History Porsche 917-021
The car was assembled in 1969 as one of the twentyfive Porsche 917 which were built in order to homologate the 917 as a group 4 racecar.
Wasn't raced during the 1969 season, the car was converted to 917K specs and sold on April 10th, 1970 to Finnish VW and Porsche Dealer Wihuri Yhtymä-Oy (AAW). As most of the customers 917, Cassis 021 had a small rear wheelbase, one fuel tank per side with fillers in front of the doors and the frame used as oil line.
Painted in yellow with red accents, the car had been driven by Gjis van Lennep/ Hans Laine at the 1000 km races at Monza (11th place) and Spa Francorchamps (5th Place). At the Nürburgring the car should be driven by rally driver Pauli Toivonen and Swedish driver Sten Axelsson , but the car was withdrawn after Hans Laine was killed in an accident during practice driving the AAWs second car, a Porsche 908.02.
The next race was at Le Mans. David Piper, usually driving his own Porsche 917K (Chassis 917-010) joined the team, sharing the car with van Lennep. After a 11th place in practice, Piper had a accident in race after a puncture and the car was badly damaged.
The car was sent to the Porsche factory in order to get repaired. Porsche decided to use a spare frame to rebuilt the car. This spare frame - 917-012 - had been stored after the car had an accident during test drives at Daytona in December 1969.
Due to the fact that 917-012 was one of the first cars which was converted to 917K conditions, the car had a characteristic, which made it nearly unique: The front nose of the car had a more rounder shape than all the 917K which were built later, except chassis 917-011, which also had this specific detail. Sadly 917-011 was destroyed in an accident during the Targa Florio testing in 1970, when a mechanic collided with a lorry and after that the chassis had been scrapped
Porsche renumbered the spare-chassis 012 back to 021, in fact the car was given back to AAW as 917-021.
The repair was finished right before the Interserie race at the Norisring in Nürnberg on June 28th, 1970. But there was not enough time to paint the new frontend of the car, so all the replaced body parts where still colored white. Gjis van Lennep finished 2nd, 13 seconds behind winner Jürgen Neuhaus in the 917K (917-007) of the Gesipa-Team.
Wihuri decided to end the race activities for the 1970 season because of two reasons:
1. The costumer's 917 had no chance to beat the factory Porsche of JWA and Porsche Salzburg plus the Ferrari 512S.
2. The fatal accident of Hans Laine.
So the car had been rented by the Martini International Racing Team of Hans-Dieter Decent. The car was repainted in the progressive purple and green "hippie style", similar to the longtail Porsche 917-043 which was driven to a solid 2nd Place in Le Mans b Martini Racing.
Van Lennep stayed with the team but with Frenchman Gérald Larrousse he got a new teammate for the World Championship races. Dutchman van Lennep scored a victory at the Interserie Race in Keimola and a third place at the Interserie Race at Hockenheim.
After that race the car was repainted yellow and red, but still in psycodelic style. In that livery the two factory drivers Jo Siffert and Kurt Ahrens won the non-championship race at Kyalami in November 1970. Then the car was given back to AAW.
AAW decided to let it convert to a 917 PA Spyder in order to start at the Interserie in 1971. So the car was sent to Porsche again. On April 25th, 1971 the car was dismantled and all parts which were designated to be used in the spyder had been checked - engine, gearbox, suspension parts etc. Porsche used a new Spyder Chassis from the sport department which based on an frame which was used by John Wyer during the 1970 saison - probably 917 -015 - to built the new spyder and finally it was tagged as 917-01-021.
Chassis 917-021 stayed with the factory till 1973. Then the bare chassis and bodywork was sold to Manfred Freisinger at Karlsruhe near Stuttgart who run a company which traded Porsche spare parts. In 1976 Achim Grossman, a restaurant owner who drove a Porsche 930 turbo, discovered the 917 parts at Freisinger. After he had inspected the whole stuff together with Porsche's Jürgen Barth, he sold his Turbo, bought the bare chassis for about 20.000 DM, carried them home in his garage and begun to rebuilt it as a street car, even not having an engine or a gearbox.
One year was needed to finish the restoration and to satisfy the German technical control board "TÜV" in order to get the car street legal. The last check of the authority was made at Weissach and after that Grossman was allowed to drive the snow white 600 PS beast on the streets, wearing the license plate "CW-K 917".
Grossman owned the car till 1983, then he sold it to American Don Marsh. Marsh brought the car back to racing specs, but it had still some features which had been assembled by Grossman in order to get the car street legal, for example the direction indicators in the front light housing. And the car still had the front nose with the more rounder shape. After a few the car was repainted in the purple/ green color scheme of 1970.
Marsh sold the car in 2002 to the famous race driver Bobby Rahal, but Rahal owned the car only for about one year. Then he sold it to Juan Barzi, who took it back to Europe, more precisely to Geneva in Switzerland.
Barzi drove historic races and so it was no wonder that 917-021 had heavy signs of usage when Jürgen Barth inspected the car 2007 in Switzerland. But there is no doubt that this car is the real 917-021 of the AAW Racing Team even if the frame was exchanged by the factory in 1970.
So far, so good.
But in 1971 Tony Adamowicz, a noted American driver, was hired by David Piper to drive the 1000 km of Kyalami with an Porsche 917, sharing the Car with Mario Casoni. Adamowicz drove Pipers 917-010 in Monza and Watkins Glen earlier that year and he remembered the first contact with the new 917 in Kyalami in the following way:
"This was not the same chassis I drove at Monza or Watkins Glen. The first race for this car was here at Kyalami. My co-driver, Mario Casoni, was a wine maker from Italy who paid for the ride. He was not up to the task, so I drove most of the FIA allowable time behind the wheel. The new car was put together out of parts bins and had not turned a wheel on a circuit until I got into the car. I'm not certain it even had a chassis number. I had the pleasure of learning a demanding circuit and sorting out the car. I often wonder how I did it. The one thing the car had that was different was a 5.0 liter engine, which I didn't realize at the time. The chassis had to be tweaked with spring/shock, anti-roll bar changes. I'm sure the veteran Piper drivers were looking upon this with some skepticism. They got a surprise when the car did so well."
The car had the wider rear wheelbase and sills similar to the factory cars of JWA or Martini-Racing. Furthermore it had the little Aerofoil originally intended by Wyer in 1970 and - in constrast to the AAW Car - no rearview mirror on the top. And of course it had the regular, more angular front as usually used at the 917K's and a single fuel tank with one fuel filler behind the driver's door.
Adamowicz was leading the race when he'd lost 20 Minutes in the pits because of some repairs which had to be done after a crash with Clay Ragazzonis Ferrari. After all, the mysterious car finished fourth.
After Kyalami Piper repainted the car in his favorite color: A shiny green, much brighter than the usual British Racing Green. A 5.4 liter engine was installed, a engine cover with plump "fins", too and Chris Craft drove the car for Piper/ White Racing in the Interserie, battling the CanAm big-bangers like the McLaren M8 or Porsche 917/10.
In all entry lists the car was stated as "917-021" - but as we have seen before, the real 021 was dismantled and stored by the Porsche factory. It's hard to tell how Piper was able to race the car with this chassis tag, but he did.
It was the car's last racing season, and when Craft shunted it badly at the Norisring, Piper was forced to replace the front end of the car and at that point the rear view mirror was mounted on top, too. In this configuration the car did his last races till the end of 1972.
Then the car was sold to Vic Norman, who advised it for sale at August 16th, 1975 in the „Autoweek" magazine - the advert said "Chassis 020, Original AAW"...
Porsche specialist Gerry Sutterfield examined the car which was painted silver with black stripes - it had a chassis tag out of plastic!
Finally the car was sold in the mid of the 1980s to Peter Kaus, back then the owner of the "Rosso Bianco" collection in Germany. Kaus bought the car as 917-010! And after he had recognized that the original 917-010 was still in the hands of David Piper, he contacted Porsche in order to find out who had the original 917-010 - David Piper or he. But there was no doubt that the Piper 010 was the original, especially since Piper had equipped his 917 with a completely removable front cover after a shunt in 1970 - no other 917 had this feature.
The car was repainted in yellow and red, similar to the original color of the AAW 917-021 at the beginning of 1970, but still wearing the 1971 style engine cover with fins. As Kaus mentioned in a letter to Porsche, the car was restored by Porsche Kremer in cologne. After all the confusion regarding the chassis number the car was repainted in white and tagged as 917-012, one of the chassis numbers from which the orginal car does not longer exist.
But Kaus had to close the Rosso Bianco collection and the car had been sold to another collector and it's said that the chassis tag 012 was removed.
Kevin Jeanette restored the car in 2009 - the car is now stated as 917-021 again.
This could only be right if the damaged frame of 917-021 would have been given to David Piper after the Le Mans crash by the factory or by AAW. But there is no indication for this. Piper himself had said at one point the frame of his own second 917 - a complete reproduction of his own 917-010 - is based on the frame he damaged in Le Mans 1970. But this is not proved.
In summery it can be said that the car owned by Juan Barzi is the real 917-021. The history of the car is fully documented and the special features which make the car so unique have not changed during the last 29 years.
The other 917-021 seems to be more a reproduction of David Piper rather than a original factory car. But only a thorough investigation of the car could eventually help to establish clarity.