Porsche is getting ready for its return to Le Mans in 2014. And it wants to remind you all that in 1971 it thoroughly and properly kicked ass. The monstrous 240-mile-an-hour 917 took first and second places, setting multiple records along the way. Oh, and 10 of the 13 cars that finished that year were Porsches.
In 1971 Porsche built the first magnesium-framed 917. The delicate birdcage of highly flammable and ultra-lightweight metal weighed just 42 kilograms, or 92 pounds. The frame was swathed in gossamer sheets of flowing fiberglass and perspex and given menacing tail fins. Then Porsche gingerly installed their latest creation: A magnesium and titanium air-cooled flat 12 good for more than 600 horsepower. The results were positively manic. Click through to see a highlight reel from the season, featuring the tarmac-swallowing, fire-breathing, time-warping 917.
The 917/30 variant could hit 62 mph in just 2.3 seconds and 124 in 5.3. It had a top speed of more than 240 mph. The comparable Ferrari of the day, the 512, had trouble breaking 200 mph.
In testing, driver Jackie Oliver did an average 155 mph per lap, the highest average speed ever recorded. The Martini Racing team went on to win Le Mans that year. Drivers Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep went 3,315 miles, a distance record, at an average speed of 155 mph, a speed record. The record remained untouched for decades.
A Porsche 917 in Gulf livery also took second place. Porsche 911s and even 907s took the majority of the other positions in the race. Only two Ferraris finished.
If the video below doesn’t get you excited about Porsche’s return to Le Mans next year, you’re not human.