The Pink Pig

The Pink Pig

Famous for all the wrong reasons “The Pink Pig” could have been a mere footnote in Porsche Le Mans history if it weren’t for the somehow shocking livery and the background story.

Few cars in racing history were as well succeeded and celebrated as the 917. 

It was born in a short period of time to comply with the new 1968 regulation, yet it proved almost unbeatable. Based on the 908 design, but with a lighter frame, a V12 air cooled engine and 580hp, it was seriously fast, but proved to be a handful.

After a terrible first season which included a fatal crash, the 917 had to be rethought. It was John Wyer’s private team who sorted out the handling by redesigning the Porsche’s rear section, especially the tail.

The result was a much more stable car which was way above its rivals on most tracks and won Le Mans in 1970.

But because there’s always room for improvement, Porsche wanted a shape that
could combine the low-drag coefficient of the 917 LH with the stability and downforce of the short-tail 917K. To make it happen, Porsche called upon SERA (Society for the Study of Automotive Achievement), who already had assisted Porsche with aerodynamics for the 917LH.

Porsche then made the same request to their internal styling department, led by Anatole Lapine and Richard Soderberg, but Porsche opted for the SERA proposal,
eventually to get the sympathy of the French scrutineers who have to accept the new shape as a simple evolution...

Called 917/20, this model was much wider than a standard 917K, and had a shorter nose and tail, giving it a “fat” appearance.

Nonetheless, it would be entered as a third car in the Martini Racing Team, driven by Willi Kauhsen and Reinhold Joest. And just like the “psychedelic” 917LH the year before, it would have a different livery created, once again, by Richard Soderberg, and this is where it becomes funny.

Probably as a little revenge by Lapine and Soderberg, the car appeared at Le Mans painted in pink, with the butcher’s diagram over it and a small sticker with the words “The truffle hunter from Zuffenhausen”, leaving no doubt it was meant to look like a pig. The livery caused quite a stir, and the fans loved it, but Count Rossi refused to associate his brand with it.

The 917/20 proved to be no bad car though, and while it crashed when it was in fifth place, Joest confirmed the car was as good as expected and… didn’t handle like a pig at all!