Celebrity ownership doesn’t usually tend to do anything to increase a Porsche’s value at auction, unless that celebrity is Steve McQueen or others closely and famously associated with the marque. In this case, however, an exception might be made for one of the best NFL players of all time, Walter Payton (or Sweetness as he was known around the league). The record-breaking running back still ranks as one of the best, and while his records have been eclipsed, he certainly earned his place in the hall of fame. As is the case with many professional athletes, Payton loved his sports cars. He had a Lamborghini Countach, a Ferrari Testarossa, a Nissan 300ZX Turbo, and this 1979 Porsche 911 Turbo with era-appropriate Gotti wheels and few monster upgrades from Ruf (including the biggest intercooler we’ve ever seen).
While the Lambo, Ferrari, and Nissan were sold off, this Porsche was the only car he never sold. In death, Payton demanded that the 911 be kept up for his son Jarrett to receive on his 25th birthday. Payton had purchased this 930 brand new from the dealership in 1979 after five years in the NFL, and a year before Jarrett was born. To this day, the Porsche has under 10,000 miles on the odometer, and plenty of in-period aftermarket modifications (including Nakamichi speakers, an Alpine head unit, and chrome Gotti wheels) make this an incredible snapshot of a very successful man at the peak of his career.
Jarrett Payton: “This was his first sports car. This was the first big-name sports car that he bought. He bought it in 1979, the year before I was born. He got into the league in ’75, and early on, his main focus was just playing football. That focus helped him become the leading rusher with the most carries those first three years. He worked hard to ensure he had established himself, so when he was getting to the good part of his career, when the ‘80s came around, he wanted to treat himself.”
“He loved the silver on that body style. He had it to match the chrome rims on there; he just always wanted it to look super clean. He wanted the hottest thing out, and you know, I respect him because when you work hard, and you have the means to do those things, why not treat yourself? He knew the grind and the hard work being in football, not taking a day off … that’s what made the car special.”
“My dad loved music, so it was a good opportunity to drive around listening to new music together.”
Jarrett has been the caretaker of his father’s Porsche since 2005, and has given the 911 the same level of care ever since. He says that he hasn’t bonded with the car the way his father did, and wants to move it on to a collector as passionate about Payton’s legacy and historically significant automobiles as Payton was himself. He has his father’s jerseys and rings as keepsakes, and would prefer others to share in the story of the 911 Turbo. The Porsche will be offered at Mecum’s Chicago auction in Schaumburg, Illinois, as Lot S134. Payton, as you may know, wore jersey number 34, making that lot number extra significant. And being that Payton helped drive the Chicago Bears to their only Superbowl victory, giving the venue an extra level as well.