Classic Cars

Alabama Is Responsible For The Coolest Porsche Of All

A very rare flat-12 race car intended for use in public.

The Porsche 917 is one of the most important and iconic race cars of all time. It’s responsible for bringing Porsche its first-ever victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Yeah, it's kind of a big deal. However, the company never intended anyone to use the 917 as a road car, but there’s one man who’s doing exactly that in Monaco. Claudio Roddaro converted his 917 into a road-legal machine thanks to an odd quirk of history.

In 1974, Count Rossi, part of the Martini & Rossi company responsible for most of the pretty Porsche race cars of the past, purchased a used 917 and made it road legal with minor modifications—like added mufflers. For some reason, the DMV in Alabama allowed him to register the car for road use, which then aided him in convincing European officials to do the same. Since there wasprecedentfor a road-legal 917, all Roddaro had to do was make identical changes to his car to make it eligible for use on the road. It’s not like the process was straight forward, according to Porsche. Roddaro went through two months of arguing with authorities before all the paperwork was in order.

This 917 was a spare chassis Porsche never actually raced, and its first real expedition on track wasn’t until 2004. The car still packs the infamous 4.9-liter, air-cooled flat-12 that produces around 600 horsepower. The whole package weighs just 1,323 pounds, well under half the weight of a current 911 GT3, which means it packs an utterly absurd 1000 hp/tonne. That's some rarified air.

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