Exactly 25 years ago in 1993, a contract was signed that, in the intervening years, has turned into a real affair of the heart for both parties.
All those years ago, Porsche enlisted the four-time winner of the Monte Carlo Rally and two-time Rally World Champion as a developer and representative. But by 1993, Walter Röhrl was already looking back on an eventful relationship with the famed automaker.
His first car was a used Porsche 356, and after that a Porsche 911 always featured in his private collection. In 1977, his personal 911 rally car paved the way for a contract with the Fiat team, and by 1981, Walter Röhrl was sitting at the starting line of the German Rally Championship in a Porsche 924.
Even at this point in his exceptional rally career, Röhrl was involved in the development of Porsche’s 959 super sports car and the all-wheel drive technology for the 964.
When the contract was signed at the beginning of 1993 to engage him as a representative and development driver, there was one condition: Röhrl would ensure that former chairman Dr Wendelin Wiedeking “was always told the unvarnished truth about new developments.”
Since then, Röhrl has participated in the development and fine-tuning of several milestone models, from the 959 and the Carrera GT to the 918 Hybrid, all 911 and GT versions, as well as the Panamera.
The 70-year-old from Regensburg abides by the old agreement to this day. Walter Röhrl always says what he thinks: “I have learnt a very important lesson during my time at Porsche – the top handling performance that we demand from a sports car when pushed to the limits is about more than what professional drivers need. Ideally, the sports car must be easy to control for ordinary drivers, too.”
Oliver Blume, chairman of the executive board at Porsche AG, explains: “At Porsche, we don’t just need to thank Walter Röhrl for his unique 25 years of loyalty as a representative and advisor, but also for his expressions, which have long since become aphorisms. I like this one: ‘a garage without a Porsche 911 is just a dark hole’.”
Read Walter Rohrl’s thoughts about turbocharged 911s, driving aids and the art of driving quickly.