This wasn’t a nickname for a small car that came out of sexism. When the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) announced a homologated class for sports cars with a minimum weight of 1760 pounds and engines up to five liters in size, Porsche got on the case and designed the now legendary 917. To race in the class, Porsche had to create 25 units by April of 1969 so it could participate in that year’s season. Porsche had six cars and all the parts to make the other 19 as the deadline approached, but the FIA insisted all 25 had to be built to qualify. Porsche’s racing department’s resources were being stretched thin, so “We put together apprentices, messenger boys, bookkeepers, office people, and secretaries,” said Rico Steinemann, Porsche’s Racing Manager at the time.
There have been over eleven different versions of the 917 since 1969 and 59 units in total and is often considered the greatest race car in history. However, the first 25 were to be forever affectionately known as the “secretary cars.”