Porsche 930 with Olive Green Leather Interior: A 911 Turbo specially ordered from the factory by a Le Mans Porsche racer could be expected to be a little bit special. It is. Ferdinand Magazine’s John Glynn tells the story.
“Is this the one with the green seats?” asks a fellow 911 owner, as I emerge from the sublime 930 in the paddock at Donington Park circuit, following a spirited drive through the Derbyshire countryside. The ‘love it or hate it‘ leather interior is perhaps the principal reason for this car’s growing notoriety, but there is more to the story than quirky custom trim. JWR 195Y was originally built for a racer who drove his way to the Le Mans podium, in one of the greatest 911s of all time: the Kremer 935. This Turbo has provenance with a capital ‘P’.
When Francois Trisconi signed with the late Erwin Kremer for the 1979 24 Heures du Mans, he had already enjoyed some success at the greatest race in the world. 1976 saw a respectable debut in Georges Morand’s Lola Ford, with fellow Swiss drivers Morand and Andre Chevalley. Following 279 racing laps, the car finished fifteenth, taking a class win. In 1977, an engine failure forced Team Chevalley to retire their BMW-powered Cheetah after nine hours. Twelve months later, the boys were back in town, this time in a Cosworth DFV-powered Inaltera built by Jean Rondeau. The Swiss team again finished the race, reaching a worthy P13.
In 1979, Trisconi jumped ship to Porsche Kremer Racing, settling into a 935/77A, car number 40, alongside Laurent Ferrier and Francois Servanin. Ferrier and Servanin had been partnered at Le Mans twice previously, once in a 934, and Servanin had also completed the previous year’s event in a 911 RSR, taking a GT class win, one place ahead of Trisconi and one behind Ferrier’s Chevron. Here were three evenly matched drivers then, all capable of a class win over a race distance.
Fifty-five cars took the start on Saturday, with Trisconi doing his first stint after two hours. Early on Sunday morning, the heavens opened and a wet race ensued, minimising the performance advantage of the prototypes. Almost 3,000 miles later, the ballistic Kremer 935 K3 was first past the post, driven by Klaus Ludwig and the enigmatic Whittington Brothers. Second was the Barbour Racing 935, Paul Newman sharing driving duties with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen. The final podium place went to Trisconi and friends in a third 935, which had almost been an afterthought for the Kremer team, running as it was in an outdated Vaillant livery from the previous season. This was the first year a 911-based racer had won at Le Mans.
Drivers who have spent 24 hours blasting around Le Mans in a Kremer Racing Porsche 935 are like astronauts – there aren’t that many of them – and most of us can only imagine how visceral the experience of piloting a 600 bhp 911 through the night on closed public roads must be. When Trisconi decided to order a new road car in 1983, it was almost inevitable that he would again become a Porsche customer, and that his order would be something out of the ordinary.
Introduced for the 1975 model year, the 911 Turbo was a milestone in production car history. The original 911 Turbo was developed around the 3.0 Carrera RS engine, using similar aluminium crankcase, cylinders and heads. Compression on the early Turbos was a low 6.5:1, to which boost pressure of just under 12 psi was added, resulting in 260 bhp at 5,500 rpm. 260 bhp may not sound like a lot, but remember this was 1974. Road testers of the time talk of autobahn runs where they found themselves on the brakes as much as the accelerator, rushing up on buzzing little family cars at 155 mph in the Turbo making for some interesting moments with the first cars’ puny brakes.
Updates for the 1978 model year dealt with the brake issue by adding drilled discs and finned calipers, a la 917. It also lifted engine capacity to 3.3 litres, and brought in certain other developments, which fixed the Turbo firmly at the top of Top Trumps wish lists. Gone was the smooth one-piece tail of the original, to be replaced by the Tea Tray, a taller two-piece engine cover with elevated top edges, under which lay something revolutionary for road cars of the late ‘70s: an intercooler.
Nowadays, commonplace turbodiesel technology makes intercoolers sound about as inspiring as belly button fluff, but 30 years ago, the story was completely different. With an intercooler, the additional engine capacity and slightly higher compression, 260 bhp became 300 bhp, and how we schoolboys loved it: bedroom poster manufacturers just couldn’t keep up. Further tweaks for the 1983 model year lifted torque to 318 lb/ft at 4,000rpm. When Motor magazine tested the car’s 0-60 time at 5.1 seconds with top speed 162 mph, Francois Trisconi couldn’t resist.
The 930’s unrivalled ability to cross continents in a single bound had turned the gloriously understated Turbo tail script into a status symbol for wealthy businessmen. This market loves its creature comforts, and consequently the car had piled on the pounds since its inception, the ex-works weight without options rising from 1140 kg in 1975 to 1300 kg in 1983. Still very much a racer at heart, Trisconi knew that on his Turbo, less would undoubtedly be more. He asked for a car without the trimmings, and Porsche were only too happy to oblige.
The first box unticked was the electric sunroof. No self-respecting racing driver would sacrifice structural rigidity for a sunburnt scalp, so the roof remained intact. Air conditioning was also avoided, the heavy compressor and piping adding weight in all the wrong places, obstructing the flow of cool air into the engine compartment and sapping power. The owner decided he would open a window instead, and added a heated windscreen to keep damp mountain air from fogging up the front glass.
As the order was going directly via Weissach rather than the Swiss importer, other alterations were made to enliven the driving experience. Most noticeable was the addition of a limited slip differential, to assist grip through twisty Alpine passes. The car allegedly came with some engine tweaking to lift power to 330 bhp, something the new owner plans to verify on a future dyno run. Dampers and torsion bars were uprated to give a firmer ride, and race pads were fitted to add to braking prowess.
The decision on paint colour was taken solely to satisfy the owner, as it should always be. Far too often in the UK we are confronted with an incredible fixation on colour, the question being “what colour should I buy for best resale values?” This has to be one of the most bizarre car-buying concepts ever, essentially buying a car to appeal to the next owner. Thankfully, our European Porsche brethren do not usually suffer the same concerns and the decision was made to go with Kiln Red, a colour offered for the 1983 model year only.
As previously mentioned, the interior colour is possibly the most distinctive feature of this unique car. Unhappy with the colours available, the new owner commissioned a colour-to-sample interior in Olive Green leather. To my eyes, the shade is reminiscent of the Vaillant Green of the Kremer car that took Trisconi to the podium, but whatever the reasons for this particular selection, the combination is superb. When the car was finally delivered, it weighed less than 1200 kilos with the fuel light on. The buyer was suitably pleased.
In 1997, Swiss Porsche enthusiast GeorgeK got a call from his mechanic, Alain Pfefferle of the renowned Garage Pfefferle in Sion. The Trisconi car, which Pfefferle had maintained for many years, was up for sale. With just 64,000 kms on the clock and a full history from Pfefferle, himself a 935 and RSR owner and racer, the purchase was a no-brainer.
In its new ownership, it gained a few subtle additions. The front Fuchs wheels, originally 7×16, were replaced with 8×16 rims, retaining 205/55 tyres to minimise tramlining. A 934 boost gauge with telltale was fitted in place of the original clock, and a smaller replacement timepiece from a 924 Turbo was slotted into the centre console. A front strut brace was fabricated from part of a Heigo aluminium roll cage, and other small but satisfying jobs were completed: the restoration of an original Hirschmann electric aerial for example.
The car was enjoyed on many driving holidays, getting as far north as John O’ Groats. Autobahn runs revealed a higher-than-standard top speed, at a stopwatch-verified 170 mph. Ten happy years later, an expanding family and the pressures of working overseas for long periods of time meant the 930 was just not being enjoyed as much as George thought appropriate, so in early 2007 it came on the market.
Having just sold an excellent condition 993 C2S for ‘not being classic enough’, Richard Jackson was two weeks into the search for a spotless 930, when the Trisconi car appeared for sale on impactbumpers.com. Some off-forum discussion followed, centring on the pros and cons of LHD in the UK and the costs involved in importing a vehicle from Switzerland, which of course is outside the EU. A few weeks later, Mr Jackson took Mrs Jackson away for their wedding anniversary, coincidentally bumping into GeorgeK at the airport and seeing the car first hand. A deal was sealed and the happy couple celebrated with a romantic weekend on the shores of Lake Geneva. The following month, a 1500 km drive with a good friend ended with the Trisconi 930 safely ensconced in its new North Yorkshire home.
The importation process was straightforward, though it did take a bit of searching to find a garage that would MOT the car on the chassis number. Work pressures have meant that the car has only covered about 500 kms since its arrival in the UK. Jackson plans to use the car much more next year, and is contemplating a low-numbers track day, to allow him to explore the car’s performance in relative safety, logic I wholeheartedly support.
Having known this car online for a few years, seeing it in the metal for the first time is an experience. We meet on a cloudy day in ordinary surroundings, but despite the lack of sunshine, the colour is very much alive; the metallic shifts in the burnished paint emphasising the nuances of the 930’s sinuous bodywork. Some metallics are an on/off switch, the flip of the paint giving a light and dark side and not much else, but Kiln Red has countless shades. There are hints of brown and orange, fleshy pink and gold, it is simultaneously evocative of elegant copper distillery stills, the warm and inviting red brick of an old Victorian house and bubbling fissures in the earth’s crust.
Opening the door on that interior is a moment to cherish, the verdant leather dash top and trim tinting the black headliner a dark evergreen. The cabin is a classy palette of olive, black and light cream, and when the green is viewed against the smouldering red exterior (in the immaculate door shuts for example), the effect is mesmerising.
Sliding into the flat-backed Recaro sports seats with their supportive side bolsters, the most immediate impression is just how clean this car is inside and out – testament to its still-low mileage of under 70K. I start the car before optimising my driving position and am struck by how quiet it is. It’s been a few years since I last drove a 930, and one of the most surprising things initially is how much more silent it is than its normally-aspirated stable mates.
The 930 transmission was designed to handle prodigious pulling power, so the bigger clutch and gear sets take some moving. As an SC and 3.0 Carrera owner, I am used to the more common ‘double-H’ shift pattern of the 915 gearbox, so not finding reverse first time is a wake-up call. To go backwards using a four-speed 930 you push left and forward, where first would be on a 915 transmission. There are only four forward gears on 930s up to the 1989 model year. Clutch in, I shove the lever past its reverse restraint. We escape from our parking space and are away.
I am immediately aware of the heavier rolling mass, but the car soon shrinks around the drivers seat in the same way that a narrow-bodied 911 does. The throttle action is delicate and direct. This car has a rock-solid 950 rpm idle, which it will return to and sit at quite happily whatever the situation. It pulls cleanly, whether trundling through town or at optimum motorway cruising altitude. Lifting off produces the most wonderful flourish of burbling and popping from the twin exhausts – another 911 which may or may not have a working radio.
I drive 911s most weeks but the first few miles in this car take some getting used to, mainly due to the taller gear ratios. We make it to fourth on a couple of memorable occasions, whereupon a wonderfully lazy 220 km/h is no problem, but as my Dad used to say when I was learning the drums, “anyone can play fast, the trick is playing slow”. The same is true of the 930 – the low gears are the ones that count.
Second and third gears in an SC or Carrera are where the fun is. Once the car is moving at anything above walking pace, first gear remains untroubled until a standstill is involved. Not so in a Turbo. First on this car will run up to over 50 mph, so a comprehensive re-education regarding gear ratios is required. The gearshift itself also demands an amount of familiarity. At low speeds or on the motorway it is no trouble, but the torsional forces acting on the engine and gearbox mounts when shifting up under hard acceleration can easily hamper the shift process – practise definitely helps. The same can be said of decelerating.
This car is fitted with the famous 930 brakes as derived from the 917s, but I find them slightly underwhelming. GeorgeK tells me that Ferodo pads are fitted, with a softer compound in the rear, and that the best way to drive them is with a steadfast shove to the middle pedal when the time comes. Were this my car, I would probably experiment with different pad materials and perhaps consider a slightly larger master cylinder to reduce ultimate pedal effort. A good friend who uses his pristine ’84 930 on track, confirms that his rebuilt brakes also require a solid prod, and has only good things to say about a recent upgrade to Pagid fast road pads, with the fronts replaced by Ferodo DS 3000s for track use. I love the DS 3000 pads on my cars and would be inclined towards them also, learning to modulate their impressive initial bite in this application.
No talk of 930s would be complete without mentioning the all-important boost factor. Having owned a fair few turbocharged cars in my time, I confess to being a recovering boost addict, and the push served up by the 930’s compressor is familiar and fantastic. This car has reliably run boost pressure as high as 1 bar – just over 14 psi – but today is putting out around 0.7 bar or 10 psi, quite fast enough for a novice on the damp twisties. The onset of boost is very controllable with this delicate throttle, and the 934 gauge is far superior to the factory item in the bottom of the rev counter, so we play around a bit with throttle and gears to see just how much we can minimise turbo lag.
Floor the loud pedal at 40 mph in second, and you can count to nine elephants before the boost comes rushing out of the scenery. Start the same exercise at 25 mph in first, and only three elephants pass before the pressure is up, and the Kiln Red ball leaves its cannon with a whoosh. Shift quickly into second at 5,500 revs (serious gearshift practise needed), wait a second for the boost to rebuild and you almost immediately hit 85 mph before reaching for the lever once more. It is utterly moreish, so much so that I am making up excuses to ‘just try this’ and ‘just try that’ all the way back to the pits. Told you I was a recovering addict.
I rack up forty miles in the 930, and as we return to the Donington paddock, I can’t help feeling that it would take at least ten times that to feel properly dialled in. My time with the Trisconi 930 ends with a certain amount of disappointment, but only because I know I’m going home in my daily driver, whilst Richard Jackson gets to go home in a car whose DNA can be traced back to a Kremer Porsche on the Mulsanne Straight.
The challenge now facing Jackson is the same one facing any would-be 930 devotee: learn to seamlessly combine throttle, gears, boost and brakes and forge an almost symbiotic relationship with the machine. Once these areas have become second nature, the driver can then begin to concentrate on maximising the car’s prodigious potential, and develop a proper understanding of how the legend should be driven, in the fullest sense of the word.
The 930 hides its best features where casual observers will not trip over them. Only by digging determinedly into this car’s deep seam of inherent ability will a driver discover the secret to really making progress across country. The early Turbo therefore demands huge respect, but not in the way we have traditionally been led to believe by motoring journalists who did not take the time to fully appreciate the car’s character. It demands respect because if it’s under control and pressing on, the person behind the wheel definitely knows what they are doing.
Thanks to: Richard Jackson, GeorgeK, David Moss.