When you’re collecting Porsches, it’s life. Everything before or after is just waiting.
Coming this August to RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction is arguably the most iconic Porsche racing car of all time, heck you could argue this is the single most iconic racing car period. Porsche has won more Le Mans 24s than any other company, the 917 was the car that started that ridiculous winning streak. I’d argue that Porsche wouldn’t be the company it is today without the 917. And this one, one which an entire motor sport action movie was built around, painted in the most iconic livery of all time, is coming up for sale.
At this year’s RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale, this 1970 Porsche 917K (chassis number 917-031/026) is destined to sell for more money than any Porsche has ever secured at public sale. The current record was secured by Gooding & Company at their California sale in 2017, when it sold a similar 917K (chassis 917-024) for just a smidgen over 14 million. That’s not the outright record for most expensive car, as there are a handful of Ferraris and McLaren F1s which have sold for more, but it’s a record for Porsches. RM Sotheby’s has not released a pre-auction estimate for its 917 yet, but I would argue that in today’s collector market, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it clear 20 million.
This car was originally constructed as 917-026 in preparation for the 1970 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was entered in the race by John Wyer’s Gulf Racing team, and featured a unique striped Gulf livery with an orange stripe down its center. With David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood driving, unfortunately the car only lasted 49 laps at La Sarthe when Hailwood shunted the car in the wet. OK, so not a very auspicious start for the chassis. The car was delivered from Porsche to Gulf Racing in May of 1970, and in June of the same year it was already terminally wrecked.
After Le Mans the car was sent back to Porsche for a thorough rejiggering. The tube chassis was considered too far gone to be fixed, so Porsche replaced it with a new scaffolding, chassis number 031. It was given a new Spyder body with an open top to compete in the European InterSerie championship for Group 7 sports racing cars, effectively the European version of Can Am here in the States. The car raced well in the InterSerie under privateer Ernst Kraus before he sold it to Georg Loos and the Gelo Racing Team ahead of the 1973 season. Gelo entered the car in 73 and 74 before it was retired from competition when Group 7 rules were shut down.
It entered the Chandon Collection from 74 to 1988, before entering the collection of Mike Amalfitano, and finally selling to the current owner around 2008. All that time the car remained in its Group 7 spyder configuration, before the seller had the car fully restored over the last decade or so.
Is this the kind of car you’d come off of twenty million dollars to own? And more importantly, if you did, would you drive it? You’ll have your opportunity to answer those questions in August at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale.