|KIT:||Airfix 1/32 Gulf Porsche 917|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
At the end of the sixties decade, the F.I.A. (The international motorsport sanctioning body) modified the regulations of the Sport category, allowing 5- litre powered vehicles.
Porsche, which until that moment had been competing with it´s 904, 907 and 908 models in the lower powered classes, decided to design and build a new prototype that would make the most of the new regulations. It would be called 917.
The house of Stuttgart would enter the 1969 season with its 908 racers, and it was not until the 6th race, that the 917 made its debut.
From the very beginning, two characteristics that would prevail for the life of the type: astounding power, acceleration and speed, and considerable difficulties in driving. This was not a car for the neophyte racer!
In its first race, it was not driven by Porsche's 'star' racers, in the off chance that the design would be a failure. Instead, the top drivers stuck with the tried and true 908. Good thing as the car was a real hand-ful and more testing was indicated. But, as the past, Porsche engineers would perform exhaustive tests, and multiple modifications to the suspension and chassis, achieving to transform the untamed beast into something more driveable.
It officially participated during three seasons (1969-70 and 71) in 21 competitions, winning in 14 of them, and being the runner up twice. It won 14 classification tests and obtained various records, emphasizing the average speed and number of laps completed in the 1971 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which still stands to this day, or the impressive maximum speed of 396 km/h achieved by a 917 (night testing, 1971 , 24 Hours of Le Mans, L´Hunnadieres straight- Jackie Oliver)
Towards the end of its competition life, the 917 had evolved in such a way that it had practically annihilated all opposition; it drove well and provided power that easily surpassed the 600 BHP barrier.
In spite of the efforts from Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Matra among other makes, its supremacy was so evident, that the F.I.A. determined with a new change in regulations, that 1971 would be the last year that the 917 would race in the international sports car class.
New this kit is not. It was initially released about 1974, along with several other similar scaled car kits. The grey plastic parts are in good condition with little in the way of sink areas or flash, though some of both are present. Ejector pin marks are a fact of life with these older kits, but thankfully, most will not be visible when the kit is done. I'm not really thrilled with the plastic tires, but at least one doesn't have to worry about them cracking or attacking the plastic.
This is a curbside, but there is some engine/transmission detailing and it is fairly well done. The suspension pieces are also nicely handled, looking properly complex when one is done. Interior is very basic with but a seat, instrument panel, steering wheel, and back panel. A driver figure is included, though without a racing harness. You'll have to devise one on your own for this kit. Transparencies are somewhat thick and a bit distorted, however, with little detail to be seen through the glass, this is acceptable.
Instructions are the standard style of images and part numbers. There are Humbrol color references though no idea of what the colors actually are is provided. The lone car is Gulf Porsche #20 in the rather nice scheme of Gulf Orange and Gulf Blue. The kit provides the black striping for the demarcation line between the colors, but the two main colors are to be painted on. Normally, one would do this before mounting the body, but since the lower bodywork is separate, this can't be done completely. Decals look to be quite usable on this reissued kit from about 2003 or so.
Overall, this looks to make into a nice, though not exactly highly detailed replica of one of Porsche's most successful sports/racers. A car that will look great on the shelf and won't gobble up a lot of valuable space.
This kit bought by me so you could see what its like.
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