Lot #23: 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet
One of the finest and most original examples of the ultimate, first-generation Porsche 911 Turbo, in open-air Cabriolet form.
- Visually stunning and in outstanding mechanical order throughout
- Impeccably maintained, well preserved, and incredibly original
- Final-year, first-generation 911 Turbo in open Cabriolet form
- Highly equipped with rare optional paint and interior
- Offered with Porsche Certificate of Authenticity and clean Carfax report
- Complete with warranty book, owners’ manual, untouched tools, and air pump
- Features and options include tonneau cover and cellular phone preparation package
- Investment-grade example of an unqualified motorsports-inspired legend
Highly rare and visually stunning with special-order Silver Metallic factory paint finish, as-new black top and Silk Gray interior with black piping. Very well-optioned and clearly benefiting from fastidious care, maintenance, and proper storage from new. Exceptional appearance and running order throughout and a joy to drive as intended. A key race-bred sports car for any serious collection in all respects.
Specifications: M93/68 air-cooled, 3,299 cc turbocharged and intercooled SOHC flat-6 engine, Bosch Motronic engine management and LE-Jetronic fuel injection, 282 hp (SAE Net), four-wheel independent suspension, G50/50 five-speed manual gearbox in rear transaxle, hydraulic ventilated and cross-drilled four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 89.4"
Experts have described Porsche’s evergreen 911 as “a triumph of development over design” and nowhere is that statement more appropriate than in reference to the legendary Turbo. Designed to qualify the Group 4-bound 934 for international competition and benefiting from technologies developed from the mighty Can Am-champion 917/30, Porsche’s new turbocharged 930 debuted to acclaim at the 1974 Paris Show and orders began pouring in, with rabid U.S. buyers forced to wait until 1976. A large-capacity KKK (Kühnle, Kopp & Kausch) turbocharger was mated to the 930 Turbo’s 3.0-liter flat-six engine and suspension tweaks, larger brakes, and a strengthened four-speed gearbox rounded out the mechanical package. The turbocharger’s waste gate was a world production-car first. Other Turbo upgrades included widened wheel arches, rear wheels and tires, and a functional "whale-tail" spoiler to drastically reduce rear-end lift at speed.
FIA racing-homologation requirements demanded production of at least 400 road cars over two consecutive model years, much to the initial horror of Porsche’s sales department. Best known simply as the "Turbo,” the car was internally designated Type 930 and from launch, it garnered rave reviews from magazine testers and hard-core driving enthusiasts alike. A Car and Driver retrospective article on the 930 Turbo’s American launch and the car’s unruly character was particularly entertaining. “Porsche staged the Turbo’s U.S. launch at Ohio’s Transportation Research Center, where a 7.5-mile oval with 36-degree corner banking safely supported 156-mph thrill rides. Shortly thereafter, Car and Driver blitzed Manhattan, flying through intersections with well-timed first-gear boost surges lofting the front tires over crosswalks.” Writing for the UK’s Motor Sport in 1977, renowned journalist and 1955 Mille Miglia-winning navigator, Denis Jenkinson, summed the car up best. “I never thought the day would come when Ferraris, Maseratis, Lamborghinis and similar exotica would pale into insignificance in my book of motoring, but that day came with the Porsche Turbo.” Fast but demanding, the Turbo routinely challenged even highly skilled drivers and made even those who mastered it better. Today, the first-generation 930 Turbo’s performance envelope remains impressive, including 0-to-60 times less than 6 seconds, 13-second quarter-miles, and nearly 160 mph flat out. These performance levels make it one of the ultimate sports cars regardless of era.
Comprehensive improvements from 1978 made this already potent performer even more formidable with the addition of an intercooler allowing higher compression, an engine-displacement increase to 3.3 litres, and a host of important detail refinements. However, Porsche struggled to maintain the Turbo’s availability in the United States, where stiff emissions mandates proved onerous, making 1979 the last model year for the 930 there until 1986; however, production continued for Porsche’s other markets. Eventually, Porsche brought the car – now re-designated ‘911 Turbo’ – back to America for 1986 and its triumphant return was the subject of countless articles and road tests. A catalytic converter with an oxygen sensor helped it meet emissions standards and US-spec power output was boosted to 282 horsepower. New 16X8 and 16X9 wheels and fat VR-rated tires harnessed the Turbo’s power and tamed its handling somewhat. Changes for 1987 were limited to the addition of Targa and Cabriolet bodies to the Turbo range and 1988 cars were essentially unchanged. Big news for the final 1989 models came with a switch from the prior four-speed gearbox to the smooth-shifting G50/50 (950) five-speed unit, including revised ratios to fully exploit the Turbo’s power curve. In addition to their stunning performance and final-year status, these 1989 Turbos are also among the last cars built at Porsche’s old Stuttgart works, with each one virtually hand-built.
Verified by its corresponding Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, this stunning, final-year 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet is one of just 600 produced for North American export prior to the advent of the 964-based Turbo. It was completed on November 04, 1988 and finished in rare special-order Silver Metallic (Code S7) paint, handsomely complemented by a black top and Silk Grey/Black Leather/Leatherette Belt (Code QM) upholstery. Desirable options included a short-throw gear shift lever, limited-slip differential, tonneau cover, Blaupunkt ‘Reno’ radio, amplifier system, U.S.-standard emissions equipment, and the high-dollar cellular-phone preparation package. The vehicle was sold new from a Porsche dealer in the upscale East Cleveland, Ohio enclave of Beachwood, where the wealthy residents are well-known for their fair-weather enjoyment and proper storage of their high-end automobiles.
This very special 911 Turbo Cabriolet is believed to have enjoyed single-owner care and adult enjoyment there until 2004, with its Carfax-documented history dating to November 1996, when it passed an Ohio emission inspection at 15,000 recorded miles. In 2004 at just over 19,000 miles, it was acquired by its next owner, a resident of Bedford, Ohio, who retained it until 2008. At that moment in time, our Consignor located this car as it had been put up for sale. He was seeking an ideal correct and original first-generation air-cooled Porsche Turbo in this exact color combination. He fell in love with the car and called the owner to finalize the purchase, only to find out that another collector had already purchased it. This Turbo never faded from memory and regular searching on the internet bore fruit in 2012 when it was once again available. This time, our patient and highly selective Consignor, a confirmed Porsche enthusiast from Southern California, was finally able to purchase it.
As offered, this Turbo Cabriolet retains its factory-applied paint finish, with depth-gauge readings consistent with Porsche factory specifications. The striking interior and upholstery remain pristine, and the legendary turbocharged, intercooled ‘flat six’ powerplant starts on command and performs exceptionally well. In keeping with the entirety of this wonderfully original and well-preserved Turbo, the engine bay and engine are honestly presented, maintaining a proper factory-correct appearance. The body remains corrosion-free and the even the factory-applied cosmolene sealant is still present. Maintenance under the present owner is fastidious and exacting to say the least, with the vehicle serviced annually by marque specialists. Recent work includes replacement of the cam-chain cover seals with NOS items in 2015, plus replacement of the hydraulic cartridges for the luggage-compartment and engine-cover lids, and a brand new set of factory-correct Michelin tires. The driving experience is electrifying, with outstanding performance, turbo boost, smooth clutch and shifting action, and an overall feeling of integrity and originality that simply cannot be duplicated.
As offered, this stellar 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet will surely provide an ideal and welcome entry at any worthy show or concours event you should choose to attend. Upon close inspection, it is clear that this Turbo has enjoyed meticulous care and ownership throughout its life and with only 26,700 miles at the time of writing and cataloguing, it is lightly used and virtually factory-fresh. For astute Porsche collectors seeking an honest, highly original, and top-notch, “no stories” 911 Turbo from the historic final production year and in the first-generation car’s best form, this very fine example ticks every box!