On rather twisty and slow tracks like Nürburgring and Targa Florio, the 917 was not suited well even after being modified to the 917K. So rather than trying to make one size fit all, Porsche built dedicated cars for each type of racing track.
Based upon the lightweight and short Porsche 909 which was used in hillclimbing, the new open cockpit version, the 908/03, was even shorter than the 908/02, and only weighed 500 kg (1,100 lb)- an astonishing figure for a long-distance racing car- in comparison, the 917K weighed about 840 kg (1,900 lb). This version was successful in the 1970 Nurburgring 1000 km and the Targa Florio, where typical speeds were only about half of the 240 mph (390 km/h) which the 917LH long tails could achieve at Le Mans.
The 908/02 in which Steve McQueen finished second at the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring was also used as a camera car for the Le Mans (film) in the race itself. Steve McQueen originally intended to drive a Porsche 917 in the race, though this was vetoed by the studio funding the film.
In 1971, vertical fins were added to the rear of the 908s which were outpaced at the Targa by two Alfa Romeo Tipo 33s. All entered 908s crashed (2 on the first lap; Brian Redman was badly injured after crashing 20 miles into his first lap), but Vic Elford had managed to set fastest lap. The next race at the Nurburgring saw a 1-2-3 finish for the 908 in front of two Alfas, but with Alfa scoring wins at Brands Hatch and Watkins Glen, it was proven that these prototypes could even beat the 917s.