The 1970 Porsche 917K is a legendary race car from a less technically advanced age, so it involves more than just turning the key to get started. This video from RM Sotheby’s shows how it’s done, using a car that will cross the block at the company’s Monterey auction, scheduled for August 13-14.
First, if it’s a cold day, you need to heat the oil to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit, advises current keeper Paul Lanzant. The car has a heating pad under the oil tank, which needs to be plugged into an external power source.
Next, flip the two master switches. One is located next to the car, right in front of the oil tank, the other in the cockpit. The car has an onboard battery, but the Lanzant uses a jump box when starting it. Once this is set up, you must flip a few dashboard switches to turn on the fuel pump and ignition. Only then can you turn the key.
When the 917K’s Flat-12 engine starts cold, it’s important not to exceed 2,500 rpm, which can be done by holding the throttle linkage in place, Lanzant says. The raves should be kept low until the oil temperature rises.
Like most carbureted cars, the 917K has a choke, but Lanzant does not recommend using it for cold start because it can foul the plugs. Instead, he sprays brake fluid under the intake trumpet. Give everyone a spritz to help with the fuel fire, crank the ignition and you’re ready to go.
The 917 was Porsche’s most successful race car, dominating European sports-car racing and the North American Can-Am series in various forms. “K” refers to versions with short rear bodywork, which proved to be more aerodynamically stable than previous long-tail versions. A 917K Porsche won its first overall victory in 1970 at 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The car-chassis 026 also raced at Le Mans in 1970, but crashed into the 50th Cole and failed to complete the race. It also appeared extensively in the 1971 Steve McQueen film “Le Mans”.
Although this is not the only Steve McQueen “Le Mans” 917K. Another car used for filming sold at auction in 2017 for 14 million. We’ll see how much Monterey car costs per week.