917 Exhibition - The first victory for Porsche at Le Mans

917 Exhibition - The first victory for Porsche at Le Mans

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Porsche’s first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nineteen years after its maiden outing in 1951 with the 356 driven by Edmond Mouche and Auguste Veillet, the German manufacturer achieved ultimate success with the 917, the star of this exhibition.

Before the start of the 38th running of the race, Porsche had 28 class wins to its name. It was not until 1968 that the constructor came up with a candidate for overall victory, in the shape of the 3-litre 908 prototype, which came second in 1969. That same year saw the 917’s first start at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It didn’t last the course, but took pole position, broke the record for the fastest lap in the race and led the field until the Sunday morning.

In 1970, after an overhaul, notably of the aerodynamics, the fully-fledged 917 was a match for the new Ferrari 512 S.

In true Le Mans style, the two cars went head-tohead in an epic race, with torrential rain proving an extra opponent. Several 917s fell foul of the adverse conditions. Only two of the initial seven reached the finish... but in first and second place. Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann’s #23 crossed the line ahead of Gérard Larrousse and Willi Kauhsen’s #3. Five of only seven classified cars were Porsches, adding another four class wins to the already long list.

The '917, made for Le Mans' exhibition tells the story of one of the greatest machines ever built to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Authentic 917s can be admired in an outstanding setting at the Museum until 10 January 2021.