Lilac Langheck – inspired by the Porsche 917L
hover and click on individual sculpture photographs to enlarge
I don’t have much of a DVD Movie collection, but I do have a copy of Steve McQueen’s LeMans. I remember anticipating that movie’s release in the theaters back in 1971. My car buddy Rand and I went to see this flick together, though one of our parents must have driven…….Rand is helping me at the booth in Monterey in a few weeks…..45 years on. You meet the greatest people when you are obsessed with cars.
The Porsche 917 were never meant to be….it was the FAI’s worst nightmere. Post-1967 The FIA thought is was legislating away the fastest big-engined cars in favor of 3 Liter prototypes…….. the “25 made” requirement for the newly defined 5-Liter Sports Cars was intended to make field-fillers of the aging and small-block only Ford GT and Lola T-70.
The FIA didn’t anticipate the strong-willed Porsche’s Ferdinand Piech (yes, the same one behind the 2005 Bugatti Veyron……pronounced pEEsh). He persevered within Porsche to create 25 of the cutting edge 917s which were each FIA legal Sports Car under 5.0L, and each capable of winning LeMans overall.
The above April 1969 photo depicts the initial batch of 25 Porsche 917s ready for FIA inspection. Various subtypes of 917 would be developed over the years, including for Can Am.
Longtail (Langheck) 917s were LeMans specialists, futuristic- looking then and even now. And the aero shape worked — the Longtails at 246 mph were 25 mph faster on the 3 mile Mulsanne straight than the more conventional 917K. Langhecks sat on pole at LeMans in both 1970 and 1971. I’ll bet I can mention the team, nick name or sponsor that ran the car, and you could picture the livery…….Gulf, Martini, Pink Pig, Hippie, Salzburg…
Six 917Ls were built over 1970-71. They only completed at LeMans, and only for those two years. The 1971 design was a significant aero advancement on the 1970. However, none of the three 917Ls entered for the 1971 event finished. In 1970 a 917L finished second to the winning 917K. (That was Porsche’s first overall LeMans victory). The 917L is another example of a car that failed to reach its goal, but succeeded in stealing our automotive-form hearts.
One of my stone suppliers was pitching a stone he called Lilac. At first, it didn’t sound terribly promising for a car color, though, this supplier has never failed me……and something about the possibilities intrigued me. Was it BMW Art Car, or 50s Mercury Lead Sled? Then I remembered the “hippie 917 Longtail”. Why not? I always loved that shape, and wouldn’t that look sleek on someone’s desk? Even non car fans would appreciate this art.
Stone’Eng (Patrick) offered the Magenta Marble from his personal collection for contrasting inlays to the Lilac. At 8 inlays this was quite an ambitious design. The resulting sculpture is fantastic. Patrick’s father’s favorite. Now if I could get the finished work in front of Jerry Seinfeld…….didn’t he just liquidate $22 million from his Porsche collection?
In some ways Lilac Langheck is two sculptures in one. It can rest on its wheels on a display surface, or be elevated on a stand as if a jet fighter plane.