What do you usually treat yourself to on your own birthday? Special dinner? Gathering with friends over a confectionery with lit candles? How about working with a manufacturer to build yourself a one of a kind performance car? Well, that’s what 1985 Le Mans overall winner, Paolo Barilla, did for his 60th birthday by designing a Porsche 911 (992) GT3 in the same livery and design as his 1985 Team Joest New Man Jeans Porsche 956B.
Italian Food Roots and Racing
You’ll probably know Paolo’s last name very well as his family name, Barilla, is a multinational Italian food producer and best known for their blue boxes filled with dry pasta. This has been his family’s business since 1877, and he joined them when he retired from motorsports in 1990. He briefly became CEO in 1999 until 2000, when he permanently became Barilla’s Deputy Chairman.
Paolo’s racing career started in 1975 in 100cc karts—winning the 1976 title—before moving on to Formula Fiat Abarth, Formula 3, and the Minardi team in Formula 2 in 1982. Between 1983-1988, Barilla decided to compete solely in sports cars and that culminated in his 1985 Le Mans win in the Team Joest 956B you see here. That victory was decisive, as he won by three laps over the second place finisher, which was another 956.
Involvement Beyond Being a Customer
Today, to celebrate his 60 years and that 1985 Le Mans victory, Paolo reached out to the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur team through the Sonderwunch—German for “special request”—program to build a 911 GT3 that pays tribute to that special 956. “In the ’80s, I had the chance to drive the wonderful Porsche 956, an iconic car in terms of performance and beauty,” said Paolo, “The interpretation of some elements in a modern GT3 makes that memory exciting and vital—for me and for people who are close to me.”
Paolo was also so involved with the tribute project that he was also given his own ID badge by Porsche. “Paolo Barilla was very pleased about this detail,” said Philipp Setter, Head of Sonderwunsch Customer Consultation at Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur. “When the Porsche works ID was handed over in person, he officially became part of the team and our Porsche family.”
Paint by Laser
There are touches of the old 956 that Paolo raced in 1985 in this modern 992. The first you’ll immediately recognize is its livery of Summer Yellow—a part of the extensive “Color of Choice” paints of the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur program—on the body with white and black stripes in the same design as the 1985 Le Mans winner, including the “7” on the door. “I originally wanted to move the race numbers on the doors further towards the center of the white strip,” said Grant Larson, who designed the first Boxster and is currently the Director of Special Projects at Style Porsche, “but Paolo Barilla insisted that the ‘7’ should be very close to the edge, like on his racing car.”
Considering the differences in size and shape of each car, the livery from the flatter 956 was first virtually laid on a predecessor 991 GT3 test body using lasers. The unique livery was then painted on the tester three different times until both Larson and Paolo were satisfied with the end result. We must say it’s very similar and a beautiful rendition of the 956 on the final version of this 992 GT3.
That wasn’t the only part of the tribute, either. The wheels were also painted to match what the 1985 Le Mans winner used when it was in action. While the 956 you see in these pictures doesn’t feature them—the 956B here is wearing a set of Speedline center lock wheels—it did run with a set of aeroblades on the front BBS center lock wheels, which was the fashionable (and functional) choice in this era of sports racers. Those discs were painted white while the rear wheels were painted in the classic gold color that the “basket weave” BBS wheels are most famously known for.
The modern rendition uses the center lock GT3 wheels in 20 inch front and 21 inch rear that are painted in white and gold to match this feature. Also, rather than use Dunlop tires as the original 956B did, the tribute 992 GT3 wears Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires in 255/35ZR20 front and 315/30ZR21 rear.
Unique Rear Wing
Another feature that Paolo wanted in this 992 GT3 was something that matched the rear wing of the 956B. Unfortunately, an exact match couldn’t be created, but what Porsche created is both functional and reminiscent of the old design. As Porsche wanted to retain the front and rear aero balance, the end plates are engineered to look just like the end plates and rear body of the 956B without losing that particular GT3 aerodynamic feature.
The tribute endplates are far longer than the standard 992 GT3’s, and the bottom of the end plates jut out to match the same angles as the classic Porsche sports racer. However, the rest of the rear wing remains just as the GT3 was originally designed for, including the swan neck mounting and duck tail spoiler on the engine cover.
Those aren’t the only unique features on the outside of this 992. The front fascia features that Summer Yellow color on its apron and on the headlight trim rings. The B-pillars have plaques with Paolo’s signature and the Italian flag, signifying his birth country, and the door sill plates celebrate his 1985 Le Mans win with “956” and a silhouette of the winning car just above that.
992 GT3 Interior With Celebratory Touches
Inside, it’s all GT3 with a racecar inspired interior with an all-black treatment on the leather and with black suede on the steering wheel and shift boot. Just in front of the black half-cage are the GT3 seats with headrests that have the old Mulsanne Straight version of the track and “1985 Le Mans” embroidered into them in Summer Yellow. The tribute logo of the door sills is also found on the passenger side dashboard in Summer Yellow, along with the centering locating stripe on the top rim of the steering wheel. The shift knob is made from a piece of aluminum that was CNC machined and sanded down to recreate the shape and look of the magnesium one found in the 956B.
We have to say, it’s an amazing looking tribute and on a version of the 911 that deserves it. This modern machine also owes many thanks to Paolo himself, with his overall and crucial victory at Le Mans in 1985 in the car this 992 911 GT3 is designed after. Wonder if he’ll take it for a spin around the circuit in the near future, for old time’s sake.
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