The Monster 16-Cylinder Porsche 917 That Never Raced
The Porsche 917 was one of the most prolific racecars of all time. Its on-track exploits were highlighted by overall 24 Hours of Le Mans wins in 1970 and 1971, but the 917K was immortalized in the 1971 Steve McQueen film Le Mans. But one car that never raced could be the most insane 917 of them all.
Porsche would win at Le Mans in ’70 and ’71, but while the automaker was prepping for France, it also had its eyes set on Can-Am. The Canadian-American Championship had a reputation as an “anything goes” series. Porsche wanted to wring more power out of its venerable flat-12-cylinder engine, and the result is this monster.
There were two approaches to this desired power increase. The first was to add more cylinders– which is the 917 PA (Porsche-Audi) that you see here. Like an operating-room-on-wheels, this 917 PA is completely white, with only small indicators of the brand that intended to campaign it.
The flat-16 made an impressive 880 horsepower, but it was not enough to match Porsche’s other approach– a turbocharged version of the original 12-cylinder engines. The turbo 12 made an insane 1,200 horsepower, and helped Porsche lock up a pair of Can-Am championships.
As for this car? It was a test mule for the 16-cylinder engine. It never competed– heck, the engine never even ran, outside of a few engine tests.