The 917 model started his career in 1970 by winning the 24 hours Le Mans race. After 4 years of Ford domination ( ’66 – ’69 ), achieved by the americans with the GT 40 race car, Ferrari was determined to win the 1970 Le Mans race, but there was a little problem with their plan, and the problem even had a name : Porsche 917.
The german manufacturer took the title that year because Ferrari had some technical issues almost at the end of the race. You could call this luck for Porsche but I disagree. Their cars were very well made and had a very high degree of performance.
The Le Mans version of the 917 was powered by a flat 12 cylinders engine developing 620 hp. After winning the Le Mans in 1971 too, Porsche decided to cross the ocean in 1972, and take part at the Can-Am championship ( was called Can-Am because the race track was half in Canada and half in the US ).
Their first attempt in this canadian-american race, with the 917/10, the first evolution of the Le Mans model, brought them the title in ’72, breaking the chain of victories done by McLaren, who eventually left from the championship to concentrate over the Indy 500.
There was one more stage of evolution in the 917 life cycle : 917/30. While the 917/10 was capable of producing 850 hp from its turbocharge flat 12 and it was already the fastest car in the championship, Porsche decided to flex their muscles once again and so the 917/30 was born.
Having to make a choice between a flat 16 engine and a twin-turbocharged 5.4 litres flat 12, the engineers finally decided to use the second variant, because the 16 engine would have made the car longer and thus the maneuverability would be affected a great deal.
Now hold on to your chair. The 917/30 engine was producing a whooping 1100 bhp in race mode and up to 1600 bhp in qualify mode !!! Because the whole car weighted only 816 kg, the power to weight ratio was absolutely insane : in race mode ( 1100 bhp ) the ratio was 1369.68 bhp/tonne and in qualify mode ( 1600 bhp ) the numbers just go through the roof : 1980 bhp/tonne !!!
The performances of this car were and they still are unmatched : 0-62 mph in 1.9 sec, 0-100 mph in 3.9 sec and from 0 to 200 mph in just 10.9 sec. WOW. It won all the races in 1973 and in 1974 participated in only one race because of some regulations made about the fuel consumption.
Mark Donohue, the pilot who raced this incredible car, was asked how is it feel to drive a 1100 bhp monster. The answer wasnt surprising : there are no words that can possibly describe the feeling.
I believe that I convinced you that Bugatti Veyron isnt at all the fastest car ever built. By the way the 917/30 was capable of doing well over 260 mph.