Porsche 917 from "Le Mans" film heading to auctionEnlarge Photo
To a fair number of folks, the film Le Mans remains one of the greatest pieces of cinema focusing on the world of motorsport. The star of that film is not Steve McQueen, but rather the Porsche 917K that takes home the checkered flag. As is the case with most films, a number of cars were used to capture all of the footage required. One of those cars from the film just crossed the auction block on the sidelines of Monterey Car Week, and it managed to bring in just over $14 million.
Chassis 917-024 has lead an interesting life. It was used for testing at Le Mans, the Nürburgring, and Ehra-Lessien. Porsche then sold it to Jo Siffert, a factory test driver who helped turn the car around. It was initially incredibly difficult to drive until they figured out the formula for making it both quick and good.
McQueen was preparing to film Le Mans, so the production crew was tasked with rounding up a fleet of vehicles to use in filming. Chassis 917-024 was part of this group and it still wears its iconic Gulf livery to this day. After filming, Siffert kept the car and even reportedly drove it on the street once to arrive in style at his own birthday party. Sadly, Siffert died racing his BRM car when a suspension component failed at 160 mph.
The Porsche 917K was sold off to a collector in France in 1978. Chassis 917-024 didn't resurface until 2001. Found in a warehouse, it made headlines in the car collector world and was snatched up a buyer in Switzerland.
The car was then restored. A replacement frame was made, but the original has been kept, fixed, and is currently in place in the car.
The engine is from a different car, as the original was given back to Porsche after Siffert used it in the film. The engine code is 917-021 and has been with the car for decades. The winning bidder acquired the car, the extra frame, and so much documentation about chassis 917-024 they could make a new wing in the library that surely exists in one of their many homes.
It would be great to see this machine out on a race track where it was designed to run. Perhaps the new owner will be back in Monterey soon, and this car will be rolling off a trailer to be topped off with racing fuel.