Real Wheels: 1981 Porsche 917 Kit Car -- A great cruising car

·2 min read

Jul. 9—LIMA — The "butterfly doors" attracted Konnor Link, age 10, to this beauty at the Westgate Charity Car Show on June 27th at Apollo Career Center in Lima. Brad Wirth, of Lima, has owned this 1981 Porsche 917 Kit Car for approximately four months. He is currently trying to custom-build a compact car for himself.

The Porsche 917 was a sports race car that won the 1970 and 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was the most powerful sports car made during its time. Porsche built the lightweight car using titanium, magnesium and alloys. Another way they reduced the weight of the car was by making the gear shift knob out of birch wood. The chassis was lightweight as well. Porsche included the twin-turbo, flat-12 variant engine.

Actor Steve McQueen starred in the movie, Le Mans in 1971. In 2017, the car driven by McQueen in the movie was sold at auction for $14 million dollars, which was a record price for a Porsche.

There are quite a few variants of the 917. The original version featured a removable long tail with active rear wing flaps. That car had handling problems at high speed because of the rear lift. A shorter tail was found to give the car more aerodynamic stability at speed, and changes were immediately made by Porsche. Another version appeared later with a less upswept tail and vertical fins.

Original Porsche 917 cars are too expensive to purchase, and they are mostly reserved for exhibitions and display use. However, the kit car RCR 917 can be purchased and one can build his or her own race car.

Wirth has had the car repainted since he purchased it, as it was originally red.

"This is Lava Orange," said Wirth.

The kit car is built on a Volkswagen chassis and the body is all fiberglass. The engine is a Volkswagen 1600 cc engine.

The car "cruises great," said Wirth.

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