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Legends Displayed at the Porsche Museum: 917/20

Submitted by on November 27, 2020

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

Our European correspondent Marcel Hundscheid paid the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart a visit last July, and came back with some great photos of the legends within. In this second episode we take a closer look at the remarkable Porsche 917/20, a unique one-off and rare variant of the legendary Porsche 917.

Early in its career, the 917 showed shortcomings in terms of handling at high speeds, which led to Porsche exploring the possibility of finding more downforce and less air resistance. The German manufacturer teamed up with the French aerospace specialist SERA and their chief engineer Robert Choulet helped invent the long back (Langheck) variant of the Porsche 917. The 917/20 was an attempt to combine the advantages of the short and long tail 917.

The outcome of this cooperation was an odd looking beast. In fact, Porsche designer Anatole Lapine described the car as a waddling pig. The body of the 917/20 was radically modified and as a result, the car was so wide that it would no longer fit in Porsche’s race trucks.

The car was short and very large, and lost the elegant lines of the original 917. It was such a departure that when Porsche arrived at Le Mans in April 1971 for the official test, Italian Count and Porsche’s Martini title sponsor Count Gregorio Rossi decided that the car was too ugly to drive and bear the Martini livery.

So, Lapine painted the car pink for the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1971 and gave it a design featuring dotted lines that you’d see at butcher shop to show various cuts of meat on an animal. It would earn the nickname ‘Pink Pig’.

A pig it was not, however. It may have been widened, with its nose squared off to prevent air getting underneath the body and generating lift, but it weighed a slim 909 kilograms and had a 4907 cc V12 capable of 600 bhp at 8300 rpm nestled in its midriff. This was enough to push it to 360 km/h, which would make short work of the Mulsanne.

The Truffelhunter from Zuffenhausen, driven by Reinhold Joest and Willi Kauhsen qualified in seventh place and ran in third place during the race for a while. Joest made a mistake braking into Arnage resulting in a DNF. Later it was revealed that the brakes on the Pink Pig didn’t work properly. It would be the one and only appearance of this remarkable car, the 917/20 chassis was never raced again.

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