In celebration of the legendary racer and rallyist Walter Röhrl turning 74 years old, and the anniversary of the Walter and co-driver Christian Geistdörfer entering the 1981 German Rally Championship, Porsche recently completed the restoration of the car which took them there. The only season in which Walter rallied for Porsche, he entered this 924 Carrera GTS rally car. That season Walter, Christian, and the Carrera GTS took four stage rally victories together, but thanks to a handful of failures, they lost out on the overall championship points and had to settle for second place trophy. The black and gold Monnet car has become a legend of the sport in the subsequent years, and a true piece of Porsche history.
At the time Walter drove this car, it was the most expensive Porsche ever produced. Only 50 of these were built to homologate the car for Group 4 competition, and all of them were painted Indiarot. The standard GTS produced 237 horsepower from its canted-over Audi-based turbocharged inline four-cylinder. The more race-ready Clubsport variant produced 271 horses from the same motor. Röhrl’s racer was one of nine additional prototypes built specifically for factory racing efforts, and while it started the season with around 250 horsepower, the boost kept creeping up as the season progressed. This particular model was equipped with skid plates under the engine and gearbox, and was force fed gasoline from a 928 fuel distributor.
The restoration of this car was undertaken by the good folks at Porsche’s historic motor racing department in Weissach. Coincidentally, it was the same exact garage stall in which the car was built originally, way back in late 1980. The idea for this restoration was preservation. The specialists wanted to maintain as much of the original car intact, to keep it as it was when Walter and Christian won those four events in 1981. This is an extremely low mile example, with just about 6500 miles on the odometer, but they’re extremely hard miles. The car was driven in rain, snow, gravel, dirt, and tarmac, mostly at full throttle. The restoration team made sure it was still clear that the car was built for the purpose of bombing down dirt roads, and kept some of those scars of the car’s former life. The car even features its original racing harnesses embroidered with R for Röhrl on the driver’s side, and CG for Christian Geistdörfer on the passenger’s side.
In period the black and gold car was actually repainted in blue, thanks to a livery change to Gitanes cigarette sponsorship, and continued to race. The restoration team decided it would be best to return it to its most significant period, when it won its rallies and had a legendary driver manning the tiller. Thus, the gold and black of the Monnet cognac sponsorship.
Kuno Werner, the head of the Porsche museum’s workshop, admitted it was quite difficult to keep the project a secret from Walter. Many Porsche employees maintain a close relationship with Röhrl, but it still managed to be a stellar surprise for the man’s 74th trip around the sun.
“It was a huge surprise for me,” said Röhrl upon seeing the 924. “I stepped out of the car 40 years ago and haven’t sat in it again since. For me, it’s a journey back in time. I immediately feel 40 years younger.”