Crubilé Sport Is The French Center For All Things Porsche 917, And More
Photography by CM-Arte and Jeremy Garamond
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of an icon, a winner, a terrifying race car that will forever belong to the greatest hours of racing history: the Porsche 917.
Sebastien Crubilé, the head of Crubilé Sport located near Rambouillet, an hour’s drive from Paris, knows these cars well. All but born in a Porsche, Sebastien’s discreet workshop is dedicated to anything produced by the marque as long as it has at least six cylinders, was born before the 964 (with some rare exceptions), and preferably cars that include a racing pedigree. His clients come from all over the world, and together form a unique if informal club.
He is one of the rare individuals who both had the privilege to regularly drive Porsche 917s among other star cars, but also to race them. Of course, he also is well versed in their maintenance and preparation for such activities. His workshop has a special 917 engine room for instance, where original parts await installation in one of the famous flat-twelve engines that he works on.
Seeing as the 2019 vintage racing season is underway, Sebastien is working on no less than three Porsche 917s for clients at the moment, and as you know, one hardly finds two exactly identical 917s—there have been so many variants built over the relatively short original lifespan of the car, an obsession of speed and lightness and outright power directed under the supervision of Ferdinand Piëch, who had great ambitions for the car in period. Ambitions that were met on an international scale.
The 917 has been tested and raced with many different configurations, from short tail 917K kurzheck models made famous for back to back Le Mans victories, to the long tail 917L langheck versions, to the Pink Pig, all the way to the monstrous 917/30 twin-turbocharged Can-Am machines. The 917 moniker has been powered by different engines connected to a range of gearboxes, and a few even made use of magnesium chassis…
The silver one pictured in this gallery is chassis 030, most famous for its status as a road legal 917. Raced once in 1971 under the Martini Racing Team at the Zeltweg 1000km, the car was then returned to the factory and converted to road use for Count Rossi, who registered the car in Alabama of all places—though now it wears a Texas plate.
Chassis 030 was also famous for being a test mule for an ABS System, and after its brief racing career it was treated to a full leather interior, and has stayed in the Count’s family until recently. Never restored, the car will star in the Chantilly Arts & Elegance concours lawn in a few weeks on June 30th, and more importantly will be driven a week later by Sebastien Crubilé at the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb—the first time the car will be driven publicly in a decade.
The long-tail pictured above is 917-045, one of the three that was developed for the 1971 Le Mans. Driven by Jo Siffert and Derek Bell with a Gulf livery (though it now wears the Martini livery of Gerard Larrousse and Vic Elford), the car qualified in third position, but like the other 917Ls, did not finish the race. The car was then offered by Porsche to the Le Mans museum with the same Martini livery as chassis 042 (as Martini was the official Porsche sponsor) and it is maintained exclusively for the museum by Crubilé Sport. It is also the only 917L still driven today, and was one of the stars of the last Sports & Collection charity events earlier this month.
The third 917, the yellow one below, is also quite famous seeing as it was raced at Le Mans over a decade after the first 917 made an appearance in the 24-hour race. It competed in 1981, six years after the factory 917s were retired from competition. The Kremer brothers had enough parts to build one of their own though, and that resulted in this car, known as 917 K/81, which did not finish Le Mans that year. It raced later on in the season at Brands Hatch where it led the race before withdrawing.
Among all the other race cars in the photos that Sebastien either maintains or races at the moment, you will also notice the very first turbocharged Porsche race car, the 1974 Porsche Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo that was previously featured on Petrolicious.
Another unique car stands out, the Ateliers Diva 911 Targa, which has a neat story behind it. When Sebastien and one of his clients finished the Le Mans Classic one year, both were frustrated by what was on offer to drive back to Paris compared to what they’d experience at the event itself.
They dreamt of a car that would offer similar emotions and shots of adrenaline while being able to tackle the city’s traffic jams. The car would also adopt classic lines and a superb interior, a testimony to French craftsmanship and refinement.
After a high-tech workshop was built next to his existing one, and with thousands of miles accomplished in a 964 mule, the first Ateliers Diva 911 Targa was born in 2018. Featuring a full carbon body that hides a 4.2L 400hp engine and a tailor-made interior, the car has been an immediate hit among Sebastien’s clients, and no less than three coupe versions are being assembled at the moment and more is on the table for the next clients: 4.0L or 4.2L engines, rear- or all-wheel drive, targa or coupe, and of course many more details to spec.
The company motto, compromise is not an option, sums it up. The car shown here, as well as a prototype coupe, will also be on display at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance concours, just in case attendees need a diversion from the 917.