Canepa's risky joyride makes for an epic video.
Imagine the scene. You're cruising along in your Honda Civic or Ford F-150 on an ordinary day and stop at the traffic lights. Suddenly, a rare Porsche 917 racer worth more than your house pulls up next to you, its flat-12 engine rumbling away as if all of this is normal. It isn't normal, of course, but to Porsche enthusiast and former race car driver Bruce Canepa, maybe it's not that strange. Following a comprehensive restoration, Canepa decided to take the legendary 917 for a casual jaunt along California streets and filmed it so we could enjoy the ride as well.
This race car looks positively alien on normal roads with its ultra-low body. Alongside a modern SUV, it looks quite vulnerable and dainty as well. This 1969 example is finished in eye-catching orange and blue Gulf livery. Even at the fairly low speed Canepa was driving at, that engine sounds wonderfully raw. This 917K is one of two 917s in Canepa's collection. Last year, Canepa Motorsport said that this 917K, chassis number 017, was "quite possibly the most period-correct 917K in existence." It is also said to be the first 917 to finish a complete race. Just two years ago, Porsche celebrated 50 years of the 917.
The 917 emerged victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 1970, a feat that was repeated the following year. Turbocharged versions with over 1,000 PS (986 horsepower) then went on to dominate in 1972 and 1973 at the North American CanAm Series. Considering that only 12 examples of the 917K were ever produced and that one of these sold for over $14 million a few years ago, Canepa was especially brave to take this special piece of automotive history out onto public roads where, let's face it, anything can happen. That said, we're glad he did and that we got to enjoy this rare sight in 2021.