Most people, even those only vaguely interested in motor sport, will have heard about the Porsche 917. The first of Porsche’s race cars to truly dominate the world of sports car racing, the 917 project was in 1969 almost a step too far for the small Stuttgart manufacturer as it stretched the company’s financial resources to the limit.
The origins of the mighty 12-cylinder boxer engine can be traced back to a little known 6-cylinder engine developed in 1968, the Type 916. This experimental engine is based on the production 2.2-litre 911 engine of which only six were produced. It featured twin overhead cams and was one half of the final 4.5-litre engine that powered the 917 into the history books in the 1970s. The brainchild of Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, the 917 was created with one goal in mind, to win the Le Mans 24-Hour race. The FIA regulations at the time allowed for cars of up to 5-litre to compete in Group 4 of the World Championship, subject to a minimum production of 25 units.
Race engineer, Walter Näher, spent two decades at Porsche during the time of the development of the 917 right through to the end of the 956/962 era. Few would argue that these years were Porsche’s most successful years in motor sport, and to have been part of the works participation at Le Mans for 19 years must rank as one of the most enviable jobs in the world.
It is for this reason that the author, Walter Näher, is perhaps one of the best qualified people to pen the history of the 917. His book Porsche 917: Archive and Works Catalogue 1968 – 1975 is one of the most detailed accounts of this famous racing car. Näher’s wealth of experience is reflected in the depth of detail evident throughout this magnificent book. Having been so close to the 917 throughout its different phases of development places Näher in a unique position of not only knowing where to find material that was produced at the time of the car’s build, but also to be able to access it. The research for this book has been based on factory documents alone, making this book on the 917 totally unique.
Containing many rare, and in some cases previously unseen photographs, plans, documents and more, this publication is an absolute must for all enthusiasts of the 917. Having interviewed Walter Näher for my own book, Porsche 917: The Complete Photographic History, I can say without any doubt that he is one of the industry’s gentlemen and an engineer with great understanding. He also is acutely aware of the human skill sets required to succeed in this field. An extraordinary man and extraordinary book, and essential reading for any Porsche enthusiast.
Author: Walter Näher
Title: Porsche 917: Archive and Works Catalogue 1968 – 1975
Publisher: Delius, Klasing & Co
Publish Date: 29-Oct-2014
Country of Publication: Germany
Written by: Glen Smale