The Porsche Martini Turbos

Howard Watts
By Howard Watts

Porsche's 930 Turbo is one of its most iconic models, and in 1978, 9 cars were made to commemorate the Porsche and Martini partnership. Of these 9 cars, only 3 were Right Hand Drive, and Howard has 2 of them...

The Porsche 930 Turbo is without a doubt one of the most iconic 911’s ever made, with its incredible power and striking design, utilising wide rear arches to accomodate the turbocharged, air-cooled 3.3L flat six engine. And, of course, the “whale tail” spoiler!

The first 930 Turbo’s were produced between 1974 and 1977, with a 3.0L turbocharged flat six engine, producing 256bhp - a lot of power for a small, light car 40 years ago! In 1978, Porsche facelifted the 930 Turbo with a larger 3.3L engine, and an improved intercooler. The changes increased the power of the 930 Turbo to 300bhp - a lot even by modern standards.

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.


Then, in 1978, the Martini Turbo’s were made. 9 Cars to celebrate the Porsche/Martini collaboration. 

The cars have blueprinted engines - an engine made to EXACT specifications, similar to what would be expected in racing as opposed to production cars!

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 the seats 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.

Howard now has 2 Martini Turbos, believed to be the only 2 full specification cars of the 9 made. 

“My father bought me a Scalextric Martini 911!” Howard explains. “It’s the engineering of Porsches that I love. 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.”

The white Turbo, which is seen most frequently, was the 1978 Earls Court Motor Show car, and then Porsche’s press car. It has covered 138,000 miles in its lifetime and has been driven on every UK race track, with the documentation to show for it! 

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The white Turbo also has a claim to fame within Porsche Culture - serious enthusiast Magnus Walker saw this car at the Earls Court motor show, and started his love affair with Porsche. He was recently reunited with the car (and Howard of course!) at his book signing at Porsche Centre East London, where he left a signed message on the door “Let’s get out and drive!”

A message from Magnus Walker left on the drivers door
A message from Magnus Walker left on the drivers door

Howard also owns the only Black Martini Turbo from 1978. It was originally specified by an oil Sheikh, who INSISTED that the car had to be black with black interior, and paid a premium for it. This car has only covered 28,000 miles in its lifetime and is like new!

Both of these unique cars have been in Howard’s collection for roughly 20 years, after years spent networking to find and purchase the cars.

Both are immaculately cared for and are maintained with a full service history.

Howard is always happy to share his story about the Martini Turbo’s, so feel free to pop in to the garage and say hello - and look out for the cars at future events and shows!