Porsche 911s are all special, but some are more so than others. Porsche is a company that by definition makes special cars, though the nature of the business it’s in inevitably attracts a type of customer who is always keen to explore, to do something unique, and to own and drive something individual and different. Ever since the first 356s rolled out of Porsche’s doors, it’s been open to providing solutions for its most exacting clientele, the tradition for personalisation always possible, your imagination and your budget being the only permissable limitations.
The Sonderwunsch-program, or ‘Special Wishes’ department has always existed, but it would only be formalised in 1986 when Zuffenhausen introduced the Porsche Exclusive department, with which Porsche aimed to fulfil every customer’s wish and desire. Of course, any requests had to be within feasible, technical, legal and quality-related constraints, Porsche otherwise leaving the sometimes-difficult element of taste solely down to its customers. Porsche Exclusive has been, and remains, an integral part of Porsche’s business, though part of its remit has been to occasionally build special cars in limited series. They are infrequent, though always highly desirable. The most famous and prevalent to be built is the 911 Turbo ‘Flachbau’. Often, incorrectly, translated to ‘flatnose’, which it visibly presents, it more literally translates to ‘fl at construction’, which is pleasingly Germanic in its description. Just like the standard 930 Turbo helped to homologate Porsche’s race cars for weekend winning, the 930 SE Flachbau Turbo can trace its roots back to Porsche’s racing activities. Beautiful and iconic as the 911’s silhouette is, its derivation pre-dated the competition it would fi nd itself in during the late 1960s and 1970s. Sports car racing was a rapidly evolving and explosively competitive environment, and the upright headlights on Porsche’s production based race cars were at an aerodynamic disadvantage over rivals. The rules back then were fairly open to interpretation though, and as a result, Porsche’s competition department removed the aerodynamic disadvantage the familiar nose of the 911 presented, and flattened its profile to improve airflow at the high speeds its turbocharged engine produced out back. The resultant 935s in Group 5 racing might have dominated on track in the late 1970s, but customers wanting the same look on their road cars would have to wait until 1981 before the 930 SE legend was created.
The numbers built vary; Porsche itself quotes 984, though such is the nature of Special Wishes and its formalised Porsche Exclusive department that it’s not inconceivable that a few more were quietly delivered to its customers off the books. A rarity then, though arguably not that ‘exclusive’, particularly when you consider some of Porsche Exclusive’s other officially sanctioned production cars. The 993 Turbo S, 997 Sport Classic, 997 Speedster and 991 Club Coupe all owe their existence to the Porsche Exclusive department. It has produced even rarer, tiny number build specials like the 964 lightweight Turbo, 964 Turbo-look Speedster, 993 Turbo Cabriolet and the 993 Speedster, the latter of which only three were ever built. By way of comparison, the 930 SE is common, even if each is arguably as unique as the individual who ordered it. The 930 SE retains, exemplifies even, all the hallmarks of a proper Porsche Exclusive model. It is more than a personalisation of colour, trim or equipment, but a fully sanctioned special, with significant body revisions, so substantial as to make a serious visual impact, and be a defining characteristic, an icon, in its own right. An erashaping car, the 930 SE exemplified the excess of the 1980s, not least because it depended on individual specification choosing one over a conventional 930 Turbo – itself already a rare and expensive car in its 1980s heyday. The work involved to create it wasn’t insubstantial, the 930 SE requiring plenty of highly skilled work hours to produce it within the Porsche Exclusive department.
The modifications to the front wings are extensive, requiring revisions to the nose underneath, the flattened profile zinc-coated steel wings, with their pop-up headlights, requiring additional work to allow the motors and linkage to work properly. The lower front is constructed of glass fibre-reinforced plastic (GRP), behind which the oil cooler and air condenser for the air conditioning system are positioned. The body modifications aren’t just limited to the nose, the sills being extended, dramatically leading to the rear wheel arches, which are pierced by slatted intakes that duct air into the engine. The motorsport heritage is obvious, the top of those flat wings vented to reduce the pressure in the wheel wells, improving air flow for the benefit of brake cooling and downforce. That’s something Porsche would later re-visit with the 991 GT3 RS.