Porsche 911 Martini Turbo – is it the right one?
There is a 1979 Porsche 911 “Martini” Turbo for sale at Silverstone Auctions this weekend with an estimate of £60-75,000. Any enthusiast worth their salt will be familiar with the car and the fabulous Martini racing livery which survives to this day in Formula One – what they may not be familiar with is the back story.
Over the years we’ve heard all sorts of rumours and theories about Martini Turbos and their rarity. Probably the most generous we have heard is that only ten RHD cars were built – eight in white and two in black – so when Silverstone Auctions’ pre-sale email dropped into our inbox we got pretty excited at the prospect of one coming to market. By complete coincidence this happened at the same time as a visit to a well know Porsche specialist – Gmund Cars – who just happened to have discovered an abandoned Martini Turbo that was now in their workshop for restoration.
What struck us was the fact that no-one seemed to have all the facts about the Martini Turbos. All we could ascertain was that the cars were not an official limited edition like the 924 Martini and that in fact the factory optioned stripes ( code M42) were the only thing that set a Martini Turbo apart from a standard car. The standard 911 SC could also be optioned with the Martini stripe. According to Porsche specialist Philip Raby, who wrote an article on an owner’s Martini Turbo for 911 & Porsche World magazine way back in 2004:
And I’m not exaggerating when I say that the car is almost unique. If Porsche had produced an actual limited-edition 911 Turbo with Martini livery, there’d be a record of the number made, but because the Martini stripes were only an option, no one knows exactly how many cars were equipped with them. [The owner], however, has done some research and he believes that around 24 right-hand-drive Turbos with the Martini option were sold in 1979. It seems that most were white and had the eye-catching Caramel interior with its strange mix of leather and fabric seat coverings. It’s thought that this is because, in many cases, dealers ordered the cars to display in their showrooms, and so went with the colour scheme favoured by Porsche. It’s also apparent that the stripes could be bought and retrofitted to an existing car, although there is no evidence that this ever happened.
What is also interesting is that some Martinis have the Dr.Fuhrmann orthopaedic seats which are colour coded to match the Martini livery – which makes sense – and we have even seen variations in the design of the Martini stripes. It would be very easy to have a stripe made up to turn a non-Martini car into a non-M42 optioned “Martini” so watch out for the genuine article, if that is possible.
The fact that these cars come up for sale so rarely bears testament to the fact that few cars left the factory with the Martini stripe option but until Andrew Mearns of Gmund completes his research we will probably have to wait just a little bit longer to find out the full story behind the legendary Martini Turbo and you can bet your bottom dollar that if the car at the Silverstone Classic sale sells well we will see more cars with Martini stripes becoming available. In the meantime you can bid on a car at the Silverstone Classic auction this weekend or speak to Gmund Cars about their barn-find car which is undergoing restoration.
Previously sold 911 Martini Turbo at Alexanders Prestige.
With thanks to Andrew Mearns at Gmund Cars and Philip Raby at Philip Raby Porsche.