1969 Porsche 917K #917-024

Steve McQueen may have been the headline actor of the motorsport cult classic film Le Mans, but we all know who the real star was. Or rather, what: the Porsche 917. More specifically, it was the Gulf-liveried #22 – not McQueen's #21 – that won the race, making it one of the most iconic cars ever to drive across the silver screen. And now it's going up for auction.

This 1969 Porsche 917K, chassis 917-024, has a storied history both on and off the screen, even if it didn't win any (off-screen) races of note. This example was the first 917 to be campaigned in an actual race when Porsche handed it to Jo Siffert to drive against the Ferrari 312P and Ford GT40 at the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 Km race in 1969. Siffert found the early example too unstable and ultimately drove an earlier 908 to the checkered flag, but after 917-024 set the fastest time at the following year's Le Mans test day, Siffert acquired it outright.

The Swiss racing driver loaned the car to Solar Productions for use in the film, after which it returned to Siffert's collection until he was killed in an F1 exposition race at Brands Hatch in 1971. In a testament to how much he loved the car, it was 917-024 that lead the funeral procession. The car subsequently fell off the radar until it resurfaced in 2001 as one of the greatest barn finds of the new millennium. Now fully restored and resplendent in its original baby blue and orange, 917-024 is headed to the auction block at Pebble Beach where you can be sure that Gooding & Company will bring in a suitably high price for arguably the most iconic example of one of the most iconic Porsches of all time.
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A Legendary Motor Sport Icon Set to Cross the Auction Block
1969 Porsche 917-024 from the film Le Mans to headline Gooding & Company's Pebble Beach Auctions

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (June 23, 2014) - Gooding & Company is thrilled to announce the addition of the 1969 Porsche 917K, chassis 917-024 (estimate upon request), featured in the film Le Mans (1971) to its Pebble Beach Auctions on August 16 and 17. The anniversary of the US release of Le Mans (1971) on June 23 in 1971 makes this a truly historic announcement. Set in the golden age of the sport, the film is one of most watched and revered racing motion pictures ever made. Le Mans (1971) features a cast of racing glitterati, including actor Steve McQueen, and a host of extraordinary race cars. 917-024 takes center stage at the height of the action as the Gulf 917 that claims the checkered flag in the film.

David Gooding, President: "917-024 is one of the most significant and recognizable racing cars ever to come to public auction, and we are thrilled to present the legendary Gulf 917 Porsche."

Porsche designed and built the famed 917 model in the late 1960s to claim outright victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Forming the foundation of this car is an incredibly lightweight aluminum space-frame chassis fitted with a streamlined fiberglass body. The Porsche 917 is an undisputed masterpiece of automotive engineering with both overwhelming success on the track and legions of racing fans around the world.

917-024 has the important distinction of being the first 917 model to compete in a race, which occured when it was entered by the Porsche works team at Spa Francorchamps in 1969. 917-024 was later enlisted by the legendary J.W. Automotive Engineering Ltd.-Gulf team at the 1970 Le Mans Test, where it was driven by Brian Redman and Mike Hailwood. Redman set the fastest times, proving that the 917 model was capable of winning. This car is easily recognized by its striking lines and iconic light blue and orange Gulf livery and boasts a magnificent air-cooled flat 12-cylinder engine.

Chassis 024 was then acquired by Porsche factory driver, Jo Siffert, who loaned it to Solar Productions for the film Le Mans (1971), which he and McQueen, along with many other celebrated racing figures, participated in creating. 917-024 remained in Siffert's private ownership until his passing and led his funeral procession, reflecting the importance of this car in his career, before being sold to a private collector.

This 917 remained hidden and unknown for roughly 25 years, before re-emerging as perhaps the greatest 'barn find' ever. Since resurfacing in 2001, 917-024 has benefitted from an exceptional restoration.

Presented today, this is surely one of the most correct, culturally significant and important of the 917s, making it very easily one of the finest racing cars extant. Without question, the presence of 917-024 at auction is a momentous occasion, for the opportunity to acquire a car of this iconic stature is not to be missed.

Additional highlights from Gooding & Company's Pebble Beach Auctions will be available in the coming weeks.