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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hot Wheels Porsche 917-K vs. Ferrari 512M



Nothing is more legendary than these two competitors in the late 1960's and early 1970's Le Mans race duking it out to win the famed race.  Both took to the extremes in the case of power and aerodynamics to get the cutting edge of the competitors to gain the win.  It was a close one, but in the end the Porsche was victorious, and a movie star in the 1971 Steve McQueen movie "Le Mans"  Now here's two examples in small scale.




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With the new FIA rule changes for Group 6 prototypes taking effect Porsche took a different an expensive choice by building 25 all-new race cars instead of building a race car for one or two races then selling it to customers as a used car.  The frame uses a tubular spaceframe design, driver positioned near the center and forward to the point where the driver's front feet was past the front wheels, shifter knob out of Balsa wood, oil circulated through the chassis tubes, and a new engine.  The engine is a 4.5L DOHC air-cooled flat-12 with dual spark plugs and simple gears to power the cam timing and the top-mounted fan from the crankshaft.  The transmission can accept four or five gears and the car has claimed a top speed of 224 mph.  The K in 917-K stood as a symbol for the new shorter rear fenders with a kick-up to redirect air flow to force the rear wheels to the ground, resolving a problem of power loss in early 917's with the longer and smooth rear fenders.  The 917-K would go on to win plenty of races, including the 1970 Le Mans race, and to be a movie star as well as any casting of the 917-K done in the Gulf livers (the deco used in the movie car) is very popular with collectors.  Even though Steve McQueen did most of the racing in the film, most of the driving was done by professional race car drivers to create the real Le Mans experience.







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Hot Wheels is no stranger to the 917 as it has made one during the Redline era in the late 1960 and 1970's, though the one shown here is a totally new casting developed in 2012 for the Hot Ones line.  This Porsche Series version looks good in yellow with racing graphics on the top and sides; note the Porsche company lettering on the sides and just after the engine at the top and the German flags on the sides.  The front has a low-sloping look with lower scoops and headlight lenses that are part of the window trim.  The roof has the central wiper blade with doors that open wide like a gullwing but actually open forward instead of upward.   the sides show off the raised rear fenders of the K models and blacked-out 5-spoke wheels that look rather small at the rear but truth is this is how the real race car looks: the wheels are tucked further in from the body panels at the rear.  The rear has the detailed taillights and dual exhaust to complete the look.


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The interior features the central-right layout for the driver with room for a passenger to the left and typical gauge layout on the dashboard.  The shifter on these race cars are located to the right and not on the left despite the right-hand drive layout. Finally, the chrome engine shows off the flat-12 layout and cooling fan.  Very nicely done for a 917-K!






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Pretty soon Ferrari wanted to get a taste of the Porsche by creating the 512M.  512 was designated for its engine, a 5.0L DOHC V-12 that produced 560 (est.) hp. through a 4 or 5-speed manual.  With the maze of exhaust pipes and a large radiator the 512 need a stronger chassis, so in effect it weighs 100kg. more than the 917.  Ferrari also built the cars themselves without funds provided by sponsors as Porsche did to fund the 917.  While the Ferrari was fast, it was unreliable at first and had a hard time trying to catch up to the successful 917's.  For faster tracks a side panel was added to the rear fenders to enhance aerodynamics, hence the M designation.  After failed attempts and rule changes again, Ferrari abandoned the 512 for the new 312 cars with the smaller 3 liter engines.



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This Hot Wheels casting was introduced in 2006 with the coolest feature: an opening hood that shows off the engine and maze of exhaust pipes in chrome.  The rear hatch also gets functional outlets for the side radiators and rear spoiler, but the hatch can tend to rattle around and on one of my examples show off a different color shade from the rest of the vehicle.  The front has the same low-snout as the 917 with headlights near the lower grille.  The chrome of the base tends to show up more on the lower edge of the beltline, while the interior looks bigger than the 917.  At the back the quad taillights are more closer to the center and the dual exhaust less visible than the 917, but as in the 917 the doors open wide and forward, the driver's seat is closer to the center, the shifter to the right of the driver, and there is room for a passenger on the left.  Thanks to Hot Wheels new cost-reducing standard the 512 has not seen much action lately, but in the end of the last decade it has seen its share of variations.  The blue one with gold FTE wheels was the first release in 2006, which was then followed by red and silver with nice gold 5-spoke wheels in place of the FTE wheels.  The blue one with white Ferrari graphics was part of the 2008 open features series to advertise its opening rear hatch to the engine.

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While the Ferrari has more interesting features, the 917-K looks sleeker, has sharper detailing, and is a champion with unique engineering techniques that helped this car win more races and give Ferrari a run for its money.

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