Sweet 16

DURING SEPTEMBER’S UCR Porsche Germany trip, we spent an enjoyable day at the Porsche Experience Center at Hockenheimring and we were offered track and off-road driving experiences. As well, there were many vehicles on display from the Porsche Museum. One such car was a 917 with a 16-cylinder engine.

The 917 was conceived for the Can-Am series (a series basically with unrestricted rules) and based on the 12-cylinder engine of the 917. Parts were made for 10 engines although only four engines were assembled. The engine sizes ranged from 6.0 to 7.2 litres and projected outputs of 770 to 880 brake horsepower. Both the 12- and 16-cylinder engines used the same cylinders, pistons, valves, rods, and bearings. The 16-cylinder, however, sloped the inlet ports and ran tubes outward. The fuel-injection pumps could then be situated between the V of the engine.

The car was tested by Mark Donohue, who was fully involved with the Penske and Porsche campaigns in the Can-Am series of 1972 and 1973. That 917 generated a huge amount of horsepower for its 12-cylinder twin-turbocharged motor, reputedly over 1,200 horsepower. Donohue, after testing the car in 1971, facetiously one would assume, stated, “…it was a real monster. The motor was so long you could hear one end start up before the other.”

He also commented it could be an alternative to the 12 and, if turbocharged, the car could generate in excess of 2,000 horsepower. The car did seem to be an ungainly beast, as the driver was situated far forward due to the length of the engine. It is too bad that this wasn’t the car entered in the Can-Am series. I really would have loved to hear that motor run. Porsche does Sound Nights at the museum, and I wonder if this car was ever included. That would (almost) make another trip to Germany worthwhile. </>

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