Venturing Deep Into Enemy Territory In Italy’s Motor Valley With A Pristine Porsche 930 Turbo
Photography by Nicola Saladino
If you’re a car enthusiast, the there’s most likely a picture or a model of a Porsche Turbo somewhere in your home; a framed print or a magazine article somewhere in the stack; a scale-model under an acrylic case or a loose Hot Wheels kicking around in some closet. Few cars—and fewer now than ever—are so transcendentally cool that they can help define two different decades, such is the impact of the first Porsche Turbo, the 930. Earlier this summer, I was contacted by a friend of mine, Paolo, to meet up for a photoshoot of this 1985 example in a place where most of its arch nemesis were born: Emilia-Romagna, the “Motor Valley.”
The wide-hipped scion of Stuttgart is deep in enemy territory in this particular part of Italy, but those battles were fought decades ago on the autostrada and autobahn, and the Turbo is greeted often by the friendly flashes of oncoming headlights, a welcome visitor in the hallowed grounds ruled by Ferrari, Maserati, Dallara, Pagani, and Lamborghini.
I’m a little early to arrive at our meeting point, and Paolo wastes no time in making me feel welcome in the showroom where he works, Ruote da Sogno, which is just stuffed with good stuff. I linger on a Lancia Flaminia and an example of the ever-pretty Alfa Romeo Giulietta, but I’m here for the Porsche, and after wrapping up a few things Paolo leads me to another room where the silver bullet waits in its chamber.
As he accompanies me to the car, Paolo tells me this particular Turbo’s story, and how despite all those years that it’s been alive and loved, it has only accumulated some 10,000km on its odometer. The car’s previous owner was on the older side, and used it very sparingly, but enough to keep the bushings moving and prevent the gas from going bad. Still, it has spent most of its years on this earth in a garage rather than out on the road making new widows. Newer cars—newer Porsche Turbos included—beat this car on paper, but the boost lag makes this car’s 280hp more of an occasion once it hits you through the seat. Just because it’s not the fastest doesn’t mean it can be driven with careless ease—the Turbo is perfectly sedate for grocery getting, but few can bring one to its limits.
As soon as I see her, I can tell that the guys at Ruote da Sogno have done a fantastic job with the restoration. It’s shiny and bright, but not overly so, to the point where it actually looks like a new car from the period more so than an old car that’s been overly restored. Some cars just look right, and I think the ones that do are because of an accumulation of “correctness,” a sum of many small parts, not an inaccurate paint job with more depth than Lake Baikal. This one really brings me to the period that it was new in, and in the darkening garage in the evening light it’s easy to imagine that nothing has changed. Good cars age gracefully, but the Turbo is still more radical than it is graceful—can something like this ever be an “antique” in the same way a Model T is? How could it?
Before the sunset is fully ablaze above us, Paolo and I start up the talkative 3.3L flat-six and let the engine warm itself up for a bit before head out to the photo location. We’ve pointed the GPS to a nearby spot with an incredible panoramic terrace in the Italian Apennines about 10km from Reggio Emilia called Tre Croci (“Three Crosses”), as is plain to see. I’m excited to get out there and do my thing, but I wasn’t trying to wish time away in the passenger seat either. The almost shredding sound of the turbocharger when the boost surges and kicks you into the seat is addictive, and uniquely complex but quieter than a lot of naturally aspirated 911s I’ve experienced. The tach needle is sweeping up and down as Paolo juggles the car between hairpins and weaves it through the narrow esses in between, meanwhile I’m just planted next to him with the biggest smile on my face!
We arrive at our destination just before the colors of the sky get really intense, and the silver curves are burnished with the golden hues of the waning sunlight. It would be nice to sit down somewhere and soak in the scene in a more meditative way, but I start shooting immediately, trying to make the most of these champagne rays and long shadows as I circle the car and frame it. Between all of the magnificent warm tones, the contrasting shadows and black trim pieces , and the seriously curvaceous lines, it’s enough to think of another nickname that suits the Turbo: femme fatale. Captivating, and not to be trifled with in the slightest. Its progeny have become ever wider and more powerful, but to me the original Turbo design is the best visual manifestation of what makes a Turbo, a Turbo. It’s older, slower, but still the most compelling.
As a child who grew up with one of these on his wall (typical, I know), the chance to have an evening date with the literal poster child of coolness from my early days of falling in love with cars was like a lucid daydream. And although it might be slightly traitorous to heap praise on a German in the midst of this hallowed valley of Italian sports cars, it’s only fitting to feel a bit naughty around a car like this, isn’t it?