It’s not uncommon for a big automotive parts company to sponsor a project car, and Summit Racing is no exception.
Through the decades, Summit Racing has supported dozens of vehicle builds—from a Factory Five Racing Mark IV Roadster and LS-swapped Miata, to a Pro-Touring Camaro and Baja 1000 Ford Bronco (and seemingly every vehicle niche in between).
So, since Summit Racing is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2018, we wanted to dig deep and find its first sponsored project car.
Did we find some Pro Street muscle car, slammed Deuce Coupe hot rod, or tire-shredding dragster?
Nope—we found a fiberglass-bodied kit car, the Elite Laser 917.
Modeled after the 1970s-era Porsche 917 race cars, the Laser was a rear-engined kit car built upon the (surprise!) Volkswagen Beetle chassis. Its unclear how many Laser 917s Elite Enterprises cranked out between 1972-82, but a Google search turned up plenty of stories on 917s in varying degrees of condition.
One of the most unique aspects of Summit Racing’s build was the powerplant. Instead of the typical air-cooled four-cylinder VW engines that are common in similar kit cars, Summit Racing tossed in a Buick 231 c.i.d. V6—a feat that required significant modifications to the original kit’s plans.
Car Craft magazine featured the Summit Racing Laser 917 in its February 1981 issue, written by none other than the fantastic OnAllCylinders contributor Jeff Smith. The story is chock-full of details on the build, and the entire piece is swimming in 1970s gearhead nostalgia.
Here’s the original article. [Click images to enlarge them for better readability.]