
After testing was completed, the company rebuilt the car and sold it to Willi Kauhsen, who raced it extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, and South America. After retirement, the car would sit untouched for more than 20 years before undergoing a two-year restoration in 1997.
Now it’s ready for a new owner. It will be part of the RM Sotheby’s Paris sale on February 8, 2017. Estimates suggest it could go for anywhere between €4,600,000 to €5,500,000 ($4,950,000 to $5,918,000).