The first Can-Am prototype 917/10-001 was completed in 1970 and immediately started development and testing: from the wind tunnel to the Weissach test track, where it endured 23 days’ consecutive pounding. Flat-12 engines both normally-aspirated and turbocharged were fitted, and five different bodies were tried. In the hands of drivers such as Jo Siffert, Mark Donohue and factory chief test pilot Herrman Mimler, 917/10-001 was tested for 16 months at Hockenheim and the Nürburgring.
While all this effort didn’t lead to immediate success – in normally-aspirated, 5.0-litre, 630bhp form the Can-Am 917 couldn’t stop McLaren winning the title in 1971 – it certainly came good in turbocharged 800bhp form a year later, winning that year’s drivers’ championship and setting the scene for the total domination to come.
One of its last outings before being put into storage by its then owner Willi Kauhsen in 1974 was in the Nürburgring 300km where Emerson Fittipaldi qualified it on pole. The car remained in storage until 1997 when it was restored to original 1971 “shovel nose” spec ahead of appearing at many historic race events, including Goodwood.