Porsche 917

I couldn’t resist swiping these pics and posting them. One of my all time favourite cars, and I’m always surprised at how small it is, the side by side picture with 914 really shows that. The picture of the rear suspension shows the 2 rubber “giubos” (see note at end of post) on the driveshafts, big brothers to the giubo found in the syncro prop shaft. YouTube vid has Derek Bell having another go.

Note on Giubo – from an Alfa Romeo mailing list:

Subject: Giubo spelling and pronunciation
From: “John Hertzman”
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 07:19:49 -0400
Content-type: text/plain; charset=”us-ascii”
Reply-to: “John Hertzman”
Sender: owner-alfa@xxxxxxxxxx

Anthony White writes “I have a suspicion that the vernacular spelling
accompanies a vernacular pronunciation: guibo, pronounced ‘gwee-bo’, as
opposed to giubo, pronounced something like ‘joo-bo’, following the
pronunciation of Giulietta. I’d be interested to know how others pronounce

In Italy, and presumably in Heaven (if indeed they are not the same place) I
believe “something like ‘joo-bo'” is the first,if not only, choice. Searching
my personal digest archives I found this, from AD7-061, 26 Aug 1998:

“Il Topo recently sent me a photocopy of a hand-written letter, 24 maggio
1986, by GianPaolo Garcea, a singularly literate engineer who was one of
Orazio Satta’s right-hand men as Assistant Director of the Design and
Experimental Department. The letter, with lavish freehand illustrations,
confirms and elaborates on what Topo had previously told me and others, that
“the ing. Boschi had invented and patented the elastic joint (giunto) and
later formed his firm GIUBO SpA, which manufactured the first giubos for the
1900. ‘GIUBO’ = GIUnti Boschi = Boschi joints, and the pronunciation is
(gee-yew-bow or jew-bow).” That is the straight squeak from what is, as far
as I know, the last surviving purebred Portello mouse.”

The person I irreverently called Il Topo in those days (from previous
references to “the oldest rat in the barn”) is Don Black, who had met Dr.
Boschi when he was working at Portello in the sixties. Black’s friend and
mentor GianPaolo Garcea, who was a design engineer at Portello from 1935 to
1982, thus spanning from the late Jano era to the late Hruska era, is the
author of a memoir “La Mia Alfa”. It is a singularly charming work, presented
with the printed text and photos on the right-hand page and the beautifully
handwritten manuscript and illustrative sketches on the left-land page. I
suppose it is an anachronism, writing and engineering without typewriters and
drafting machines, let alone computers, but there once were engineers who
didn’t need spellcheckers, and this book is a window into that world, for
those who may be interested.

Later in my digest archives I found this, from AD7-715, 14 May 1999, from the
late Fredissimo:

Subject: GOO-EEBOS?

“What the hell are GUIBOS? I wonder if you mean GIUBOS = GEE-OOBOS. Sorry

but it irritates me when the wrong names are used for Alfa parts. At a parts

store in Italy they would not understand. Fred DI Matteo”

I also found earlier references to Boschi in letters from both Black and Fred,
but didn’t look them up (time presses) but guess that Fred’s initial chewing
me out as a proxy for Don was in off-digest correspondence; but from the
on-digest evidence it was gee-yew-bow or jew-bow at Portello, and something
like GEE-OOBO at the parts counter.

Ralph DeLauretis asks “Does anyone know why Alfa when they designed the Alfa 6
sedan they re – designed the Alfetta sedan platform to accept a front mounted
tranny? Did they realize their mistake? Cut costs? Anyone know?”

My impression (haven’t looked for the source) is that something Don Black
wrote said either that the design of the Sei either preceded or was concurrent
with that of the Alfetta. It was not unusual for a project to be shelved,
either temporarily or permanently, to concentrate limited resources on a
prospectively more lucrative mass-market product. The Sportiva and Giulietta
are such a pair. I am fairly certain, on nothing more than intuition, that the
Alfetta engine bay was initially dimensioned to accept the V6, which was not a
fresh design when it reached production. But that is guessing.

John H.

  1. #1 by Old Fussbudget on November 4, 2010 - 1:23 pm

    Wow! Balancing those carbs must have been interesting. And I’m a bit concerned about the feet in front of the front wheels — my daily driver is like that too, should I be worried? 😉

    I guess in the early ’70s it wouldn’t have been so difficult to find a 914…which shared a distinction with a car I once owned, a ’78 Horizon: Consumer Report rated them both as unacceptable* for handling. On the 914 it was because the tire pressures had to match within two pounds or it would get squirrely, and the Horizon because the steering had positive feedback, so if you jerked the wheel and let go the oscillations would get worse instead of better. I never did that, but I did notice that if there was a tar strip between changing lanes the car somehow felt as though it would have been happier with the other end in front.

    *For the first Subaru brought to US they did worse — they said, roughly, “This is not a car.”

    • #2 by albell on November 4, 2010 - 1:35 pm

      I believe the 908 had the drivers feet further forward, inches from the car’s nose. Those drivers had guts. You owned a Horizon? poor sod :).

      see here for Paul Frere’s description of the 917 and 908

      • #3 by Old Fussbudget on November 4, 2010 - 2:21 pm

        It had great paint and was comfortable to sit in. I won’t get into the other stuff now…except to say that their problems with plastics were about a thousand times worse than VW’s. Even the steering wheel shrank and split so you could see the steel core.

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