Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note this vehicle is sold on a Bill of Sale
From the Jerry Seinfeld CollectionPorsche AG, Stuttgart, GermanyAlan Hamilton, Melbourne, Australia (acquired from the above circa 1974)Porsche AG, Stuttgart, Germany (acquired from the above in 1991)David Morse, Campbell, California (acquired from the above in 1994)Matthew C. Drendel and Family, Hickory, North Carolina (acquired from the above in 2001)Jerry Seinfeld (acquired from the above in 2012)
Monterey Historic Races, Monterey, California, August 1998Rennsport Reunion I, Lime Rock, Connecticut, 2001Rennsport Reunion II, Daytona Beach, Florida, 2004PCA 50th Anniversary Parade, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 2004100 Motorcars of Radnor Hunt, Edgemont, Pennsylvania, 2006Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island, Florida, 2006
By 1969, with the 917 program still in its early stages, Porsche had already built a special variant of its 12-cylinder machine for the popular North American Can-Am series. The first Can-Am 917 was the PA, which debuted late in the 1969 season. Essentially a standard 917 with open bodywork, wider wheels, an extra fuel tank, and a slightly revised frame, the largely untested 917 PA showed great promise, finishing 4th in the final 1969 Can-Am point standings.
Late in 1970, Porsche decided to move forward with a purpose-built Can-Am 917. Hans Mezger’s team went to work on a chassis that combined the best aspects of the 917 K and the 908/03, with the added bonus of a twin-turbocharged five-liter power plant. The result was the 917/10.
In 1972, Porsche began an alliance with Roger Penske Racing, a small yet influential team based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. With L&M Cigarettes as the primary sponsor, Penske Racing’s 917/10 dominated the 1972 Can-Am season, winning six of the nine races and the Driver’s Championship with George Follmer.
Developed in collaboration with Penske, the 917/30 of 1973 was, for all intents and purposes, an all-new car when compared to its predecessor. At the heart of the Porsche was an enlarged 5.4-liter flat 12-cylinder engine – turbocharged, of course. Along with the larger capacity engine, the 917/30 featured dramatic, low-drag bodywork. To cope with the increased performance, Porsche extended the wheelbase, provided strengthened lower wishbones and designed special extractor turbines for the wheels to aid in brake cooling.
With upwards of 1,200 hp and weighing just 1,765 lbs., the exceptional powerto- weight ratio made for staggering performance figures: 0-60 in 2.1 seconds; 0-100 in 3.9 seconds; and 0-200 in 13.4 seconds. Given enough open road, the 917/30 was capable of more than 240 mph.
After a shaky start to the 1973 season, Penske driver Mark Donohue won six races in a row, annihilating the competition and capturing the Can-Am Championship. “At this time there is nothing in the world any quicker, any better handling, any more advanced technically, or any more fun to drive. It is, to me, the perfect race car,” Donohue said that year. Following the brilliant season, Donohue announced his retirement from racing and Porsche ended its Can-Am program.
In 1975, Donohue made one final appearance in the 917/30, eclipsing the closed-course speed record held by A.J. Foyt’s Coyote USAC car with a lap of Talledega’s high-banked oval at 221.120 mph. The record stood for almost two decades.
The 917/30 presented here, chassis 004, is one of just six such chassis constructed by Porsche.
Sold new to Australian Porsche racer and importer Alan Hamilton, 004 was built to the same basic specifications as the legendary Penske team cars, but finished with plain white bodywork. Hamilton, who greatly admired the 917/30, displayed the Can-Am Spyder in his Melbourne showroom alongside several significant racing Porsches from his private collection.
While never seriously campaigned during its time in Australia, the 917/30 took part in many local shows and was a major attraction at automotive events such as the historic race preceding the Adelaide Grand Prix.
In the 1980s, Porsche began purchasing independent distributorships, including Alan Hamilton’s Porsche Australia. In 1991, as part of the purchase agreement, Porsche acquired a number of Hamilton’s racing cars, including 917/30-004.
After arriving at the Porsche factory, the 917/30 was refinished in the iconic blue, yellow, and red Sunoco livery made famous by Roger Penske’s 1973 Can-Am cars, and Porsche AG entered the 917/30 in the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix at Nürburgring, driven by former Porsche works driver Günter Steckköing.
In January 1994, noted Porsche collector David Morse of Campbell, California, agreed to purchase 917/30-004 from Porsche AG. Before the Can-Am Spyder was shipped to the US, Porsche rebuilt the engine using the last remaining 5.4-liter case, which had been sourced from Vasek Polak’s extensive holdings of original racing parts. By the end of that year, 917/30-004 had arrived in California, where it was completely disassembled and meticulously restored. Given the rarity and significance of the car, a tremendous effort was made to ensure an accurate, period-correct presentation throughout, while still producing a track-ready machine.
The freshly restored 917/30 made its debut at the 1998 Monterey Historics, where the 50th anniversary of Porsche was celebrated. As would be expected, 917/30-004 took part in the festivities, racing in the Can-Am category. Driven by Porsche’s own Olaf Lang, 917/30-004 won the race, defeating a field of McLarens and Shadows. It was like 1973 all over again.
In 2001, Matthew Drendel of Hickory, North Carolina, purchased 917/30-004 for his visionary collection focused on turbocharged Porsche road and racing cars. To celebrate, he entered the 917/30 in the first Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Lime Rock Park. After Porsche’s own car, chassis 002, experienced some mechanical difficulty, Roger Penske enjoyed some time behind the wheel of 917/30-004, taking the car out for several hot laps.
Under Mr. Drendel’s care, 917/30-004 was shown at many invitational concours events such as Rennsport Reunion II and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, always causing quite a stir on the show field.
Jerry Seinfeld became the owner of this remarkable machine in March 2012, and during his stewardship the Porsche has been looked after by esteemed marque specialist Joe Cavaglieri. Mr. Seinfeld enjoyed the Spyder’s track performance at Willow Springs Raceway during a private event in 2012. But he says he has respected some limits with regard to the car’s performance capabilities.
“What’s very surprising about this car is how comfortable and easy to drive the most powerful race car the world will ever see is,” Mr. Seinfeld says. “I never drove it as fast as it can go.
“The car’s crazy. I’m not.”
In addition to its otherworldly performance, 917/30-004 – which has otherwise been maintained on static display by Mr. Seinfeld – would be a welcome entrant into a wide variety of leading historic events. In recent years, 917/10s and 917/30s have been seen participating in a number of major venues, such as Rennsport Reunion and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. In the hands of its former owners and current custodian, 917/30-004 has been enjoyed as originally intended – on the track. For those interested in campaigning the car in historic events, it should be noted that the sale includes a full set of body molds, available to be shipped to the buyer from Los Angeles at their expense.
Although 917/30-004 never had the opportunity to compete in the Can-Am series, its life in the hands of appreciative caretakers has ensured that this car remains in exceptional condition. Given its distinguished ownership chain, award-winning restoration, authentic specification, and inherent rarity, 917/30-004 is an automobile of immense appeal and presence. It is undoubtedly one of Porsche’s most magnificent creations and among the most iconic racing cars of all time.