Porsche 917K

Ah, the Porsche 917.  Still regarded as one of the greatest ever endurance racing sporstcars, it was the final development of the line of cars that began with the 904.  With a mid-mounted, air-cooled flat-12 engine, and a fiberglass body you could almost see through, it was very, very fast.  The aerodynamic bodies of the original late 1960s cars were very low-drag, but also very high-lift.  So they went at speeds in excess of 230mph, but they were pretty uncontrollable.  The usual test drivers refused to get in it, so some British and Australian racers did the development instead.  The Brits were too polite, and the Aussies were too hard, to complain about the whole imminent death thing.

Eventually it was discovered that cutting the long tail off and putting a flat plate over the rear bodywork created a much more stable car at speed.  That’s why the cars became the 917K, where K is short for “Kurz Heck” or “short tail.”

Steve McQueen drove one in his Le Mans film.  The car had more lines than he did…  and was a bit cooler.