INTRODUCTION

LM917 HANS MEZGER EDITION

The Air-Cooled Chronograph

A powerful edition of mechanical Swiss watches inspired by the Le Mans-winning 917 racing car. Created in collaboration with legendary Porsche engine developer Hans Mezger, this edition perfectly unites the 917’s racing spirit and technical excellence.

Edition limited to 917 pieces.

AIR-COOLING MECHANISM

The turbine-style small second hand at 9h represents a reference to the air-cooling fan of the air-cooled Porsche engines. But, it actually also creates a micro-airflow that supports the heat exchange between the slightly warmer air of the lower part of the watch case (air is warmer mainly due to exposure to body heat) and the cooler air above the dial. Fueled by the constant movement of this miniature air-cooling fan, the warmer air from the “engine room” of the watch circulates through the openings of the dial to the cooler below the sapphire crystal. This leads to a slightly improved temperature balance within the watch case.

DESIGN

The LM917 Hans Mezger Edition features several design details inspired by the 917 racing car such as the air-cooling fan, the honeycomb structure of the Sterling Silver dial with its design reminiscent of race liveries, the racing flag at 4h – the traditonal Le Mans start time, the firing order of the engine on the case-side, the design of the typical 917 wheels on the caseback,… and the official signature of engineer Hans Mezger on the inside of the front Sapphire Crystal.

A truly extraordinary Edition of Air-Cooled Chronographs commemorating the Ultimate Racing Car of the 20th Century

ORIGINAL 917 MATERIAL

Each edition timepiece contains genuine Porsche 917 metal. The parts were integrated into the watch cases of the edition, so that each of the numbered edition watches includes the DNA of the legendary 917 racing car.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

 

Edition Name: LM917 Hans Mezger Edition – The Air-Cooled Chronograph

Case: 43mm, Stainless Steel incl. Scalfaro Ceramic DNA Intarsia and Original 917 Material, 100m/330ft Water-Resistance

Movement: ADK Swiss Chronograph Calibre 153, mechanical Swiss Chronograph with automatic Winding Mechanism, Engraved Rotor

Features: Chronograph, Air-Cooled Small Seconds, Date

Crystal: Sapphire Crystal (Front and Caseback)

Bracelet: Stainless Steel, Folding Buckle

Edition Limitation: 917 Pieces

Price: Euro 7.750,-

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DETAILED DESCRIPTION

SCALFARO LM917 HANS MEZGER WATCH EDITION – THE FIRST AIR-COOLED CHRONOGRAPH

Limited Edition of Mechanical Wristwatches commemorating the iconic Porsche 917 racing car and its legendary engineer Hans Mezger

SUMMARY:

Inspired by the “Greatest Racing Car of all Time” – the Porsche 917 – watch manufacture SCALFARO and engineer HANS MEZGER created the limited SCALFARO LM917 HANS MEZGER EDITION of mechanical Swiss timepieces featuring genuine 917 material. The design was realized in close collaboration with legendary engineer Hans Mezger – the mastermind behind the 917’s impressive air-cooled 12-cylinder engine – and unites the uncompromising racing spirit of the Le Mans-winning 917 as well as its technical superiority. It was the 917 engine’s characteristic air-cooling fan that sparked the idea of creating the world’s first air-cooled chronograph – visible by the turbine-style small second hand at the 9h position on the timepiece’s elaborate three-dimensional solid Sterling Silver dial. Furthermore genuine 917 metal parts were integrated into the watch cases, so that each of the individually numbered edition watches not only features numerous design elements of the 917 racing car, but also contains the authentic DNA of this racetrack icon and thus a direct link to its fascinating history. The official signature of engineer Hans Mezger adorns the face of each chronograph and underlines the exclusivity of this edition limited to 917 pieces. Further details include: 43mm case diameter, Scalfaro Ceramic DNA Intarsia, Swiss mechanical chronograph movement, off-shape bezel incl. tachymeter scale, sapphire crystal, see-through case back, solid stainless steel bracelet, folding buckle, water-resistant to 100m (330ft). 

Each SCALFARO LM917 HANS MEZGER EDITION watch is individually numbered.

A WORK OF ART

Conceived with great attention to detail, radiating with quality in every aspect from the sophisticated construction of its watch case with its refined surface finishing and the elaborate mechanism of its Swiss automatic movement, each timepiece of this edition is made to last and reflects the passion that lead to the creation of the legendary 917 racing car.

Manufactured in a rare artisanal process combining traditional crafts as well as modern technology, each timepiece is a unique work of art preserving the DNA of the iconic 917.

“IN NATURE, NOTHING IS CREATED, NOTHING IS DESTROYED, EVERYTHING IS TRANSFORMED”

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, 18th Century

At Scalfaro we transform genuine material of iconic objects into technical masterpieces that carry emotions, bring pleasure to people and tell intriguing stories. By skillfully blending history with technological modernity we preserve the legends and achievements of the past and proudly carry their fascination into our modern age.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION:

INTRODUCTION

Watch manufacturer “SCALFARO – Watches for Enthusiasts” launches the world’s first air-cooled chronograph as a tribute to the Le Mans-winning Porsche 917 racing car and chief engineer Hans Mezger – creator of the 917’s legendary air-cooled 12-cylinder engine.

This extraordinary edition – limited to 917 timepieces worldwide – captures the racing spirit and engineering excellence of the indomitable Porsche 917 with its aggressive elegance and technical superiority. The LM917 air-cooled chronograph strikes not only with its powerful design, but also with its fine mechanical movement, flawless quality and a number of intriguing details inspired by the 917 and engineer Hans Mezger: the masterfully engraved solid Sterling Silver dial with its honeycomb-structure and design inspired by race liveries and engine components, the racing flag and red no. 24 as a tribute to the Le Mans 24h victories, the turbine-style small second hand representing the air-cooling fan, the central hands inspired by the car’s instrument hands, the outline of the typical 917 racing wheels on the sapphire crystal of the case back incl. the famous Le Mans racetrack sections Arnage, Tertre Rouge, Hunaudières and Mulsanne, the ignition pattern of the Hans Mezger-designed 12-cylinder engine on the side of the case back,… As a special feature, the watch cases contain original Porsche 917 metal and engineer Hans Mezger’s official signature adorns the face of each of the numbered watches underlining the exclusivity of this limited edition.

THE PORSCHE 917 – THE GREATEST RACING CAR OF ALL TIME

The Porsche 917 was designed by Hans Mezger under the leadership of Ferdinand Piëch. It is considered as the strongest, fiercest and most iconic racing car of all time. The 917’s air-cooled 12-cylinder engine with its rare central drive concept designed by engineer Hans Mezger is the strongest air-cooled engine ever made, producing up to 1580hp at full boost in its 1973 turbocharged version. Only 65 units of the 917 were built between 1968 and 1973 in various configurations ranging from the 917K and 917LH short- and long-tail coupés for endurance racing to the 917/30 open-top spyders raced in the American CanAm series. The 917 was campaigned between 1969 and 1973 achieving victories at the most important racetracks and race series of its time – most notably it earned Porsche two victories at Le Mans in 1970 and 1971 – the first two of a total of 16 overall victories for Porsche at Le Mans to date (15 of which were achieved with engines designed by engineer Hans Mezger). The 917 also won Porsche the World Sports Car Championship in 1970 and 1971 beating such competitors as the Ferrari 512S/M and the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 as well as the CanAm Championship in 1972 and 1973 ending McLaren’s domination of CanAm.

The 917 was driven by the most skilled and most fierce pilots of its days incl. Hans Herrmann, Richard Attwood, Helmut Marko, Gijs van Lennep, Jo Siffert, Vic Elford, Brian Redman, Jackie Oliver, Derek Bell, Mark Donohue, Pedro Rodriguez, David Piper, Gerard Larrousse, Kurt Ahrens, Jürgen Barth,… to name but a few.

The 917’s characteristic race liveries incl. John Wyer’s Gulf Racing, Count Rossi’s Martini Racing, the psychedelic Hippie or the curious “Pink Pig” (Trüffeljäger or Sau) design have elevated the 917 almost to the sphere of art – the Art of Racing. Last but not least, its prominent role in Lee Katzin’s “Le Mans” film starring Steve McQueen as 917 pilot Michael Delaney has secured the 917 a top spot on every man’s dream-car list.

AIR-COOLING MECHANISM OF THE LM917 HANS MEZGER CHRONOGRAPH

The turbine-style small second hand at 9h represents a reference to the air-cooling fan of the air-cooled Porsche engines. But, it actually also creates a micro-airflow that supports the heat exchange between the slightly warmer air of the lower part of the watch case (air is warmer mainly due to exposure to body heat) and the cooler air above the dial. Fueled by the constant movement of this miniature air-cooling fan, the warmer air from the “engine room” of the watch circulates through the openings of the dial to the cooler below the sapphire crystal. This leads to a slightly improved temperature balance within the watch case.

WATCH CASE FEATURING GENUINE 917 PARTS

After having worked with high-tech ceramics for years, the SCALFARO team developed the innovative “SCALFARO CERAMIC INTARSIA TECHNOLOGY – SCIT” integrating high-tech ceramics in its sophisticated stainless steel watch cases. The SCALFARO CERAMIC INTARSIA TECHNOLOGY perfectly unites traditional craftsmanship with the latest technological achievements.

This new technique was used to incorporate design elements such as the racing flag pattern and the red no. 24 commemorating the 917’s race victories in particular its two victorious participations in the Le Mans 24h race into the watch case. These little details comprise another highlight of this edition: The SCALFARO team integrated genuine 917 parts into the watch cases. As a result, each watch from this special edition contains genuine “DNA” from the legendary 917 race car and therefore represents a direct link to its fascinating history.

The solid stainless steel bracelet with its sophisticated surface finishing and its elegant folding buckle completes the pleasant feel of wearing a design icon and engineering masterpiece on the wrist.

MECHANICAL SWISS MOVEMENT

The SCALFARO LM917 HANS MEZGER EDITION is powered by a highly precise Swiss mechanical chronograph engine (Scalfaro Swiss Calibre ADK153) visible through the Sapphire crystal of the exhibition case back.

The skillfully engineered automatic winding mechanism is responsible for a steady energy supply reliably fuelling the functions of the movement incl. the chronograph mechanism.

TECHNICAL FEATURES

Further technical details include: 43mm case diameter, Scalfaro Ceramic DNA Intarsia, Swiss mechanical chronograph movement, off-shape bezel, sapphire crystal, see-through case back, solid stainless steel bracelet with folding buckle and sophisticated surface finishing, water-resistant to 100m (330ft).

SCALFARO-LM917Mezger-Overview-Tech

SCALFARO-LM917Mezger-Overview-Design

TECHNICAL DETAILS OF THE SCALFARO LM917 HANS MEZGER EDITION WATCHES:

– Watch case diameter: 43mm;
– Movement: Scalfaro Swiss Chronograph Calibre ADK 153 with automatic winding mechanism;
– Stainless steel watch case with SCALFARO Ceramic DNA Intarsia incl. genuine Porsche 917 metal;
– Bezel incl. Tachymeter scale;
– Racing flag at 12h (incl. red no. 24 inspired by the 24h of Le Mans) and 6h position incl. Scalfaro’s Ceramic DNA Intarsia;
– Solid Sterling Silver (925) dial incl. elaborate 3-dimensional engraving, skeletonized see-through areas and air-cooled mark; racing flag at 4h to mark the traditional Le Mans start time of 4pm; design inspired by engine components, air-cooling fan and legendary 917 race liveries;
– Sapphire crystal with facsimile signature of engineer Hans Mezger and red “12”;
– See-through case back with Sapphire crystal featuring the outlines of the typical 917 racing wheels as well as the names of legendary Le Mans racetrack sectors, case back fixed with 4 ScalfaScrews and engraved with the firing order of the car’s 12-cylinder engine on the side;
– Solid stainless steel bracelet with elaborate surface finishing and Scalfaro folding buckle incl. safety push-buttons;
– Water-resistance 100m (330ft / 10atm);
– Limited to 917 pieces worldwide incl. individual numbering (022/917,…)

BACKGROUND INFO

BELOW YOU FIND EXTENSIVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE PARTNERS & ELEMENTS OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY EDITION:

  • PROFILE OF ENGINEER HANS MEZGER
  • SHORT MODEL BIO PORSCHE 917
  • SCALFARO – WATCHES FOR ENTHUSIASTS

PROFILE OF ENGINEER HANS MEZGER (born November 18th, 1929 in Ottmarsheim/Germany):

Born in 1929 in a small village near Stuttgart/Southern Germany, Hans Mezger finished his grammar school in Ludwigsburg in 1949 and graduated from the University of Stuttgart with a degree in technical engineering in 1956.

Although he had around 25 job-offers from all types of companies, he applied to work for Porsche where he hoped to be able to work on sports car development as he had great interest in the field of motorsport. Porsche accepted his application in October 1956, but put him to work in the calculations department of the engine development section in Zuffenhausen. It was only in 1960 that Hans Mezger

These were interesting times at Porsche with personalities like Ferry Porsche, Ernst Furhmann, Karl Rabe, Franz-Xaver Reimspiess and Erwin Komenda still active in the company.

In 1959, Porsche decided to develop an eight-cylinder engine (Type 753) for participating in F1 racing. In 1960 Hans Mezger’s hopes of working on racing engines became reality when he was asked to join Porsche’s Formula One development team. The Porsche 804 F1 racer only took part in the 1962 season (achieving the only F1 victory for Porsche to date at the French GP in Rouen), before its development was stopped in order to concentrate on the successor of the Porsche 356, the new 901 road car which was to become the legendary Porsche 911.

The development of the engine of the 901 had started as early as 1959. Beginning of 1963 Hans Mezger was moved from the obsolete F1 team to the department for engine development and was assigned with the task of solving the existing performance problems of the 6-cylinder engine and finishing its development in time for the 901’s premiere at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1963. Soon he was joined by an ambitious young engineer who had just joined Porsche, Ferdinand Piëch, the nephew of Ferry Porsche. Among the other close collaborators of Hans Mezger were also Hans Bischof (brother of Porsche’s director of Classic Motorsport Klaus Bischof), Peter Falk, Herbert Linge and Helmuth Bott – to name but a few. The hard-working team aimed to finish the engine development in time for the mentioned Frankfurt show and to have production of the engine running by Autumn of 1964. They achieved their goals by largely re-engineering the 821 engine incorporating significant changes such as the replacement of its complicated “Königswellen”-camshaft drive with a camshaft chain-drive and the use of a dry-sump oiling system. Consequently the name of the engine type was also changed to 901. The 901 engine was to become the base for 14 overall victories at Le Mans and would remain in use in the 911 series for decades.

In 1965 Ferdinand Piëch – who shared Hans Mezger’s interest for aviation engineering – became head of the experimental & development department. He placed a big emphasis on performance and competition – a trait of character apparent throughout his entire career. By the way, also Ferry Porsche had always placed great importance on racing activity, but always insisted that the racing activity must also create valuable input for Porsche’s road cars. Ferdinand Piëch was determined to continue this tradition. So, in 1965 he created a dedicated motorsport department – the legendary “Rennabteilung” (Race Design Office) – with Hans Mezger as its director. One of the declared goals of the Rennabteilung was to win the Manufacturers World Endurance Championship and of course the 24h of Le Mans – the most important and toughest long-distance race – for Porsche.

In April 1968 the CSI changed the regulations for large-capacity racing cars lowering the min. quantity of cars to be produced from 50 to 25. Porsche grabbed the opportunity – a truly bold move by Ferdinand Piëch – and in June 1968 the Rennabteilung started the development of a sports racing car incorporating a 12-cylinder 4.5 litre engine – the Porsche 917. On April 21, 1969 – only 10 months later – Porsche proudly presented 25 “drivable” 917s lined up in the courtyard of Werk I in Zuffenhausen. Homologation was received on May 1st 1969. Ferdinand Piëch later admitted that this was one of the most risky projects of his entire career as it stretched Porsche’s finances to the max (investment of an estimated 15 mio. Deutsche Mark) and would have caused major damage if not struck disaster in case of failure. But, history would prove Mr. Piëch right and the 917 has become an indispensable part of the Porsche legend and identity.

Hans Mezger went to Le Mans for the first time in the early 1960s, but, it was not until 1970 that he would see a Porsche take the overall victory at La Sarthe. Porsche had chosen John Wyer’s Gulf Racing as its official factory-backed partner, but it was Team Porsche Salzburg’s 917 short-tail with Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood that would claim Porsche’s first ever 24 of Le Mans victory in 1970 (the team was run by Ferdinand Piëch’s sister Louise Piëch). The 917 even managed a second consecutive victory at Le Mans in 1971 with a 917 short-tail (incl. an innovative and highly dangerous magnesium space frame) driven by Gijs van Lennep and Helmut Marko setting a Le Mans 24h track record with an average speed of 222.30 km/h, covering 397 laps totaling just over 5,335 kilometers – the record was to remain unbeaten for over 30 years.

The 917 engine’s (engine type 912) most outstanding feature is its central drive concept which meant that the engine power is not taken as usual from the end of the crankshaft, but from the centre and the drive is then transmitted to the clutch by a lay shaft. This concept significantly increased the reliability of the engine also by reducing overlapping vibrations to almost zero. Another important feature of the type 912 engine is its crank’s 180 degree Vee-design with two connecting rods sharing the same bearing. Furthermore the 917’s air-cooling system was extremely efficient.

Hans Mezger worked closely with Ferdinand Piëch until 1972 when the Porsche Family decided to withdraw from active business within the company and Ferdinand Piëch would move on to Audi. The When the company was reorganized, the position of head of R&D was given to engineer Helmuth Bott – another important personality for the development of Porsche incl. its racing activities.

Not only did Hans Mezger develop the 12- and 16-cylinder engines of the 917 (which produced 1200hp in its turbo-charged CanAm configuration, the most powerful air-cooled engine ever), the 6-cylinder boxer and turbo engines of the 911, the race engines of the Porsche 935, 936, 956 and 962, but he also designed the legendary turbo-charged TAG formula one engine for McLaren. This 1.5l turbo engine developed up to 1000hp and was to become the most successful engine of the formula one turbo era, winning three 3 drivers’ world championships in a row (1984 to 1986). Also, it gave Hans Mezger the opportunity to see his work in action around the globe being present at many of the races.

Hans Mezger – together with his team – developed all the race engines for Porsche between 1962 and 1993. During this period his engines won 5 mark and team world championships, 5 driver world championships, 43 victories in championship races, 6 Le Mans victories, 4 IMSA titles and 52 IMSA race victories. Overall an unbelievable 15 of the total of 16 Porsche Le Mans victories were achieved with engines created by Hans Mezger.

When asked about his most important victories he names the 917’s victory in Le Mans in 1970 and the Tag Turbo F1 engine’s premier victory 1984 in Rio de Janeiro.

In 1994 Hans Mezger retired from Porsche for which he had worked for 37 years and played an important role in the company’s technical development especially its impressive racing success. his incredible achievements have earned him not only the respect of Porsche enthusiasts who call him “Engine Maestro”, but also several awards incl. the Porsche Prize, the Trofeo Colin Chapman, the Starley Premium Award and the Fürst Metternich Award. Up to this day, Hans Mezger expresses his great admiration for Ferry Porsche as a unique visionary and role-model and his great respect for Ferdinand Piëch without who some of the greatest victories of Porsche would not have been possible.

Today, Porsche describes Hans Mezger as one of the most important engineers of the company’s history.

Mezger, a father of two who loves to paint and play the piano, is a man of subtle tones and understatement – a true gentleman. Even today – still driving his beloved Porsche 911 – he is never short of pointing out that all the developments and achievements he was involved in at Porsche were only possible because of the great support and confidence of the members of the Porsche and Piëch Families as well as the members of his team whose support and input were just as important as his own work.

You can find more information on Hans Mezger’s career and life in Peter Morgan’s wonderful book “Porsche and ME”, Peter Morgan Media Ltd., 2011.

SHORT MODEL BIO PORSCHE 917:

The Porsche 917 unites many superlatives: First of all it is a milestone in Porsche’s history scoring the company’s first two victories at the Le Mans 24h – the most important endurance race. The 917 can also claim to be the fastest series production car ever made and being powered by the strongest air-cooled engine ever made. The Porsche 917 was acclaimed as “The Greatest Racing Car of all Time” in a poll conducted among 50 international motor sport experts by Motor Sport Magazine in 1997. In the 2000 edition of the Le Mans race, a Jury, composed of specialized journalists, declared the Porsche 917 as the “Car of the Century at Le Mans”.

The Porsche 917 was designed by Hans Mezger – chief engineer of the Rennabteilung – under the leadership of Ferdinand Piëch – nephew of Ferry Porsche and then head of the experimental & development department. The 917 was intended to finally bring Porsche its long desired Le Mans 24h victory thereby demonstrating the competence of the brand, but also proving the concept and performance of air-cooled engines to be fit for the future (archrival Ferrari relied on water-cooling technology).

The 917’s creation was sparked by an unexpected change of regulations in June 1967 by the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI, then the independent competition arm of today’s FIA) introducing a 3.0 litre capacity limit for “Group 6 – Prototype Sports Cars” which previously had no engine capacity limitation. The move was intended to end the arms race between Ferrari (Le Mans victories 1960 to 1965) and Ford (Le Mans victories 1966 to 1969) as well as to reduce the enormous speeds generated at Le Mans and other fast circuits of the day. Around April 1968, the CSI adjusted another regulation, the “Group 4 – Sports Cars” allowing for engines with a capacity of up to 5.0 litres now was only to require a reduced number of 25 cars to be built for homologation for the 1969 season instead of the previous 50 units. From 1968 the dual championship format for Group 4 and Group 6 cars was replaced by a single Championship of Makes open for both homologated Group 4 and Group 6 cars.

Porsche grabbed the opportunity – a truly bold move pushed mainly by Ferdinand Piëch – and in June 1968 in total secrecy the Rennabteilung (Porsche’s started the development of a sports racing car incorporating a 12-cylinder 4.5 litre engine – the Porsche 917. In only nine months the Porsche 917 was developed as an evolution of the Porsche 906, 907 and 908 coupés. Its mission was clear: Porsche’s first overall victory at Le Mans.

The 917 – painted in white with a green nose – was presented to a fascinated audience for the first time on March 12th, 1969 at the Geneva Motor Show (with a price tag of DM 140.000 it was roughly 10 times the price of a Porsche 911). The coup was successful as Porsche’s competition – notably Ferrari – was taken by surprise and was truly shocked as nobody had expected Porsche to make this risky move. Ferrari’s answer was to be the 512S/M unsuccessfully racing against the 917 from 1970 onwards.

Then, on April 21, 1969 Porsche proudly presented 25 “drivable” 917s lined up like on a Le Mans grid in the courtyard of Werk I in Zuffenhausen ready for the CSI to inspect for homologation which was granted on May 1st 1969. Ferdinand Piëch later admitted that this was one of the most risky projects of his entire career as it stretched Porsche’s finances to the max (investment of an estimated 15-20 mio. Deutsche Mark) and would have caused major damage if not struck disaster in case of failure for the whole company. But, history would prove Mr. Piëch right and since the 917 has become an indispensable part of the Porsche legend and identity.

The Porsche 917 – brainchild of Ferdinand Piëch – was brought to life by engineer and 

“engine maestro” Hans Mezger. The car was built around a very light space frame chassis (42 kg) which was permanently pressurized with gas to detect cracks in the welded structure. Up to this day the 917’s air-cooled engine (Type 912) is regarded as a stroke of genius and remains second to none regarding power and performance in the field of air-cooled engines. Even such legendary personalities as Professor Robert Eberan von Eberhorst – former head of development for Auto Union racing department – pointed out the unique nature of this extraordinary engine and the achievement of its constructor engineer Hans Mezger. The Type 912 engine was Porsche’s first 12-cylinder engine and featured a 180 degree flat-12 cylinder layout, DOHC driven from centrally mounted gears and twin spark plugs fed from two distributors. Taking the power from the centre of the crank significantly reduced torsional stresses on the long 12-cylinder crankshaft and thus largely increased reliability. The massive horizontally mounted fiberglass cooling fan was also driven from centrally mounted gears. The longitudinally mounted gearbox was designed to take a set of four or five gears. The initial batch of 4.5 litre versions produced 520-580hp at 8500 rpm, the turbocharged versions generated up to 1580hp on full boost. To keep the car compact despite the large engine, the driving position was so far forward that the feet of the driver were beyond the front wheel axle.

In addition to achieving maximum power, Porsche wanted to achieve maximum weight reduction. Thus the use of lightweight materials played an important role to further improve the car’s power to weight ratio. Finally the 917 combined an impressive number of innovative materials and exotic alloys including titanium, magnesium, aluminum, Mahle’s Nikasil,… and fiberglass. The tubular frame was made of aluminum and the 1971 Le Mans-winning frame was even made of magnesium. Other details like the ultra-light balsa wood gearshift knob or the use of the chassis tubes as oil piping to the front oil cooler show the dedication and unbelievable efficiency with which the team around Hans Mezger and Ferdinand Piëch created the 917. The final weight of the initial 917 was around 800kg and could even be lowered to 730kg in later versions – a significant advantage compared to Ferrari 512’s weight of over 900kg leaving the latter no real chance of winning against the might of the 917 engine combined with its lower weight.

As a matter of fact, the first 917s as raced in 1969 were extremely difficult to handle and a very dangerous drive – the 917’s power far outpaced its handling. Also, it produced almost unbearable heat in the cockpit. Legend has it that some factory drivers even declined to race the car preferring the 908 instead. Finally, also thanks to the assistance of John Wyer, the aerodynamics were revised and the instability problems solved thus paving the way for the 917’s dominance of endurance racing. The body shape and intimidating looks of the 917 resulted from extensive wind-tunnel and on-track testing leading to two different versions – the 917 Kurzheck (short-tail) and the 917 Langheck (long-tail) – which were later to be completed by an open-top spyder version for the CanAm race series.

For 1970 and 1971, Porsche did not enter its own racing team, but let established and successful teams like John Wyer’s JW Automotive Engineering (JWAE, of Mirages and Ford Mk IV fame), Porsche Salzburg and Martini International Racing campaign the cars while Porsche owned, built and prepared them for each race. This lead to another great legacy of the 917: its iconic race liveries incl. Count Rossi’s famous white-blue-red Martini Racing Team, John Wyer’s blue-orange Gulf Racing, the psychedelic green-purple “Hippie”, the red-white Porsche Salzburg, the blue-yellow P+A Sunoco and of course the curious “Pink Pig” (Sau or Trüffeljäger) design.

Porsche achieved its great goal to win the Le Mans 24h on June 14th 1970 when Hans Herrmann crossed the finish line in the red-white liveried Team Porsche Salzburg 917 short-tail to gain victory together with co-driver Richard Attwood. A moment described by engineer Hans Mezger as one of the most important achievements during his 37 years with Porsche. The victory was to be repeated in the following year by Gijs van Lennep and Helmut Marko in the Martini Racing-liveried 917K short-tail. Ironically although the long-tail version was said to handle better, the short-tail versions won both Le Mans titles and proved to be more reliable.

For the 1972 season the CSI decided to breach the 917’s undisputed rule of sports car racing by once again changing the regulations. Thus Porsche decided to put more attention on its competition in the American CanAm series. First a 16-cylinder (7.0l, 755hp) version of the engine was developed, but not deemed powerful enough compared with a supercharged version of the 12-cylinder engine which was subsequently equipped with twin Eberspacher turbo chargers which together with other modifications (incl. a blow-off valve) boosted its power to over 1.100hp (from an initial 520hp). Subsequently the 917 ruled CanAm in 1972 and 73 winning every single race of the 1973 season. As a side note Piëch would later introduce a 16-cylinder engine in the Bugatti Veyron.

The 917 is a motor sport legend and regarded as the ultimate racing car of the 20th century. It won all the important races of its time in Europe and America. The 917 won Le Mans and the World Sports Car Championship twice (1970 and 1971, Porsche’s first overall Le Mans victories), the Interserie Championship from 1970 to 1973 and the CanAm Championship in 1972 and 1973 (winning every single race in the 1973 season). In 1975 a Porsche 917/30 set a closed circuit speed record of 355,9 km/h at Talladega Speedway (Alabama/USA), with a top speed of over 413 km/h.

The 917 was driven by the most skilled and most fierce pilots of its days incl. Hans Herrmann, Richard Attwood, Helmut Marko, Gijs van Lennep, Jo Siffert, Vic Elford, Brian Redman, Jackie Oliver, Derek Bell, Mark Donohue, Pedro Rodriguez, David Piper, Gerard Larrousse, Kurt Ahrens, Jürgen Barth,… to name but a few.

One of the most popular movies among motorsport enthusiasts is “Le Mans” which adds to the 917’s status as it recounts a fictitious 1970 Le Mans competition focusing on the rivalry between the Ferrari 512S and the Porsche 917K. There is original footage of the 1970 Le Mans race used in the movie. The lead character is Michael Delaney played by Steve McQueen (who also financed and produced the movie) in a John Wyer Gulf-liveried Porsche 917. A team of legends…

The importance of the 917 and its two victories at Le Mans cannot be overestimated as these beautiful and powerful racing cars planted the seeds for Porsche’s positive image of successful performance, technical excellence and enduring beauty that attracts more and more people to the brand and motivates them to become part of the legacy by owning a Porsche sports car.

Even today, whenever and wherever one of the rare 917s is displayed or even raced at a classic car event – it draws the attention of the crowd and fascinates drivers and spectators alike.

Some technical details of the 1971 “Porsche 917-5.0 Magnesium Kurzheck-Coupé” (917 short-tail coupe with magnesium space frame 5.0 litre capacity): Air-cooled 180-degree Vee 12-cylinder engine with central power take-off, capacity: 4.907cc, max. power 630hp at 8.300rpm, max. torque 588Nm at 6.400rpm, top speed around 360km/h, weight 830kg, tank capacity 120l, acceleration (data only available for Porsche 917/30): 0-100km/h in 2.1sec., 0-200km/h in 5.6sec., 0-300km/h in 11.3sec; dimensions (length / width / height): 4.140mm / 1.975mm / 920mm. Between 1968 and 1973 Porsche produced a total of 65 units of the 917.

American driver Mark Donohue who played a large part in the development of the CanAm 917/30 together with Roger Penske:

“At this time, there is nothing in the world any quicker, any better handling, any more advanced technically and any more fun to drive.

It is to me the perfect racing car.”

For more information on the Porsche 917, we recommend Walter Näher’s very detailed book “Porsche 917 Archiv und Werkverzeichnis 1968-1975”, Delius Klasing, 2009.

 

SCALFARO – MECHANICAL SWISS WATCHES FOR ENTHUSIASTS:

Brothers Alexander and Dominik Kuhnle founded the watch brand SCALFARO in 2001. Their uncompromising focus on quality, individuality and precision, combined with their creativity and dedication have shaped “SCALFARO” into a strong brand with a unique character. Its remarkable and authentic designs have assisted to establish “SCALFARO” as one of the rare family-owned manufacturers of fine mechanical timepieces. In its Swiss Ateliers the company manufactures mechanical masterpieces by combining traditional artisan techniques, innovative materials and the latest modern-day technology. SCALFARO’s extraordinary design language and powerful shapes are complemented by flawless workmanship, keen attention to detail and the use of the finest materials. A SCALFARO timepiece always forms a harmonious unit radiating with clear lines, sporty elegance, refined functionality and impressive solidity. Furthermore, SCALFARO is a specialist in the field of exclusive high-end editions due to proprietary innovations such as its SCALFARO Ceramic Intarsia Technology.

“IN NATURE, NOTHING IS CREATED, NOTHING IS DESTROYED, EVERYTHING IS TRANSFORMED”

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, 18th Century

At Scalfaro we transform genuine material of iconic objects into technical masterpieces that carry emotions, bring pleasure to people and tell intriguing stories. By skillfully blending history with technological modernity we preserve the legends and achievements of the past and proudly carry their fascination into our modern age.

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KEYWORDS:

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DISCLAIMER:

SCALFARO WATCHES IS NOT IN ANY WAY AFFILIATED WITH “DR. ING. H.C. F. PORSCHE AG” OR “AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE L’OUEST (A.C.O.)”. THE REFERENCES TO “PORSCHE“, “917” AND “LE MANS” ARE USED FOR HISTORIC REFERENCE PURPOSES ONLY. EACH EDITION TIMEPIECE IS MANUFACTURED IN AN ARTISANAL PROCESS AND REPRESENTS A UNIQUE PIECE OF ART.