Rewind 40 long years and race ace, Walter Röhrl was competing in his first and only rally season in a Porsche – today the quiet German was reunited with the 924 Carrera GTS Rallye he and his trusty co-pilot, Geistdörfer made famous together…
On May 15th, Röhrl and co-driver Christian Geistdörfer rolled off the starting ramp and began their racing quest in the gold and black 924 ‘Monnet’ at the ‘International ADAC-Metz Rally 1981’ – the start of the first and only rally season that Walter Röhrl contested behind the wheel of a Porsche.
What followed was an impressive four overall victories in the German Rally Championship with defects and car issues hindering the team while still managing to achieve second place in the overall standings. Röhrl and Geistdörfer then took first place in the Hessen Rally, followed by three more victories in the Serengeti Safari Rally, Vorderpfalz, and Baltic Rally.
Kuno Werner, head of the museum workshop:
“The biggest problem with commissioning was not the technology but the secrecy. On its 74th birthday, the 924 Carrera GTS should be at the door of the two-time rally world champion. But Walter Röhrl knows so many in the house that it was difficult to keep the project a secret. But the rally revival succeeded: at the beginning of March, the team from the Porsche Museum and Roland Kussmaul surprised Walter Röhrl with the ready-to-use ‘Monnet’ – Porsche for your birthday.”
1982 saw the winning team of Röhrl and Geistdörfer switching to Opel, and the 924 Carrera GTS had its last outing in February 1982 at the Boucles de Spa Rally. Circuit specialist Jacky Ickx was at the wheel of start number 4… then on August 27, 1982, ‘the test car 924 GTS’ was handed over to the museum still dressed in the blue Gitanes cigarette brand colours used for the rally in Belgium.
Built on December 12, 1980, the 924 Carrera GTS Rallye is also one of the pre-production vehicles and is the fifth of nine prototypes produced. The two-liter four-cylinder turbo engine is also the power unit from early testing; an engine without a serial number that survived a complete rally season in 1981 with no damage incurred and continues to drive the gold-black 924 to maximum performance in 2021.
The lengthy and skillful restoration process had one goal… to retain maximum originality and integrity with preservation being paramount, including the patina and smallest of details. Even the red seat belts that remain faded by the sun after so many years are present, accompanied by a capital R embroidered on the driver’s side and combination signatures embroidered on the seat belts: Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer.
From the original 911 turbo brake calipers to the hand-welded intercooler housing, the classic Porsche has been completely overhauled with original parts used wherever possible.
The car has also been reunited with its original gold and black paintwork of the cognac manufacturer ‘Monnet’ and still bears the signature of its makers including all the special features of the 924 in rally trim; rear-axle control arms laminated in GRP to protect against stone chips, thick metal plates on the underbody as protection for the oil pan and gearbox. The dry sump for the oil supply is located to the rear and is accessed through an opening next to the boot lock.
“It was a huge surprise for me. I got out of the car 40 years ago and never sat in it again. So I was incredibly surprised when Roland suddenly drove up in this car. The car opened the world of Porsche for me. That is why I am particularly attached to it. For me, this is a journey back in time. I immediately feel 40 years younger again.”
“As a driver, you went crazy with the turbo characteristics. The turbo lag was huge! In order to get out of the curve quickly, you had to accelerate again shortly before the curve, always keeping the engine speed high.
“In 1981, the newly formed Porsche team did not expect much of a chance against the established competition. Getting through was the ultimate goal. But the car was quick right away! At the beginning we had around 184 kW (250 hp), later also more – not the power, but handling and traction were the strengths of the 924. And everything held up. That’s what Porsche is like.”
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