Home » This Home-Built Tribute To The Porsche 917 Was A Decade In The Making

This Home-Built Tribute To The Porsche 917 Was A Decade In The Making

Porsche 917 Tribute Ts
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The Porsche 917 is a striking sports prototype in the grandest tradition. In 1970, the 917K would give the Stuttgart automaker its first ever victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, beginning a journey that would see Porsche dominate the event. Like so many race cars to wear the Gulf livery, it has inspired many to try and recreate the magic for themselves. As unlikely as it sounds, there’s now a gorgeous road-going tribute to this racing legend, and it’s straight outta Norway.

The project, known as the 917CFK, is strictly not a Porsche; it’s a privately-built replica that was put together using Porsche’s own blueprints as a guide. We’re getting a full tour of the car thanks to well-known collector Magnus Walker, who happened across the car during his visit to a Norwegian Porsche show. Right away, it’s obvious this thing is special, by the way it sits with the stance of a true race car. And by that, I mean the fact that the roofline barely comes up to Walker’s waist when he’s standing right next to it.

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“What you have in front of you is what I will call a road-legal recreation,” explains Knut, the man behind the build. That’s meant some compromises to authenticity, mostly in regards to the drivetrain. Norway has a relatively short history with amateur-built vehicles and kit cars, only allowing them to be road legal since new rules came about in 2014. Those regulations specify a restriction on power-to-weight ratios, so the original flat-12 that Porsche developed to deliver four-figure horsepower was out. In its place, the 917CFK gets a twin-turbo Porsche flat six. It was built by Ninemeister in the UK from parts cribbed from a wide variety of past Porsches, and is based on a short-stroked 3.6-liter engine for a final displacement of 3.3 liters. For road use, it’s capable of just over 300 horsepower. Turned up further with more boost pressure and a freer exhaust for track use, and it can deliver over 400 horsepower and around 440 pound-feet of torque. It’s an air-cooled engine with a beautiful fan on top, though it does use water-to-air intercoolers to chill the intake charge.

Okay, so it’s not packing mega horsepower, particularly by today’s standards.  The car has also gained a little weight over its racing forebearers by virtue of changes made for safety reasons, and the addition of a heater and air conditioning. Ultimately, though, it weighs just 2200 pounds. At that Miata-like weight, there’s plenty of fun to be had, even with “only” 300 hp on tap.

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The car relies on the classic Porsche G50 5-speed transaxle, albeit mounted behind the engine to suit the 917’s layout. This caused some minor consternation with the extended shift linkages required to hook it up. Knut notes it necessitated modifications to ease shifting into reverse.

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The motivation for the build was, in part, due to the sheer impossibility of enjoying a 917 any other way. Remaining examples sell for seven or eight figure sums, and aren’t road legal. The 917CFK fixed both those problems for its builder. “It looks the part, and you can take it on the street,” Knut explains. He chose the Gulf livery to match John Wyer’s successful privateer cars which raced during the peak of the 917’s career in the 1970s.

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Amazingly, building a replica 917 wasn’t as impossible a task as you might think. Knut noted he was able to find blueprints and drawings online and via Porsche. Bodywork proved more difficult to source. Owners of the highly-valuable existing cars are at times reluctant to have moulds made to produce new panels. The 917CFK has carbon fiber panels built using moulds from three different cars, which contributed to the front end, doors, and tail end respectively. During the build, Knut learned that by virtue of being a race car, seldom few 917s were built exactly the same. His design mixes and matches, using a narrow front end variant paired with the wider rear end from John Wyer’s Gulf cars.

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The original 917 race cars didn’t get a fancy dash, and that tradition continues here.
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Great front visibility through the front canopy; out the back, not so much.
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Fat meats with a retro tread pattern. What’s not to like?
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It’s not a flat-twelve, but it does an admirable job.

Despite the 917’s status as an endurance racing legend, this gorgeous replica has one thing holding it back from such duties. The original Porsche design featured fuel tanks in the wide cabin sills and could hold over 30 gallons. In contrast, this build uses a single tank placed entirely behind the rear cabin  for safety. It’s a 14.5 gallon tank, so expect to refill pretty regularly if you find yourself in an endurance racing situation.

While it is officially a road car, a few hangups would prevent you from wanting to use it on the daily. The low ride height combined with a nose that barely scrapes over the ground would make navigating even mild speed bumps a hassle. The wide stance may be aggressive and sporting, but it would also make getting through the average KFC drive-thru a near impossibility. Even if you could somehow squeeze it in, the tiny window flaps would make it hard to get all but the slimmest burger combos into the car. You could always try opening the canopy, but that’s a whole other struggle. Anyway, what I’m saying is, if you visit KFC as often as I do, this car might not suit your day-to-day routine.

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Seeing this in the rear view mirror is enough to give ex-Ferrari factory drivers flashbacks to the 1971 Monza 1000km.

It may be a road-legal build, but the racing design shines through. As Walker notes when he gets in to the cockpit, the wheel and the pedal box are offset in a way that you wouldn’t see in a road car. The switchgear is simple and purposeful, too. Knut notes it took just under 10 years to build, and 10,000 hours of his time. His first attempt started in 2013, but things kicked off afresh in 2015 after he tossed his first attempt.

Walker wasn’t able to take the 917CFK too far up the rev counter, as the filming was done on public roads. That’s not to say it can’t sing, though. Knut himself has had the car out on track in his own time, cresting 150 mph at times. Meanwhile, Porsche Norway went further, taking the car out in the snow with a dually set of studded Michelin tires for good measure. It’s amazing to hear that soaring engine note as it gracefully carves up the powder. Why we don’t see more prototypes drifting on ice, I’ll never understand.

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The 917CFK is a testament to one man’s dedication and ability to execute. Sometimes, if you can’t afford the real car you want, you just have to build one yourself. It’s not an easy path to tread, and requires a real long-term commitment, but if you can pull it off, you’ll end up with both an awesome car and an awesome story to tell.

Image credits: Magnus Walker via YouTube screenshot

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Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
2 months ago

Not to knock Magnus Walker’s Porsche chops, but as an interviewer that guy has all the charm of a leg hump from terrier.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

We need a mathematical person here. Two different prototypes, 10,000 hours, moulds searched for and made, many other parts, and toolsneeded and you get a road legal uncomfortable race car only capable of a percentage of the real thing. How much did this cost? How much did the real thing cost? And is it a higher or lower percentage than the copy VS the real thing? I mean it looks great but but I bet the cost is multiple times more than kit car territory.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This project was not about the money.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

I know and they did create a tremendous vehicle. But was it a good source of investment? Just my particular outlook. Not trying to say anyone was wrong or bad. Just a different take. Didn’t mean to offend so sorry.

Fleshharrower
Fleshharrower
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This is about passion and art, math was just a tool to build it. Logic was tossed and I love that someone had the ability to do this without it being an investment.

P Hans
P Hans
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This project was not about investment, value or money but passion and all things related: design, skills, learning something. Dont measure value using money, remember the most valuable things in life are priceless.

A. Ocolotl
A. Ocolotl
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

You’re only going to get half an answer because there’s only half the data.

1: Typical 917 selling prices are “7 to 8 figures”, cite from the article itself. Or from 1 to 10 million moneyunits. Call it 5M, just to make it a nice round number.
2: The guy has spent 10,000 hours. At “insanely expensive hobbyist rates”, something I just made up, we’ll say 50 moneyunits an hour. Or 500k total.

Norwegian laws limit his power/weight ratio, and the goal was to make a street-legal vehicle. 100k moneys for that engine is ridiculous, considering Ford will sell you three times the horsepower for 22k american moneys.

3: Alibaba is quoting roughly 200 (US moneys) per carbon fibre bicycle frame, each weighing about 2 pounds. It’s a Chinese company working on larger orders, and on the cheap, which I reckon is in the same ballpark as a hobbyist, and ignoring a myriad of other complexities. So $100/pound. Or ~220k for the whole car in terms of raw materials.

Total price is ~900k moneys, a sixth of the price of the real deal, for a car that delivers a third of the performance. The performance/dollar ratio is 2:1, the enjoyment/attainability ratio is roughly infinity:1. Advantage Norway.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Ocolotl

That’s okay this is what I was looking for. A very impressive set of knowledge you have

A. Ocolotl
A. Ocolotl
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Actually, what I am is a wizard at back-of-the-napkin math. I know dangerously little about a dangerously large number of topics. Not enough to be an engineer, but enough to annoy engineers.

Would you like fries with that?

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago

hot dang, gosh darn, that’s good parsh, let me tell ya hwhat

Turd Ferguson
Turd Ferguson
2 months ago

That is very cool. RCR out of Michigan makes a kit. They’re the the company that did a lot of the GT40’s in Ford vs. Ferrari.
https://race-car-replicas.com/rcr-917

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

10,000 hours is Master level in many trades: that’s serious devotion to a vision. And I love the detail that it’s been out in the snow with studded dually tires!
It also makes me appreciate the fact that my local DMV at least isn’t near as strict as many around the world are

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
2 months ago

There is a 917 tribute that a guy has been trying to sell in the states on Craigslist on and off for years, uses a couple of Subaru boxer sizes hooked together for the flat 12. I did a quick search and don’t see it right now, but I don’t remember where it was for sale, so might have missed it.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
2 months ago
Reply to  ProudLuddite

Here is a link to an old story about the build https://bringatrailer.com/2014/08/19/flat-twelve-home-built-subaru-powered-porsche-91710-canam-tribute/ I think it was for sale again a few years ago.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
2 months ago

Wow. This is beyond cool. Looks very well done. You have to admire someone who is able to have the dream, and then complete it.
These are a timeless design and an awe inspiring race vehicle.
A real Holy Grail in the true sense.

And highly recommend the You Tube video linked in the article as well.
The history and footage of the original 917s is a treat. As is the guy who owns this example. It’s a pleasure to see the dedication, engineering, and effort spent to create something this unique.

Last edited 2 months ago by Col Lingus
David Escargot
David Escargot
2 months ago

That looks like an absolute ball… btw zinger stacker combo ftw

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago

There was a kit car called the Laser 917 by Elite Enterprises roughly half a century ago.

Also, you might want to see the 1981 film “The Last Chase” for some 917 Can-Am Spyder goodness. Not a good film IMO(although parts of it are eerily prophetic), but the car features prominently.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
2 months ago

These are beautiful cars, and I am glad there are kits. I love the originals, but I love that the kits allow the normal population to see them out on the road instead of inside someone’s private garage.

Alexk98
Alexk98
2 months ago

If there was ever a race car worth dedicating 10,000 man hours to replicating, it certainly should be the 917. And while it may not have a “true and proper” flat 12 racing engine, I argue that a much more off-the-shelf TT Flat 6 and a G50 transaxle just makes sense. Parts exist, support exist, and they’re so much less finicky than racing hardware. It’s a car that can, should and IS driven, in the best livery known to man. The 917CFK is good, very very good.

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