Porsche’s 917 series cars were among the fastest and most successful racers ever built, racking up numerous endurance series wins and recording a speed of some 246 miles per hour on Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight.
With changes in competition classes about to make the enclosed 917 uncompetitive, in 1972 Porsche turned its attention to the hotly-contested North American Canadian-American Challenge (Can-Am) series. No parallel series exists today, but the Can-Am series showcased the best drivers of the era in cars that were insanely fast, even by contemporary standards.
In 1972, Penske driver Mark Donahue was injured in a testing accident, so the team hired stand-in George Follmer to drive its new 917/10 open-cockpit racer. In competition trim, the car boasted some 850 horsepower from its turbocharged flat-12 engine, and Follmer easily took the championship in the new Porsche.
The car returned for the 1973 season, earning a second-place finish in Follmer’s capable hands. It was no match, however, for the latest Porsche 917 variant, the 917/30, which produced an almost unbelievable 1,580 horsepower.
Mark Donahue piloted a 917/30 to the championship in 1973, but it was to be Porsche’s swan song in Can-Am racing. Rule changes for the 1974 season favored the Chevy V-8 powered Shadows, and Porsche 917 variants ran just two races. Because of its sheer speed and dominance in 1973, the 917 became known as “the car that killed Can Am racing.”
Now you can own a piece of Can Am history, providing you have a big enough bank account. As Autoweek tells us, the Porsche 917/10 that carried Follmer to victory in 1972 (and second place in 1973) is hitting the block at Mecum’s August Monterey auction.
We haven’t seen a pre-auction estimate, but Mecum estimates the car may set a new record price for a Porsche sold at auction, and given the car’s historical significance, we’d be inclined to agree with them. We’ll admit to having a soft spot for 917s of any variant, so we’ll keep you updated on the car’s auction price.