These Are the Most Powerful Porsches Ever Made, Only One Is Street-Legal

Porsche 917/30 12 photos
Photo: Porsche
1972 Porsche 917/101972 Porsche 917/101973 Porsche 917/301973 Porsche 917/302014 Porsche 918 Spyder2014 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach Package2018 Porsche 919 EvoPorsche race cars2018 Porsche 919 Hybrid1978 Porsche 935/78 "Moby Dick"1978 Porsche 935/78 "Moby Dick"
Porsche has created a few impressively powerful production models since the 1980s, but it wasn't famous for overly potent cars in the early days. Like Lotus, Porsche relied on lightness and stiffness to get performance out of cars like the 356 and 911.
But while the 911 was barely hitting 180 horsepower in the late 1960s, Porsche was already rolling out massively powerful race cars. The 917K, for instance, was good for 520 horsepower in 1969, all thanks to a 4.5-liter flat-12. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Porsche 917/10 - 850 horsepower

In a bid to turn the 917 into a dominant force, Porsche increased the flat-12's displacement to 4.9 and 5.0 liters toward 1970. The latter generated 630 horsepower. That was enough to win races in Europe, but the 917K wasn't potent enough to take McLaren and Lola in the Can-Am series.

As a result, Porsche created a more radical spyder version called the 917/10. It still had a flat-12 engine (after Porsche attempted to use a flat-16), but it was turbocharged and generated a whopping 850 horsepower.

1972 Porsche 917/10
Photo: Porsche
Needless to say, Porsche put an end to McLaren's five-year run as Can-Am champions, winning seven out of nine races in 1972. It was also the beginning of the end for Can-Am's golden era, but we'll discuss more about that below.

Porsche 935 "Moby Dick" - 850 horsepower

Introduced in 1976, the 935 went on to become one of the most successful race cars in history. Unlike the 917, the 935 relied on a flat-six mill, but the twin-turbo setup gave it more than 500 horsepower to throw around.

But Porsche took things up a notch in 1978 when it created the third and final version of the 935.

Developed specifically for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 935/78 was notably different than its predecessors due to a highly aerodynamic body kit with an elongated rear end, a streamlined nose, and a massive rear wing. Porsche also enlarged the twin-turbo flat-six to 3.2 liters.

1978 Porsche 935/78 "Moby Dick"
Photo: Porsche
The upgraded mill was capable of up to 850 horsepower depending on setup. Due to its elongated, whale-like shape, the 935/78 was nicknamed "Moby Dick."

Porsche 918 Spyder - 875 horsepower

The only street-legal car on this list, the 918 Spyder was produced from 2013 to 2015 as a flagship supercar and a spiritual successor to the Carrera GT.

It was also Porsche's first hybrid and arrived just in time to go against the McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari, also high-power mild hybrids.

The 918 came with a bespoke V8 engine under the hood. Based on the MR6 mill that previously motivated the RS Spyder race car, the 4.6-liter V8 was good for 599 horsepower on its own.

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
Photo: Porsche
A pair of electric motors generating 282 horsepower increased the 918's total output to 875 horses. As of 2022, the 918 Spyder remains the most powerful road-legal Porsche ever built.

Porsche 919 Hybrid - 900 horsepower

The 918 Spyder wasn't the only hybrid Porsche was working on in 2013. The 919 race car was being prepared for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship; it was Porsche's vehicle of choice for its comeback to endurance racing.

A prototype racer, the 919 Hybrid had nothing in common with the 918 under the hood. Instead of a V8, it featured a rather unusual, 2.0-liter V4. It also had two separate energy recovery systems, one of which utilized a motor-generator mounted on the front axle.

While the V4 sent 500 horsepower to the rear wheels, the electric motor directed 400 horses to the front axle under acceleration. The setup not only turned the 919 into a hybrid but also made it capable of 900 horsepower when needed.

2018 Porsche 919 Hybrid
Photo: Porsche
The 919 helped Porsche win 17 races and 43 podiums from 2014 to 2017, which resulted in three consecutive FIA WEC championships. It also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in the process.

In 2018, Porsche revealed the 919 Evo, an evolution of the 919 Hybrid. With an upgraded V4 and electric motor, it was capable of 1,160 horsepower. The 919 Evo was never raced but only used as a demonstration car at various events. It went into the history books after it lapped the Nurburgring in 5:19.546 minutes, breaking the all-time record set in 1983 by almost a minute.

Porsche 917/30 - 1600 horsepower

For the ultimate Porsche in terms of output, we need to go back to 1973. That's when the Germans raced the ultimate evolution of the 917. Longer, more aerodynamics, and more powerful than the 917/10 that won Can-Am the previous year, the 917/30 hit the series with a 5.4-liter flat-12 rated at a massive 1,100 horsepower in race setup and good for a monstrous 1,600 horses during practice.

Even though it lost the first two races to the 917/10, Mark Donohue drove the 917/30 to six consecutive wins and won the championship by a big margin. The 917/30 remains the most powerful sports car ever built and raced, sitting above the Formula One monsters from the turbo era of the 1980s.

1973 Porsche 917/30
Photo: Porsche
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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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