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The Porsche 917: If You're Looking for the Most Extreme Road-Legal Porsche, Look No Further

Porsche celebrates 50 years of the legendary 911 Turbo at Retro Classics 2024, showcasing rare models, historical exhibits, and a glimpse into the future of electrified performance.

If you have been wondering lately, what the most extreme road-legal Porsche money can buy, then let me tell you folks a story of a Porsche, that came along, way before the Carrera GTs and 911 GT2 RS MRs of the world and put Porsche on the map as the premier performance car maker. This one model stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of exclusivity, historical significance, and sheer adrenaline-pumping excitement: the road-legal Porsche 917.

Born from the mind of Ferdinand Piëch, the 917 was a racing juggernaut that dominated the world of motorsport in the early 1970s. Piëch, who would later become the chairman of the Volkswagen Group, envisioned the 917 as the ultimate racing machine, capable of conquering the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. His vision became a reality, with the 917 securing back-to-back victories at Le Mans in 1970 and 1971, solidifying its place in racing history.

Porsche 917 Road Going Version - History

But the 917's legacy extends beyond the racetrack. A select few of these iconic machines have been converted for road use, creating a rare and coveted breed of Porsche that's more valuable than even the revered Carrera GT, 918 Spyder, or 959. The sheer determination to turn this track monster into a road-legal car just goes to show the sheer mysticism built around the 917.

  • Porsche 917: Legendary race car turned road-legal icon.
  • Le Mans victories: 917 secured back-to-back wins in 1970 and 1971.
  • Road-legal rarity: Only a handful of 917s modified for street use.
  • Priceless value: Road-legal 917s estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.
  • Technical specifications: Flat-12 engine, 4.5-5.0 liter displacement, over 500 horsepower.

Facts and Figures:

  • 1969: Porsche 917 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show.
  • 1970-1971: 917 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • 1972-1973: 917/30 dominated the Can-Am series.
  • 25: Number of 917s originally built to meet homologation requirements.
  • 3: Number of known road-legal 917s in existence.
  • Millions of dollars: Estimated value of a road-legal Porsche 917.

Porsche 917 Road Going Version - History The Birth of a Legend: From Race Track to Public Roads

The transformation of the Porsche 917 from a purpose-built race car to a road-legal machine was no easy feat. It required meticulous modifications and a willingness to navigate bureaucratic hurdles. One of the first individuals to undertake this ambitious project was Count Gregorio Rossi di Montelera, the heir to the Martini & Rossi fortune. He commissioned Porsche to modify his 917, chassis 030, with basic road-legal equipment like mirrors, turn signals, and an exhaust system.

However, European authorities were hesitant to certify such an extreme machine for road use. Undeterred, Count Rossi obtained an Alabama license plate, allowing him to drive his 917 on public roads in the United States. This bold move set a precedent for other 917 owners, paving the way for the registration of a handful of these iconic cars in various parts of the world.

The Rare Breed: Road-Legal 917s and Their Priceless Value

The road-legal 917s are not mere conversions that show just how far real fans of the brand would go to have the ultimate Porsche. These individuals, driven by a desire to experience the raw power and visceral thrill of the 917 on public roads, invested significant time and resources to make their dreams a reality.

Chassis 021, owned by Joachim Grossman, stands as a testament to this dedication. Grossman, a German enthusiast, painstakingly rebuilt and modified his 917 to appease the German inspectors and regulations. He even managed to secure a German license plate for the car, a remarkable feat considering its racing heritage and German folk's well-known reputation for leniency.

Porsche 917 Road Going Version - History

Perhaps the most iconic road-legal 917 is chassis 037, owned by Claudio Roddaro of Monaco. This meticulously maintained example, with its Gulf Oil livery and distinctive Martini stripes, is a sight to behold. Roddaro's 917 was officially registered for road use in 2016, making it one of the few examples that can legally roam the streets of Europe.

The value of these road-legal 917s is difficult to quantify. They rarely change hands publicly, and their historical significance and extreme rarity make them virtually priceless. Some experts estimate that a road-legal 917 could easily fetch tens of millions of dollars in the collector car market, surpassing the value of other iconic Porsche models like the Carrera GT, 918 Spyder, and 959.

Owning a road-legal 917 is not just about the financial investment; it's about owning a piece of motorsport history. These cars represent a bygone era of unbridled engineering and raw, unfiltered performance. They are a symbol of Porsche's racing pedigree and a testament to the enduring appeal of the 917.

Porsche 917 Road Going Version - History The Porsche 917: A Closer Look at its Racing Pedigree

The Porsche 917 wasn't just any race car; it was a groundbreaking machine that revolutionized motorsport. Its aerodynamic design, lightweight construction, and powerful flat-12 engine made it a formidable force on the track. The 917's dominance at Le Mans and other prestigious races solidified everything that makes Porsche special today.

The car's success was due in part to the innovative thinking of Ferdinand Piëch. He pushed the boundaries of what was considered possible, constantly seeking ways to improve the 917's performance and reliability. Piëch's relentless pursuit of excellence led to numerous technical advancements, including the development of a new type of magnesium chassis and a revolutionary turbocharged engine.

The 917's legacy extends far beyond its racing achievements. It inspired a generation of engineers and designers, influencing the development of countless sports cars and supercars. The 917's DNA can be seen in modern Porsche models like the 911 GT3 RS and the 918 Spyder, which continue to push the limits of performance and innovation.

Even today, the 917 remains an object of fascination and admiration for car enthusiasts around the world. 

Image Source: Porsche Newsroom 

Author Bio

Bhavik Sreenath is an automotive expert, writer, and founder of Motolog Studio. With a Master's in Automotive Journalism and experience in publications like Bodyshop Magazine, he delivers compelling stories about the cars we love. From designing magazine layouts to reporting on eco-conscious practices, he brings a multifaceted perspective to automotive writing. His experience in Automotive Journalism makes him a vocal voice for car enthusiasts and industry insiders. Follow Bhavik on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook, to stay in touch and up-to-date with the latest EV and battery development news.