RM Sotheby’s announced a 1970 Porsche 917K Coupe raced by JW Automotive Gulf Racing at Le Mans as lead car for the 2021 Monterey classic car auction.
A 1970 Porsche 917K Coupe driven by Mike Hailwood and David Hobbs for JW Automotive Gulf Racing at Le Mans in 1970 is the early lead car announced for the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2021 classic car auction. Although the car featured in much of the original racing footage used in Steve McQueen’s Le Mans movie, this chassis had limited racing success to explain the marque-record presale estimate.
1970 Porsche 917K at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2021
The 1970 Porsche 917K, chassis no. 917 031/026, is the early lead car announced for the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2021 classic car auction. The car comes with a whopping $16,000,000 — $18,500,000 presale estimate, which would set a Porsche marque record if realized.
The Porsche 917, often regarded as ‘The World’s Greatest Sports Car’, boasted a near perfect flat-12 cylinder, air-cooled engine that could propel the car to speeds in excess of 230 mph. The Porsche 917 set a standard for design, engineering and sheer performance that took endurance sports car design to new levels and which proved dominant over three incredible seasons of World Championship racing.
1970 Porsche 917K, chassis no. 917 026
The 1970 Porsche 917K, chassis no. 917 026 contested the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans in the hands of Hailwood and Hobbs, resplendent in full blue and orange Gulf livery, and a car that featured in much of the original racing footage used in Steve McQueen’s Le Mans movie,
Chassis ‘026’ was constructed as one of the three 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans race entries of the JW Automotive Engineering / Gulf Racing team, and was distinctive for having a different version of the Gulf livery, as its entire roof was sprayed orange down to the beltline, in contract to the orange centerline stripe of its sister cars.
Carrying race number ‘22’, its driver pairing was David Hobbs and multiple World Champion motorcycle star, Mike Hailwood. In difficult, wet conditions, the car completed 49 laps, running as high as 3rd overall at one point, but on the 50th lap Hailwood aquaplaned and crashed, retiring the car for the duration of the race.
1970 Porsche 917K, chassis no. 917 031
Following Le Mans, the chassis was repaired by the factory and subsequently re-numbered ‘031’, being rebodied as a Porsche 917 Spyder with lightweight open bodywork intended to contest the 1972 European InterSerie Championship, for Group 7 sports racing cars.
In this form the car contested the 1971-1972 European race series by privateer Ernst Kraus, making its debut on April 3 that year in the 300 km Goodyear Pokal Rennen at the Nürburgring in Germany. Kraus raced the car extensively throughout 1972 before it was acquired by Georg Loos and his Gelo Racing Team. During the 1973 Inter Serie Championship it continued to perform well against strong competition, achieving several notable results.
Following its retirement from competitive racing in 1974 it joined the prestigious Chandon Collection where it remained until 1988. The 917K was then acquired by noted enthusiast and collector Mike Amalfitano with whom it remained until passing into the current owner’s care.
1970 Porsche 917K, chassis no. 917 031/026
The current gentleman owner acquired the Porsche in Spyder form over a decade ago and has since fully restored the car, returning it to its original and seminal, Gulf-liveried Le Mans coupe specification. The restoration was executed without regard to cost and the results are impressive in every sensory regard, from the stunning design and livery to the unmistakable symphony of the boxer-engined 12 cylinder at full revs. Making a sound unlike any other, the Porsche 917K is ‘on the button’, maintained as if a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans is its next event.
Gord Duff, Global Head of Auctions, “The Gulf Oil Porsche 917K is essentially the holy grail of competition cars. Its inclusion in our upcoming Monterey auction is nothing short of spectacular and we are thrilled to be able to present the 917K to our clients at the auction where they can fully appreciate it in person. It represents the very best of motorsport history and heritage from an era of legendary cars and drivers, it will forever be a movie star in its own right. To me, it is truly a magnificent machine that has no comparison.”
Top Porsche 917 K Results at Auction
The 1970 Porsche 917K, chassis no. 917 031/026 on offer at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2021 comes with a whopping presale estimate of $16,000,000 — $18,500,000.
The current Porsche marque record is for a 1970 Porsche 917K sold for $14,080,000 at the Gooding Pebble Beach 2017 sale. This was also the second-highest price ever paid for a German car, after the 1954 Mercedes Benz W196R Formula 1 racer that achieved near $30 million at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in 2013. The previous Porsche marque record was $10,120,000 paid for the 1983 Le Mans 24 Hours race-winning 1982 Porsche 956 in Rothmans livery at the Gooding Pebble Beach 2015 sale.
Outselling a Le Mans winner, which also finished the race in second place in 1982, requires some special provenance. The record-setting 1970 Porsche 917K, chassis 917-024, was mostly used as a testing vehicle by Porsche and thus has very limited in-period racing history, although it did set fastest time in preparation for the 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans race that a sister car won. Porsche sold this 917K to Jo Siffert, who leased it to Steve McQueen’s Solar Production for use in the making of the Le Mans film.
The Steve McQueen connection greatly added to the value of this Porsche and blue-orange Gulf livery on a 917 never hurts.
Monterey Motoring Week 2021
Most of the traditional Monterey Motoring Week events will return in mid-August 2021 after the cancellations in 2020. Top classic car auctioneers with sales during Monterey Week 2021 include Gooding (Pebble Beach), Bonhams (Quail Lodge), RM Sotheby’s, and Mecum.
Monterey 2021 Auction Announcements:
- Bonhams: Talbot-Lago T26 Décapotable
- Gooding: Ford GT40 Alan Mann Lightweight
- Gooding: American Racing Cars
- Gooding: Porsche 934 & 935
- Gooding: McLaren F1
- Gooding: Italian Coachbuilt Cars
- RM Sotheby’s: Porsche 917K
Monterey 2020 Results
- Bonhams Quail Motorcar Auction Results (Quail Lodge replacement)
- Gooding Geared Online Sale Results (Pebble Beach replacement)
- RM Sotheby’s Shift / Monterey Online-Only Auction