Porsche 911 Turbo Martini

Special wore drinks brand’s colours inside and out, while the engine was completely reworked.

Bring on the flared trousers, big hair and gaudy furniture! Nothing about the Seventies was subtle – and the 911 followed the trend.

As early as 1972, Porsche was using turbocharging technology in its race cars, developing incredible 1,100bhp competition monsters for the CanAm Challenge Cup series in North America. That year, the marque took three out of the top four places, followed by five out of the top six the next season.

Inevitably, turbocharged road models were soon turning track wins into showroom sales. Conceived as the flagship of the 911 range, the first Turbo went on sale in 1974.

The ‘930’, as it was referred to within Porsche, had a completely reworked 3.0-litre flat-six engine. Before long, the car became infamous for its exhilarating acceleration, challenging handling and extreme turbo lag. That didn’t stop it being a success, however, and buyers clamoured to have the Turbo badge on the back of their 911.

As its popularity continued, the model was developed further. In 1978, engine capacity rose to 3.3 litres and power was boosted by 40bhp to 300bhp.

The example in our pictures is the very machine that sat in the spotlight on Porsche’s stand at the British Motor Show in 1978. From such an illustrious beginning, it went on to join the firm’s press fleet as a test car. Today, it belongs to independent Porsche specialist and private collector Howard Watts.

What about the Martini connection? Well, it’s not the first car from Stuttgart to adopt the name, after the drinks brand started sponsoring Porsche race teams in a partnership that proved enormously successful. This particular example is one of only nine special-order 3.3-litre Martini variants built in 1978 to celebrate the relationship.

Martini’s colours were white, red and blue, which is why there are stripes on the outside and bright cabin trim in those shades. Note the unusual padded blocks on the seats: these are Fuhrmann chairs, designed to have orthopaedic benefits for occupants.

The innovation was deemed too expensive for production, and they never made it any further than these nine cars. However, all Turbo interiors placed the emphasis on luxury rather than race-inspired minimalism – a tradition that continues to this day.

On the outside, the Turbo was identified by its wide wheelarches and large ‘tea-tray’ rear wing. For 1978, the engine was moved 30mm further back to improve weight distribution and handling, but the four-speed gearbox remained unaltered.

Costing more than £78,000 when new (that’s around £320,000 by today’s standards), this true Seventies supercar was in a league of its own. Along with other early forced-induction 911s, the model set in motion the continuing success of the 911 Turbo.

Owner profile by Howard Watts As with the other owners we spoke to, Howard has been a Porsche fan since his childhood. This isn’t his first Martini 911 – although that model was a bit smaller than his current car!

“My father bought me a Scalextric Martini 911!” he explains. “It’s the engineering of Porsches that I love,” he says. “When I went to see them racing as a kid, I was hooked right from the first time I watched, and have wanted to own one ever since.” Howard achieved his goal – and much more.

The marque went on to dominate his life to such an extent that he became a specialist Porsche dealer in Sudbury, Suffolk (see www.riddelsdell.co.uk).

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