In 1985, Paolo Barilla won the famous Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in a private Porsche 956. Now, some 36 years on, the Italian race car driver has designed a unique Porsche 911 GT3 based on the very ride that led him to victory.
Barilla’s “dream car” is the first to come out of the marque’s new Sonderwunsch program that is said to allow for greater customization options than before. The billionaire entrepreneur, who also happens to be the deputy chairman of the Barilla Group, commissioned the one-off on his 60th birthday and has been extremely involved in the creative process. In fact, he actually acted as production manager throughout the build.
Three years in the making, the sports car wears a special livery that pays homage to Barilla’s prized 956. Finished in Summer Yellow with white and black accents, the exterior has the winning race number 7 on the bonnet and doors, along with a set of striking stripes. This was no easy feat: The graphics couldn’t be copied directly from one Porsche to another as the racecar is flat and square while the current 911 has a more rounded silhouette. Because of this, the team had to project the lines onto the body with a laser and trial the paint job several times before Barilla was satisfied.
The Paolo Barilla-designed Porsche 911 GT and the winning Le Mans racer that inspired it. Martin Meiners
Other custom touches include the rear wing which was developed exclusively for this model and tested in the wind tunnel, according to Porsche. The GT3 also features “PB 60” across the flanks to represent Barilla’s initials and age, as well as white rims at the front and gold at the back.
“In the ‘80s, I had the chance to drive the wonderful Porsche 956, an iconic car in terms of performance and beauty,” Barilla said in a statement. “The interpretation of some elements in a modern GT3 makes that memory exciting and vital—for me and for people who are close to me.”
Inside, meanwhile, the black cabin features a yellow trim and a specially designed “Le Mans 1985” logo on the dash and headrests. The standout is the bespoke gear lever, which takes cues from the magnesium ball in the ‘80s racer and was milled from a single aluminum block. Barilla actually became an official production employee with his very own ID badge so that he could flange the gearbox to the engine by using a torque-controlled screw device.
The headrests have been embroidered with a special “Le Mans 1985” logo. Martin Meiners
“Authentic experiences like these are ultimately what makes Porsche Porsche,” adds Philipp Setter, head of Sonderwunsch customer consultation. “Our customers have generally seen and experienced a lot, but for projects of this size, we always try to open a few more doors that would otherwise be closed, for very good reason.”
Although Barilla’s Porsche would not have come cheap, a four-wheeled reminder of his greatest motorsports success is surely priceless.
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