1970 is a special year for Porsche, because that was the year the car manufacturer from Zuffenhausen achieved its first victory in the 24-hour race in Le Mans. Today, in 2023, another 18 victories have been added, bringing Porsche to a total of 19 victories in the long-distance classic. In this blog post we want to take a closer look at the victories from 1970 and 1971 and dare to look back at the time when Steve McQueen was producing his film "Le Mans". The models belonging to these stories in the scales 1:18 and 1:43 are linked below, come from the manufacturers CMR and Ixo and are of course available in our shop.
The year 1970 can be described as a great showdown for that time. After the 1960s began under the sign of Ferrari and were then handed over to Ford for a four-year sole reign, Porsche also got involved in Le Mans up from 1970. As early as 1969, Hans Herrmann in the Porsche 908 lost the race to Jackie Ickx in the Ford GT40 by just one second after various lead changes. To date, the narrowest gap at Le Mans between the winning car and the second-placed.
On June 13th, 1970, seven Porsche 917s and eleven Ferrari 512s had started. From Porsche's point of view, the three vehicles entered by John Wyer's works team were chosen. However, these all failed. One of these vehicles was often shown in Steve McQueen's film "Le Mans". It is the Porsche 917K in Gulf design with starting number 20, driven by Jo Siffert and Brian Redman. After 10 hours of racing, this vehicle was clearly in the lead. But when the fourth gear jumped out and caused the engine to overrev, the later winning vehicle was able to take the lead. This refers to the Porsche 917K with starting number 23 from Louise Piech's customer team. The daughter of Ferdinand Piech and head of the Salzburg Porsche Holding used two vehicles. One of these vehicles was piloted by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood. After various failures of the competition, the driver duo wins unchallenged in the end. After the race, Hans Herrmann made good on a promise he made to his wife that said, "If I win, I'll quit" and ended his long and successful career with victory in 1970.
In 1971, the Porsche 917, which had been superior the year before, were then more on the radar in Le Mans. In total, Porsche is launching seven 917s. A test vehicle is also at the start. A white 917 in Martini Racing design with starting number 22. Even the drivers Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep don't know that their 917 is the only one equipped with a magnesium frame and perforated brake discs. Because Piech does not believe that the vehicle will play a role in the race either, he uses the assignment to let the youngest racing mechanics work on the car. In the end, it was precisely this Porsche 917 with starting number 22 that won. Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep set a distance record that was only broken in 2010, covering a distance of 5335 kilometers at an average speed of 222.304 kph.