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It’s Time to Buy a Porsche 917K

Submitted by on September 18, 2014

1969 Porsche 917

Images: Canepa

“Porsche had, typically, done it first, and at a stroke every other car was out of date.” – John Wyer

This 1969 Porsche 917K, considered the first 917 to complete a race and recently treated to one of the most meticulous high-end restorations that a historic Porsche has ever seen, is up for sale at Canepa.

1969 Porsche 917

On the evening before the 1969 12 Hours of Sebring two very important people in the world of motorsport were having a chat. In one corner was Rico Steinemann, Porsche team manager, and in the other was John Wyer of J.W. Automotive Engineering. They were discussing the Porsche factory racing program for the next two years, and they were about to shake things up.

Steinemann was busy offering Wyer the Porsche factory racing contract for ’70 and ’71 and Wyer was working out how he could convince Gulf Oil that this was a very good idea. They made a gentleman’s agreement, and parted ways with a season of racing to organise the fine details and get started.

During that season J.W. Automotive Engineering won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in their Gulf GT40, collecting their second in a row and the GT40’s fourth. Porsche won the Championship of Makes. Guess which car would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970?

1969 Porsche 917

Porsche had agreed to supply J.W.A.E with seven 917s in 1970, and the first of those was chassis 917-004 – this car. The car had seen action already, running in the ’69 1000KM Nurburgring at the hands of Frank Gardner and David Piper and finishing 8th overall, contributing to Porsche’s Championship of Makes.

That race was the second contested by a 917. The first was at Spa Francorchamps earlier in the year, but that 917 was forced out during the first lap with a mechanical, so this car became the first 917 to complete a race.

J.W.A.E received the 917 at the end of ’69 and had it well sorted by March for the upcoming 1000KM at Brands Hatch, along with a sister car in chassis 016. Jo Siffert and Brian Redman had the pleasure of driving 004, running between second and third after a flat at the start, before they were collected by Chris Amon’s Ferrari on lap 177 and taken out of the race. The sister car, 016, would go on to win the race, with Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen at the wheel.

1969 Porsche 917

Although the damage to chassis 004 was easily-repairable, the hectic race schedule led the team to return the chassis to Porsche for repair and replace it with chassis 017. The chassis tag from the original chassis was removed and welded to the new 017 chassis to create 004/017.

That chassis then began to move around the world, slowly coalescing into its complete form as it passed between Alan Hamilton of Hamiltons in Australia, Pat Burke and then to David Piper in the late ’80s, who had driven the car in its first outing some two decades prior. David Piper would finally complete the car in 1989 in its original Gulf colours, adding the vertical fin tail from ’71.

MORE: David Piper’s Porsche 917

1969 Porsche 917

Its historic racing career kicked off with Miguel Amaral of Portugal, who raced it through Europe in the mid-2000s before sending it to California and entrusting it to Kerry Morse to oversee a restoration.

Fast forward to 2011 and Bruce Canepa found and purchased it, planning a full and immaculate restoration to its Gulf Brands Hatch specification. Each component of the machine was seen to by the absolute pinnacle of expertise in its field, bringing together many workshops to create the most accurate restoration of a 917 to date, vetted by the team at Canepa.

1969 Porsche 917

Now in its finished state it’s not just amongst the neatest Porsches we’ve seen, it’s one of the most painstaking and refined restorations we’ve seen of any car. It’s utterly immaculate.

One of the original cars used for homologation in 1969, enjoying the distinction as the first of Porsche’s iconic 917s to have completed a race, and now finished as one of the most accurate and immaculate 917s in existence, this one’s a keeper.

Head to Canepa’s website here for more information.

Images via Canepa.

Looking for more 917 action? Why not go for a spin with Bruce Canepa in a 917?

1969 Porsche 917

1969 Porsche 917

1969 Porsche 917

1969 Porsche 917

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