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Porsche 917 (1970)

  
The Porsche 917 in grey enamel (L) and Spectraflame hot pink (R).

The Porsche 917 was one of two new cars added to the Grand Prix Series in 1970.


The real Porsche 917 was the brainchild of Ferdinand Piech, Ferry Porsche's nephew.  His goal was simple: win Le Mans!  From the start, the plan was to build a very light car in order to be able to be competitive with the powerful Fords and Ferraris.  However, Porsche's new flat-12 engines performed far above expectations and the 917s, when initially tested in early 1969 were amazingly fast!  In April 1969, the first Le Mans test run was taken.  On one stretch, the 917 was clocked at 216 mph!  However, although the 917 was a very fast car, it wasn't particularly quick around a full lap.  Handling and control was poor through the fast corners.  To solve this problem, small adjustable spoilers were fitted to the rear of the car.  Although three 917s were entered in the 1969 Le Mans race, none finished.  It was a different story in 1970-71.  Of the 21 races the 917 ran in during those two seasons, it recorded 14 wins and two 2nd place finishes.  This included 1-2 finishes at both the 1970 and 1971 Le Mans.  In the 1971 Le Mans race, the winning 917 set a record for laps completed that stands to this day.  Later versions of the Porsche 917 were highly successful, culminating in a world speed record of over 250 mph set by Mark Donahue in 1975 on a straightaway of the Talladega Motor Speedway.

 
  At left, an early Porsche 917; at right, a Porsche 917 about to win the 1970 Daytona 24 Hours.

The Hot Wheels version of the Porsche 917 is a beautiful reproduction of the early Porsche 917.  The car featured a wrap-around windscreen and a rear hatch that included a triangular window over the flat-12 engine.  Unlike the 1969 Grand Prix cars, the Porsche 917 had a black-painted tail light panel and red-painted tail lights.  Blister packs included a sticker sheet with "18" racing numbers and rocker panel stripes with the word "Porsche".


A pair of HK Porsche 917 in Spectraflame red and aqua.

The Porsche 917 was produced in various Spectraflame colors, as well as in grey enamel.  Porsche 917s were made at both the US and HK plants.  Cars produced at the US plant featured a clear windscreen, white interior, and a flat black- painted tail light panel.  HK cars have a blue-tinted windscreen, brown or black interior, and a gloss black-painted tail light panel.  HK cars are marked "Hong Kong" on the rear of the base.  As with all 1970 cars, Porsche 917s have cap style wheels, with medium-sized wheels all around. 


  Grey enamel HK and US Porsche 917s.

The Porsche 917 can be found in some of the first generation colors and is common in most of the second generation colors.  See the chart below for a complete list.  Whereas the 1969 Le Mans and CanAm cars can be found in many US colors and a few HK colors, the 1970 cars like the Porsche 917 were made in many colors at both plants.  In fact, for the 917, most colors were done by both plants!  For whatever reason, some colors are much more rare than others.  Interestingly, colors that are rare on non-existent for the 917 (e.g. orange, HK purple) are not rare for the other 1970 Grand Prix car, the Ferrari 312P.


US/HK Porsche 917 "color pairs": light green, lime and yellow.

The rarest and most valuable Porsche 917 is without a doubt the HK car in purple.  While there are other Grand Prix cars (e.g. yellow Ford Mk IV, magenta Lola) that are more scarce than a purple 917, this car is a bit of a legend among redline Hot Wheel collectors.  Part of the reason for it's popularity are the purple color (a favorite among many collectors) and the beautiful lines of the casting.

 
A rare purple HK Porsche 917.

The Porsche 917 was one of only two Grand Prix cars to be produced as part of the 1973 Hot Wheels line up.  As early as 1971, all Hot Wheels cars were produced in Hong Kong.  For 1973, to further reduce production costs, the cars were painted in a series of solid enamel colors.  These paints masked the underlying metal so that plating and polishing of the car bodies was minimized.  Due to poor sales during the previous two years, 1973 production runs were smaller.  Hence, the 1973 models are quite scarce.  Since the enamel paint is very prone to chipping, these cars are especially difficult to find in good condition.  The 1973 Porsche 917 was produced in
red, yellow, fluorescent lime green, dark blue, light blue, orange and fluorescent pink.  Of these colors, orange is the most difficult to find.


1973 enamel Ferrari 917s in rfluorescent pink and fluorescent lime green.


The Porsche 917 was re-issued in 1974 with racing tampos.  For more information, please see the Flying Colors page.


 
Porsche 917 Color chart

US COLORS:
COMMENTS:
grey enamel
common
light green common
magenta
common
lime
hot pink

rose
yellow
salmon
red hard to find
green hard to find
blue hard to find
aqua rare


HK COLORS:
blue common
light green
common
grey enamel

lime
green
yellow hard to find
red hard to find
pink
hard to find
aqua rare
purple rare



Pink 917s, clockwise from bottom: US hot pink, US salmon, HK pink, '73 enamel.


  How's this for rare?  A purple HK Porsche 917 still in the blister!


  US (front row) and HK (back row) Porsche 917 rainbows!


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