Custom Porsche 911 GT3 Honors 1985 Le Mans Victory
Commissioned by the winning driver Paolo Barilla for his 60th birthday, the modified 911 GT3 is the first product of Porsche’s new customization program.
Earlier this year, Porsche launched Sonderwunsch, a new initiative to design one-off dream cars based on old or new Porsches. The division is a collaboration between Porsche Classic—the company’s restoration and parts department—and Exclusive Manufaktur, which builds Porsche’s bespoke vehicles. While customization usually brings unique materials or paint jobs, the Sonderwunsch program promises owners the ability to modify virtually anything they want, including powertrain and suspension parts. Now the first product of Sonderwunsch has arrived, a 911 GT3, modified by Paolo Barilla for his 60th birthday and honoring the Porsche 956 that he took to overall victory at Le Mans in 1985.
The most obvious callback to Barilla’s 956 is the GT3’s livery, which combines Summer Yellow paint with white and black stripes. Although the Le Mans–winning car’s sponsors have been left off the new creation, the number seven is still emblazoned on the hood and doors. The wheel design mimics the 956’s when it triumphed at the Circuit de la Sarthe, with white wheels at the front—harkening back to the aeroblades from the race car—and gold wheels at the rear. The black and yellow combo continues inside.
The rear wing is modified with redesigned end plates that are influenced by the chunky wing on the 956. Engineers from the production 911 GT3 team were involved early on and tested the new wing in the wind tunnel to maintain aerodynamic performance. Inside, the gear lever is a spherical aluminum unit meant to recall the magnesium ball from the 956’s gear shifter. There are also custom sills with the “956 Le Mans 1985” printed alongside a silhouette of Barilla’s race winning car.
Barilla was closely involved in the project, which took three years to go from initial sketch to finished product. The timeline was so long, in fact, that development began with the previous 991 GT3, since the 992 was still in development at the time. Barilla paid three visits to Porsche during the development of his special 911 GT3, and he was even hired as an official production employee so he could attach the gearbox to the engine using a torque-controlled screw device. No price was announced for Barilla’s creation, but given the bespoke nature of the product, it was likely a healthy sum in addition to the GT3’s $162,450 base price.