At a time when we are presented every day with supercars covered with gold vinyl or Louis Vuitton logos or other similar works of art, which remind us that wealth is not always accompanied by good taste, it is good to remember good examples from other times.
Examples such as pairing a racing model for road use, more precisely one of the most famous and important ever: the Porsche 917 K.
That’s what Count Rossi di Montelera, heir to the Martini&Rossi fortune, did. Convincing a car manufacturer to accept such a request is something you cannot do unless you have a lot of money or a lot of influence. Fortunately, Count Rossi had both, and after visiting Porsche in Stuttgart in 1974, a new life begins for the Porsche 917K with chassis 917.030.
Built in January 1971, Porsche 917.030 was used for Porsche’s first tests with an ABS system and competed only once, qualifying at the 1000 Kilometer Zeltweg in 1971 before a suspension failure put it off. Amazing fact, in this race this chassis ran in the colors of Martini Racing.
Then the prototype was returned to Stuttgart, where the tests of the ABS system continued and later it was put in storage, where it remained until the Count’s request for conversion in 1974. The process was not difficult for Porsche, which limited itself to painting the body, removing other attachments of aerodynamic and install sound controls on the exhaust system.
In fact, registering it for road use was a big challenge. The Count’s efforts in Europe were rejected – he had no chance of getting the 917 through the strict German regulations, and in France he would have to do crash tests before negotiating, which was obviously impossible.
The solution came from an unexpected place. The US state of Alabama agreed to submit 917,030 under the strict condition that the vehicle had never been driven in the state. A strange arrangement, but it worked.
In April 1975, with the new Alabama registration, Count Rossi started a journey from Stuttgart to Paris, the first of many journeys across Europe for the old racing model.
Count Rossi’s 917K allowed another Porsche 917 owner a similar conversation. In 2016, Monegasque Claudio Roddaro requested the legalization of his 917,037, on the grounds that it was the same as that of Count Rossi di Montelera.
A simple argument, but a difficult one in the case of this chassis. 917-037 was a spare chassis from the official Porsche team, which was never finished. In the late 1970s, German body builder Baur bought the chassis and kept it for several years. It was sold to an American collector who, at the famous Gunnar Racing in California, rebuilt it to the original standards of the time. At the 2004 Rennsport Reunion in Daytona, the car was seen in public for the first time.
Certifying that it contained at least 95% original components, Porsche awarded it a manufacturer’s plate, making it not only the last Porsche 917 produced but also – as it never competed or had any events – the earliest in the world. However, it took Cláudio Roddaro months to go through all the bureaucratic procedures before getting his registration.
I believe, however, that he does not regret all the work at all!
TAGS: Porsche Porsche 917K