The Tao of Steve’s Turbo Carrera

Stories abound that McQueen did everything he could to use the car as it was intended, and in that way, I imagine he had great fun with it

{vsig}2008-11_2250{/vsig}

In 1976, Porsche unveiled what was to be the first production 911 Turbo, known internally as a 930 and externally as the Turbo Carrera. Their success in recent racing had been achieved with turbocharged engines, and for the first time, Porsche applied this racing technology to a production road car.

When introduced, the Turbo Carrera garnered much attention, not only for its thrilling performance but also for its avant-garde styling, which included wide fender flares and a distinctive rear spoiler.

This example of a 1976 Turbo Carrera is unusual, being one of only 530 originally imported to the U.S. that year. However, this one has the more important distinction of being specially ordered and originally owned by film star Steve McQueen. By that time, the King of Cool had already owned, driven, and raced several Porsches, including a 356 Speedster, a 917, and several 911s. His affinity for the German marque was well known. McQueen ordered his Turbo in Slate Gray, the color of the early 911S he drove on location and on screen during the filming of “Le Mans.”

McQueen’s son Chad recalls his father’s time with the Turbo, saying fondly, “That car really hauled.” A family friend, Dean Martin Jr., was equally enthralled by the 930 and continually pursued McQueen to sell him the car, which he did in 1978, to Martin and his fiancée, Dorothy Hamill.

This important 930 Turbo Carrera was featured in the November 2007 Porsche Panorama and in the recent book McQueen’s Machines by Matt Stone, in which Chad McQueen tells the story of his father coming home from a trip a day early and catching him driving the Turbo. While Steve wasn’t too upset by his son practicing his shifting techniques down the neighborhood streets, he nonetheless sent Chad to his room to think about his actions behind the wheel of a car capable of staggering performance, a true supercar.

A full restoration was completed in 1995, and McQueen’s Turbo remains in outstanding mechanical and cosmetic condition. The car is equipped with its original engine, limited-slip differential, the original 15-inch Fuchs alloy wheels, and period-correct tires, as well as a sunroof. McQueen also fitted a switch on the dashboard that disabled the tail and brake lights so as to reduce the chance of detection by police.

Steve McQueen is widely regarded as an important automotive enthusiast and race car driver who used his on-screen talent to support racing ambitions. This 1976 Porsche 930 affords the rare opportunity to acquire an important piece of McQueen and Porsche history.

Jim Schrager

Jim Schrager - SCM Contributor

Jim wrote for the 356 Registry and SCM for over a decade, was a Contributing Editor for Porsche Panorama (the magazine of the Porsche Club of America), and wrote for Excellence and the Porsche Market Letter. He has written two popular books on vintage Porsches: Buying, Driving, and Enjoying the Porsche 356; and Buying, Driving, and Enjoying the Early Porsche 911. He owns about 20 vintage Porsches, which he attempts to keep on the road through all kinds of weather. He is a clinical professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he teaches a popular course on strategy. He actively races his family’s 41-foot sailboat with his two boys on Lake Michigan.

Posted in German