Rally Legend Walter Röhrl’s Porsche 356 Roadster Turbo

Rally legend Walter Röhrl shows off his Porsche 356 Roadster Turbo which, as the headline suggests, is not standard. The original 60 hp engine has been replaced with something much stronger.

Rally Legend Walter Röhrl's Porsche 356 Roadster

The backstory

The year is 1996 when Viktor Grahser, a retired flight mechanic, visits an inn in the village of Klein-Neusiedl, twenty-five kilometers south-east of the Austrian capital Vienna. Grahser, who is also an enthusiastic Porsche collector returned to his native homeland of Austria with three Porsche 356 after his wife died in Australia where they had lived for more than 30 years.

At the inn, Grahser gets to know the photographer, Rudolf Schmied who is also the son of the innkeeper. Schmied helps him get spare parts for the Porsches and no later than eight years after they first met, he finally gets invited to Viktor Grahser’s house.

Schmied now realized just how important the Porsche 356’s were to Grahser: he had removed part of the house wall to park one of them in his living room. Sitting in the middle of the room was a 356 Speedster with just one headlight and no floor or seats. The engine sat behind the car, next to a decorative pile of wood.

Rally Legend Walter Röhrl's Porsche 356 Roadster Turbo

Grahser’s great dream to open a Porsche museum

Grahser’s great dream was to open a Porsche museum in his Austrian homeland. He already had the first three cars ready. The 356 Speedster from the living room, which was one of the few built as a right-hand drive, and the other two still parked in the shipping container from their trip from Australia.

A two-storage container with a Porsche 356 A Coupé on the upper level, and a 1959 Porsche 356 B Roadster with a three-liter turbo engine on the ground floor
A two-storage container with a Porsche 356 A Coupé on the upper level, and a 1959 Porsche 356 B Roadster with a three-liter turbo engine on the ground floor. Image: Porsche

The two-storage container had a Porsche 356 A Coupé on the upper level that was partially converted to a 356 Speedster with 911 parts and a 2.7-liter engine with a mechanical fuel injection pump. One the ground floor was Grahser’s personal favorite; a 1959 Porsche 356 B Roadster with a three-liter turbo engine from a 1977 Porsche 911 Turbo (Type 930).

Grahser often opened the container doors just to be near this ‘356 Roadster Turbo’.

Rally Legend Walter Röhrl's Porsche 356 Roadster Turbo

New ownership

In May 2008, Grahser dies unexpectedly and the three Porsche cars are sold to a car dealer in Stephanskirchen. They are bought by Rafael Diez who began renovating them according to Viktor Grahser’s intentions. After about 20 years in the container, the Porsche 356 roadster is widened and gets two cooling air intakes on the engine hood. The steering wheel is moved to the left side, and the car is welded together and painted.

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Rally Legend Walter Röhrl's Porsche 356 Roadster Turbo

One day, Rafael Diez talks about the project to his acquaintance, Porsche’s brand ambassador Walter Röhrl. He asks the legendary rally world champion to test drive the 356 Roadster turbo. Röhrl is hesitant at first:

“I’m a big fan of old cars, and especially the first Porsches. But I approached the rebuilt 356 B Roadster with turbo very carefully. It looked like too much had changed. So I was even more surprised at how perfectly balanced the car felt right from the beginning of the first test drive”, says Walter Röhrl of Porsche Magazine.

Porsche 930 Turbo engine in a Roadster 356

“The heavy engine behind, 260 hp but it runs smoothly and accurately and it was a lot of fun”.

Rally Legend Walter Röhrl's Porsche 356 Roadster Turbo

Röhrl decides to buy the car that Diez now named Porsche 356 3000 RR – 3000 referring to the engine displacement and RR stands for Röhrl Roadster.

The exterior is slate gray and the interior red. In addition, it has a redesigned 911 steering wheel with 356 hubs and even the instruments are reminiscent of a 911. On the engine cover, you’ll find Walter Röhrl’s four victory badges from the Monte Carlo Rally.

Walter Röhrl’s four victory badges from the Monte Carlo Rally
Walter Röhrl’s four victory badges from the Monte Carlo Rally

For Viktor Grahser, the 356 tuned up with 911 parts was intended to be his “Super Porsche”. Seeing this, we have to agree that it’s a superb mix of two different ages.

Photographer: Bernhard Huber

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