You'll also need a degree from MIT.
Owning a race car has to count as the number one dream of any card-carrying gearhead. Imagine cruising down the PCH in a 1970 Porsche 917, the car that gave the German brand its first Le Mans victory and inspired the 918 hypercar. It would be like living in a dream. Bruce Canepa drives his 917 on the street.
Unfortunately, the reality of owning a race car is much closer to a nightmare. Before you even get to the harsh ride, zero sound insulation, and lack of any driver assistance, you have to start the thing.
RM Sotheby's recently uploaded a video showing the process of starting a 1970 917 K. And no, it doesn't have keyless entry. The demonstration is done by the current owner of the car, Paul Lanzante. This particular car was once owned by Steve McQueen and was one of the stars of the 1971 film Le Mans.
On a cold day, you first have to heat the oil via a heating pad underneath the oil tank. Inside the tank, a small blade gives you a visual indication of when the oil is up to starting temperature. It's good to go when the oil gets to around 2 inches below the blade.
Following that, you active one of two master switches. There is an exterior master switch that would have been operated by the mechanic and another interior master switch for the driver. Both need to be activated for the car to work.
Though the 917 has an onboard battery, you need to connect an auxiliary battery to ensure there's enough voltage to get that massive engine to turn over.
From there, things get a little easier. The 917 has a small dashboard housing all the main switches. Push the two fuel pump switches, and activate the ignition switches.
Finally, you can move on to the key. Turn it slightly, and you'll hear the fuel pumps activating. Give one final glance at the warning lights, take it out of gear, and you're good to go. No, just kidding. There's still some more stuff to do.
After all of the above, you remove the body panels over the mid-mounted engine. Take off all the pieces of plastic protecting the engine when it's stationary.
Here's where it gets really tricky. You need one person to turn the key inside while another operates the throttle linkage on the engine. Before the key turner does his job, the second person gives each sparkplug some added motivation by spraying a combustible liquid.
Mercifully, at this point, you can crank it over and enjoy the sound of that flat 12 engine. Unfortunately, the second person has to keep the revs under 2,500 rpm until the oil reaches optimal running temperature.
This particular 917 is chassis number 031/26 finished in the famous Gulf livery. It will be auctioned at Monterey, which takes place between August 13-14. It's one of those cars bound to set some records, much like the late Paul Walker's Supra earlier this year. Unlike the $550,000 pittance paid for the Supra, the 917 is expected to fetch $16 million.
Racing cars are going for a lot these days. The most expensive car sold at auction in 2020 was the 1934 Bugatti Type 59, which went for a stunning $12.681 million.
In case you were wondering, the 917 can get to 124 mph in 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 225 mph. If this starting procedure seems too complicated, might we suggest a Porsche 918 Spyder, which boasts keyless entry and a push-button start?