Auto blogMon, 23 Jun 2014 10:15:00 EST
Steve McQueen may have been the headline actor of the motorsport cult classic film Le Mans, but we all know who the real star was. Or rather, what: the Porsche 917. More specifically, it was the Gulf-liveried #22 - not McQueen's #21 - that won the race, making it one of the most iconic cars ever to drive across the silver screen. And now it's going up for auction.
This 1969 Porsche 917K, chassis 917-024, has a storied history both on and off the screen, even if it didn't win any (off-screen) races of note. This example was the first 917 to be campaigned in an actual race when Porsche handed it to Jo Siffert to drive against the Ferrari 312P and Ford GT40 at the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 Km race in 1969. Siffert found the early example too unstable and ultimately drove an earlier 908 to the checkered flag, but after 917-024 set the fastest time at the following year's Le Mans test day, Siffert acquired it outright.
The Swiss racing driver loaned the car to Solar Productions for use in the film, after which it returned to Siffert's collection until he was killed in an F1 exposition race at Brands Hatch in 1971. In a testament to how much he loved the car, it was 917-024 that lead the funeral procession. The car subsequently fell off the radar until it resurfaced in 2001 as one of the greatest barn finds of the new millennium. Now fully restored and resplendent in its original baby blue and orange, 917-024 is headed to the auction block at Pebble Beach where you can be sure that Gooding & Company will bring in a suitably high price for arguably the most iconic example of one of the most iconic Porsches of all time.
It's safe to say that things for Porsche didn't go quite as well at Le Mans this year as it might have hoped. After a sixteen-year gap, the winningest manufacturer in endurance racing history returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe this year hoping maybe not for outright victory in its first time back, but definitely a strong finish on which it could build on for next year. All the while it undoubtedly hoped its 911s would hold their own in the GT classes.
Unfortunately for Porsche, neither happened. After racing around the clock, and despite actually leading the festivities for some time, the best its 919 Hybrid could manage was an eleventh-place finish, lagging lamentably behind not only the other LMP1s (like the race-winning Audi) but also a handful of LMP2s. Meanwhile the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am titles went to the factory-backed teams of its arch-rivals Ferrari and Aston Martin, respectively.
Not a stellar result, in other words, but Porsche is taking it all in stride - accepting that it has a ways to go while congratulating its vanquishing rivals in the video below. It's good sportsmanship if we've ever seen it. Next year's race starts now.
There is a long-running argument among performance car fans: power vs. weight. In one corner you get cars generally with small engines making modest numbers but able to corner like they are telepathic, and in the other there are big thumping mills that are rocketships in a straight line but lumber in the turns. Autocar takes an interesting look this continuum in a recent video pitting a 552-hp Porsche 911 Turbo S against a 185-hp Formula 4 racecar. It hopes to find whether the Porsche's huge power advantage is enough to defeat the better grip and aero offered by the nimble racer.
There's no doubt that the Porsche is an utterly fantastic road car. The 911 Turbo looks mean with all of those intakes to suck in cool air, and it backs up the posture with huge amounts of grip available thanks to its all-wheel drive-system. However, at 3,538 pounds, it's a bit of a porker compared to the 1,135-pound Formula 4 car. The open-wheel car boasts just a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder from Ford and a six-speed sequential-manual gearbox, but it has loads of downforce to make up for it.
It shouldn't be a surprise that the formula car wins in the corners. After all, that's what it's made for. So do you think the massive horsepower superiority of the Porsche is enough to even the playing field? Scroll down to watch the video and find out, and even if you're not curious of the winner the 911 does some mean powerslides.
Consumers continue to struggle with the advanced user interfaces and technologies being fitted to new cars, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Overall, the industry average for problems per 100 vehicles climbed three percent, to 116 issues reported in the first 90 days of ownership.
Vehicles from the General Motors' family were dominant, with Buick, Chevrolet and GMC capturing more individual IQS segment awards than any other manufacturer. Despite its well-publicized issues, six GM vehicles (Buick Encore, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevy Silverado HD, Chevy Suburban, GMC Terrain and GMC Yukon) were given IQS awards for their respective segments.
Hyundai was ranked the best overall mass-market brand, with just 94 issues in every 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days. Parent Hyundai Motor Company, meanwhile, trailed GM with five vehicles winning their segments, including the Hyundai Accent, Elantra and Genesis, as well as the Kia Cadenza and Sportage.
It's hard not to love the look of a classic Porsche. Whether it's the upside-down bathtub styling of the 356 or the gradual evolution of the 911, there is a little beauty in all of them. However, the older they get, the more that needs repaired to keep them on the road. Porsche Classic is helping out, though, by introducing its own brand of motor oil for the demands of the company's vintage, air-cooled engines.
Developed at the Porsche Development Centre in Weissach, Germany, Porsche Classic Motoroil comes in two weights - 20W-50 for the 356, 914 and 911 models up to the 2.7-liter G-Model and 10W-60 for 3.0-liters-and-up engines through the 993-chassis 911. The company claims that the air-cooled engines have different heat demands than traditional, water-cooled units, and this oil is made to meet those requirements.
According to Porsche, modern, synthetic oils are sometimes too effective when it comes to old engines. They are fantastic at sopping up debris, but those deposits are often holding archaic seals together. Suddenly removing them can cause leaks. The new oil is specifically designed to work with the old-fashioned materials found in its classics. The company also knows that most owners aren't driving their vintage cars everyday. So this formulation is more alkaline that normal to neutralize acids that they build up and corrode components.
Commenting on the rush of events that rocked beginning and end of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Paul Truswell of Radio Le Mans said "the race is about the ability to endure, not just the ability of drivers to do what they do for a long time." The entire race machine, all the way down to the pit boards and radios, has to survive the stress and abuse of the entire day. This was the race to prove those words.
There were two Toyotas, two Porsches and three Audis, five of the seven led the race at some point, six of the seven ran in the top three. Toyota will be hugely disappointed that it didn't win when its car and drivers were so, so strong, but they gave Audi the kind of scare we haven't seen since the best of Peugeot's days, and Toyota did a better job of it even in the loss. Porsche blew away everyone's expectations, falling 3.5 hours short of a fairy tale ending that would have made Disney cry.
But Le Mans doesn't really do fairy tales. Well, not that fairy tale. Audi's Twitter handle during the event was #welcomechallenges. As usual, Le Mans answered for the entire field.
As is so often the case, the 2014 Le Mans was a war of attrition, and Audi managed to prevail once again after all 24 hours had been recorded in the history books, with its Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro claiming first and second places, followed by Toyota in third. Drivers Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer inherited the lead in their No. 2 Audi after the No. 7 Toyota, driven by pole-sitter Kazuki Nakajima, was forced to retire with electrical problems in the 15th hour.
The No. 2 Audi led the race until it was forced to the pits to replace a turbocharger in the 17th hour, allowing the No. 1 Audi, driven by Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gene (who was a last-minute replacement for Loic Duval, who crashed hard during practice) and defending champion Tom Kristensen, led the race until the 21st hour, when it too had to pit with turbocharger issues. This gave the No. 20 Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, and Mark Webber the lead until it was forced off the track with gearbox problems, eventually finishing in 38th position.
In LMP2, the Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan driven by Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey claimed victory, the first five LMP2 finishers all powered by Nissan. Down a level in GTE-Pro, No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 driven by Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella finished one lap ahead of the leading Corvette Racing C7.R. And finally, the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE driven by Kristian Poulsen, David HeinemeierHansson and Nicki Thiim won the GTE-Am race two laps ahead of a Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
The 82nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is on.
Audi has won 12 of the last 15 events, the scion of Auto Union is trying to make it 13 this year. To do so, it will have to overcome a situation faced only three other times during its dominance of La Sarthe: underdog status. Toyota has won the first two races of the year and claimed pole for this race, the rumor being that this year it's Toyota's race to lose.
And then there's Porsche. It's been 16 years since the Stuttgart brand raced on the top rung at Le Mans, three years years since it announced its return, just a year since it acquired Mark Webber in a signing that wasn't subtle and a few months since we got eyes on the 919 Hybrid.
Not only does this weekend mark the running of the 82nd 24 Hours of Le Mans, it will also see the return of one of the race's most venerable brands to the top tiers of endurance racing. Porsche will campaign its first top-flight car since the 1998 911 GT1-98, the 919 Hybrid, at this weekend's race, in the hopes of knocking off its corporate rival, the dominant Audi team.
To understand just what a win for the 919 would mean, though, you need to look back on the intrinsic connection between the Circuit de la Sarthe and Porsche. It's a history that spans decades, dating back to the team's first win in 1970.
XCar has a great video on that history. At 25 minutes, it's a bit on the long side. Then again it is the Friday before Le Mans. Take a look below for the video.
There can't really be a loser between the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R and the Porsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition. One might be better than the other, but if you're behind the wheel of either of them, you can't complain. In a new video, Motor Trend takes on the difficult task of determining which one of these European powerhouses is the best, not just in terms of raw performance, but also how they actually feel to drive.
The Porsche 911 is one of the perennial favorites of the motoring world. It just doesn't go away and always seems capable of challenging the top vehicles in its class. In this video, Motor Trend takes a look at the 50th Anniversary Edition model that celebrates that heritage while boosting power somewhat over the standard version.
The F-Type Coupe is an incredibly masculine car, MT describing it as "a British Corvette." The coupe's exterior lines are tautly stretched over its athletic body, and it's supercharged 5.0-liter V8 sounds like a demon's growl. Jaguar seems to have things right with its latest sports car.