With the 917, Porsche for the first time entered the league of immensely powerful, large-capacity racing cars. The 580 hp from the twelve-cylinder 4.5-litre engine of the 917 set new standards, to the extent that even decades later, independent experts rate this Porsche as one of the most impressive sports cars of the century.
Changes in the regulations motivated Porsche to build the 917. Prototypes were allowed a maximum engine size of three-litres, and for sports cars five-litres were allowed. However, a series of at least 25 had to be built. The 1969 race season allowed the 917 to become fully race-proven, with the result that the car entered 1970 with its reliability assured and finely-honed aerodynamics which further improved its track behaviour. At that time, the factory did not enter the cars directly, but via its close partners, John Wyer Automotive and Porsche Salzburg; nevertheless, the World Championship for long distance sports car racing proved to be a triumph for Porsche. Despite fierce competition from Ferrari, the blue and orange, and red and white 917s won almost every race.
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