Fastest on the Mulsanne
The story of one of the cars that made the Porsche 917 the legend it is today.
The Porsche 917. A hero for many, including myself. It was the peak of the old-school brute-force technologies of basic aerodynamics, extreme light-weighting techniques, and a sledgehammer of an engine. Couple that with some of the greatest racers of the day and you are bound to get fantastic stories of automotive limits being pushed.
Cue 1971. Porsche used the previous year to prove how dominant the 917 could be. 1971 was the year it would put the final nail in Ferrari's coffin, and they would do it at LeMans.
At the 1971 race, 7 917s were entered to take on the new Ferrari 512's. Of that, the the LH-bodied 917s took the first 3 pole positions and they showed Ferrari they came to fight. Pedro Rodriguez had laid down a new lap record during qualifying in his Gulf-liveried car and Gerard Larrousse had just laid down a new top speed record in the pictured Martini car down the Mulsanne Straight.
Martini was fielding the 3 most interesting 917s in the race. They had this #21 917LH (chassis #042), the only Magnesium-framed 917 #22 (which won the race), and the infamous 917-20: The Pink Pig. Gulf Wyer on the other hand fielded the two other LH cars and one 917k (which would end up getting second place).
Despite being nearly 25mph faster down the Mulsanne straight, the LH cars were a little more unwieldy in the corners, so the K cars were able to keep up during the race.
The drivers of this #21 Martini LH car, Gerard Larrousse and Vic Elford, had both driven the two LH cars the previous year. Larrousse in the famed Hippie car that took 2nd place overall, and Elford in this same chassis car (#042) that had lead the 1970 race until it had a loss of oil pressure during the race. Both drivers were ready to tackle the 1971 LeMans in the latest and greatest version of the longtail made for LeMans.
Despite proving incredibly quick in practice and the beginning of the race, the Martini LH car was the first of the 917s to bow out with mechanical failure. The two other Gulf 917s would bravely soldier on at the front for some time before suffering mechanical failures with 6 hours left in the race. Despite the new LH bodies, two K cars would finish 1st and 2nd at this race. With the magnesium-chassis car taking first (and a distance record that would last 39 years), and the Gulf short tail in second place.
Despite the DNF's, the 1971 Porsche LH cars are some of the coolest ever designed.
As this is LiveandLetDiecast, I've picked up one of my grails to showcase here. This is the 1971 917LH chassis #042 made by AutoArt in (personally) the best Martini livery ever to grace a car. I wish there would be a throwback martini livery on a modern Porsche (I guess the recent Pink Pig 911 RSR sorta counts since they had sponsored that car. Martini also wanted nothing to do with the original Pink Pig since it was so ugly...).
This 1/18 scale model is of course very good. It's everything you'd expect from an AutoArt. Opening doors, engine bay, and frunk. All very well detailed and made from the glory days of AutoArts in diecast only. Granted, the prices are usually quite steep, but sometimes you can get lucky and get one at auction for the original list price like I did. It's well worth it.
Cheers everyone! I'll be posting some more things soon. I haven't had much to contribute recently... but now that fall is here I'm definitely back in the game!