Makers’ day

Posted on 08. May, 2019 by in Porsche Canada

It was a grey and cold open day during a movement pad of a Weissach investigate and growth centre. However, those benefaction were not uneasy by a conditions as they watched a Porsche 917-001 with astonishment while it finished laps with an impossibly low engine roar. At a wheel: Le Mans leader Marc Lieb. Those examination on: a makers. For instance Hans Mezger, behind afterwards Head of Motorsports and obliged for a project, among other things. Or Hermann Burst, routine planner and obliged for a 25 homologation vehicles that were legalised by FIA on a government automobile park of Plant 1 on 21 Apr 1969. They were assimilated by operative Eugen Kolb, physique builder Klaus Ziegler, laminate consultant Roland Bemsel, exam motorist Günter Steckkönig and Gerhard Küchle, an engine construction mechanic. And of march Kurt Ahrens – afterwards a works motorist though a works contract. A genuine “917 tamer”.


Hans Mezger, Gerhard Küchle, Roland Bemsel, Klaus Ziegler, Günter Steckkönig, Hermann Burst, Eugen Kolb, l-r, 2019, Porsche AG

Hans Mezger, Gerhard Küchle, Roland Bemsel, Klaus Ziegler, Günter Steckkönig, Hermann Burst and Eugen Kolb (l-r)

The 917 plan was kept tip for a prolonged time – behind in a day it was famous as a 912. That was not convene an improper nomination as this was a tangible plan name of a new V12 engine. The 917’s specifications from 1968 were brief and concise: a racing automobile had to be quick and lightweight to finally be means to explain a altogether feat during Le Mans. Consequently, a group grown a tubular space support weighing a small 45 kilograms. Eugen Kolb done a fibre-glass physique over a tubular structure that was constructed by Waggonfabrik Rastatt. “Developing a physique of a 917 was an innovative charge that was new and so appealing to any pattern engineer,” he says looking back. “Initially there was poignant antithesis opposite a cosmetic material, something that already started with a 904. And afterwards a private automobile with a cosmetic physique burnt out since of a inadequate fuel pump. As a result, some reported behind to Ferry Porsche observant a element was no good. However, he still opted for CFRP.” The physique alone increasing a vehicle’s acerbity by 50 percent.

Klaus Ziegler, who had not been operative in Porsche’s physique construction exam dialect for unequivocally long, was unequivocally supportive to a atmosphere during a time. “The 917 noted a genuine jump forward. Not usually in terms of banishment and speed. All a technology, Piëch was peaceful to listen to any suggestion. We went for pennyless on everything. Today you’d contend that a 917 was a record pioneer.” For instance a engine cover: “Plexiglass was not durable enough,“ he remembers. “A cosmetic cover deforms as a outcome of a excessively high temperatures a prohibited engine generates.” For this reason, developers opted for Plexidur, a plain thermoplastic.


Klaus Ziegler, Roland Bemsel, Gerhard Küchle, l-r, 2019, Porsche AG

Makers: Klaus Ziegler, Roland Bemsel and Gerhard Küchle (l-r)

Plastic physique builder and laminate consultant Roland Bemsel can still remember a problems they had with a windscreens. “Drivers were struggling with reflections. All windscreens were different, as they were done by hand. But during slightest they upheld a vehicle’s stability.” However, a categorical problem was: “Will a physique stay on a tubular frame? Is all secure? We were covering a lot of new domain behind then.”

The biggest attention, however, was clinging to a 4.5-litre V12 engine. Hans Mezger, Head of Motorsports during a time, was obliged for a altogether growth of a 917 and was a operative for a twelve-cylinder unit, that grown a formerly improbable outlay energy of 580 PS. He can remember that his dialect was already operative prosaic out, even though a 917 project. “We though overcame this plea – with copiousness of coherence and creativity. Technically 50 prototypes were compulsory for homologation in a five-litre category,” he says, jolt his conduct in disbelief. “But conjunction Ferrari nor ourselves would have managed that. And so a requirement was brought down to usually 25 units.” Consequently, his dialect started pattern work in Jun 1968 – though carrying been given a central go-ahead. The biggest emanate for Mezger and his group was a miss of time. The engine had to be designed from blemish “and we were not means to adopt many components from other units.” It was already early Dec when a initial engine was regulating on a exam bench.

Gerhard Küchle was as a automechanic in Mezger’s engine construction team, operative on a Porsche 908’s eight-cylinder in parallel. He and dual to 3 some-more colleagues built all 25 917 engines for a homologation forms by hand: “It was a vital accomplishment, done probable usually by giving it a all – and afterwards some. But we also felt like a elite. It was honestly a good feeling.” At slightest when sufficient tools were available: “We took a breaks whenever we had to wait for supplies.” Meanwhile, a makers grown furious prolongation methods: for instance, a injection pipes were shaped with feverishness generated by a hair dryer.


917-001, Weissach, 2019, Porsche AG

Hermann Burst was obliged for routine formulation and homologation – and so for a construction and functionality of a initial 25 917 models. The technical worker and aerodynamics dilettante can remember these stressful times well: “The entirely fabricated automobile was taken to a breeze hovel of a Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, as Porsche could not nonetheless yield such comforts behind then. There it was ensured that a woollen threads were unequivocally tighten to a body.“ In fact, everybody focussed on a drag coefficient. “No-one beheld a fact that a lift values were critical.”

When FIA arrived for homologation on 21 Apr we had ideally lined adult 25 prototypes regulating a rope. “It was dictated to stir inspectors and it worked,” says Burst, who still remembers this with pleasure. “All vehicles were prepared for driving,” he remembers – though what he unequivocally means is “ready to roll”. “The FIA examiner chose array 12 and we poured some petrol into a intake funnels.” Number 12 indeed started and done it to a plant’s gates and behind all by itself. FIA was happy, Burst was happy, Porsche was happy: “By ideal coincidence, a examiner had selected a automobile that had all a cessation springs,” Burst admits, “because some of a vehicles were mounted on H2O pipes as we didn’t have adequate springs.”


Hermann Burst, 2019, Porsche AG

Hermann Burst was obliged for a construction of a initial 25 917 models

The 917 had to be tested as quick and as many as probable before it was used underneath genuine conditions for a initial time. Burst can accurately remember those 258 laps on a movement pad, clockwise and anti-clockwise, to exam a continuance of a circle bearings. Engineer and exam motorist Günter Steckkönig was gay any time he was called to a motorsports dialect for exam drives. Even when he had to take a 917 KH onto a quivering exam track: “That was unequivocally tough. The 1,000 kilometre continuation run with 3 to 4 drivers was also an bland thing for us.” His many famous caller in a 917 Weissach racing cab was star conductor Herbert von Karajan – “and afterwards we substituted seats.” No problem: a musician was a quick and also a good driver. Steckkönig was also during a circle of a 917 for races: “It rained a lot during a use sessions during Silverstone. All a H2O poured into a automobile – a automobile was totally open during a bottom in a front. we felt like in a bathtub.” That didn’t stop him from finishing a competition in sixth place.

Kurt Ahrens was one of a many critical 917 exam and racing drivers. He will never forget a startle impulse when he was contrast a automobile on VW’s 24-kilometre high-speed lane around 3 weeks before to Le Mans in 1969 when he crashed into a barriers since a automobile skidded over a pool of H2O on slicks. The pile-up separator equipment separate a racing automobile into dual tools and Ahrens skidded for another 200 metres though a roof over his conduct and no front territory while being strapped into his seat. Nevertheless, Ahrens started in Le Mans in a 917 prolonged tail in 1969 and 1970 – why? “Because it was a Porsche,” he says with a grin. In 1969, he and Jo Siffert even won a 1,000 kilometre competition during Zeltweg. It was a 917’s unequivocally initial win. However, a 800-kilogram Porsche was not easy to handle: “The behind of a automobile was intensely jumpy during 350 km/h and even carried off if we braked too hard. At 380 km/h we was forced to step off a accelerator a little.”


Kurt Ahrens, Marc Lieb, 917-001, Weissach, 2019, Porsche AG

Kurt Ahrens (l.) was one of a many critical 917 exam and racing drivers

Legend has it that a wives of a married racing drivers tearfully begged their husbands not to get behind a circle before a competition during Spa. Ahrens recalls: “But a sound was a best part. You could hear all of a work that had left into a engine.” By a way, a 917 was strictly accessible to squeeze – a cost tag: 140,000 marks. This enclosed a removable prolonged tail to renovate a automobile into a brief tail vehicle, though also a fact that any engine compulsory a tip adult of 4 litres of oil for any army during a Le Mans race. And a smirch that utterly a few empty tools left into skinny atmosphere – they usually came off as a outcome of a vibrations.

In 2014 Porsche built a pattern investigate that, until then, usually a few name managers knew about and was never shown to a public: a 917 Living Legends. However, 50 years of a Porsche 917 was reason adequate to also benefaction this new interpretation to a heroes from behind in a day. Like a archetype, a judgment automobile facilities a brief wheelbase, glorious aerodynamics, a wedge-shaped physique and low nose. The monocoque is done of CFRP, a framework and cessation blueprint is identical to that of a Porsche 918 featuring deflected, plane springs. The makers designed a 750 PS V8 twin turbo engine with PDK delivery as a expostulate unit. The aerodynamics plays with adaptive splitters, adaptive side sills, a folding atmosphere dip above a engine featuring a fan wheel, circle arch movement and a large, tractable double-decker behind spoiler with fluctuating Gurney flaps. Some of a sum done their approach into a array prolongation versions of several on-road vehicles.


Tony Hatter (mid), 917 pattern study, 2019, Porsche AG

Tony Hatter (mid) and a 917 judgment study

Talking about a road: nobody else though Le Mans leader Marc Lieb is some-more suitable to move a easy Porsche 917-001 behind to life on a asphalt. The Le Mans leader took to a circle of a 917 for a initial time in 2002, nonetheless that was a brief tail then. Now he was means to make Number 1 roar, a automobile that has been so ideally easy regulating as many strange materials as probable – if front of a gay vehicle’s makers. They were always concerned when a Number 1 was being remade from brief tail to prolonged tail since they are a usually ones who are still informed with certain technical details, measure and special characteristics and who were means to assistance with facsimile of certain tools and physique shapes. For no other authentic long-tail automobile exists in a universe for comparison.

“I would be penetrating to expostulate a automobile in racing conditions,” Lieb says, “with copiousness of honour – not during full gait and always prepared to behind off.” He drives array 001 around a exam lane with a magnificence of a ideal racing driver: “The automobile is unequivocally manageable to a accelerator and drives like a normal car,” a veteran adds. “Just a brakes are a challenge.”


917-001, Weissach, 2019, Porsche AG

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.