It pays to be a friend of Porsche. For members of the Porsche family and for the brand’s best customers, there is almost nothing the German automaker will not do. You want cognac glass holders and a gun rack in your 911? No problem. Gold tailpipes on your gold 959? Yes, sir. You want to turn a racecar into a road-legal one-off dream machine? If you insist.
Porsche’s semi-secret Sonderwunsch (Special Request) program built all of those cars and more beginning in the late 1970s. Jerry Seinfeld, a noted Porsche geek, commissioned a few of them. Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche was given one as a birthday present. Today, the value of these one-offs — sometimes known as “family cars” — are almost incalculable. Some are in Porsche’s own museum, while others are likely still secret, probably hidden away by their owners in hermetically-sealed climate-controlled garages.
Now, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you too can now get the full Porsche-family-member VIP treatment. The company recently announced it is reviving the Sonderwunsch program and opening it up to the public. Today, as in the 1970s, there is almost nothing the Porsche won’t do, explains Boris Apenbrink, director of Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur. Almost. “We would be, of course, cautious with guns today probably,” Apenbrink says. (He also confirms Porsche really did build cars with built-in fridges, cognac glass holders, and gun racks in the 1970s.)
The bad news? Porsche will only build three to five of these one-off Sonderwunsch cars per year, so you had better have an excellent relationship with your local Porsche dealer. The builds can be based on a current Porsche model, or a classic one, and Apenbrink says prices will start around €500,000 and climb to over a million. Depending on whether the car is new or old, the project with either be handled by Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur or Porsche Classic. The price will ultimately depend on how much technical work you want done; new bodywork, tweaked suspension, and a highly-tuned engine will be much more costly than a unique livery and some custom bolt-on bits.
Commissioning a one-off dream car is a bit like building a house, explains Ulrike Lutz, director of Porsche Classic. (It’s roughly the same price too.) Just as you’d hire an architect, builders, and designers to create your dream home, clients of the revived Sonderwunsch program are effectively hiring a crew of Porsche engineers, designers, and craftspeople to turn a vision into reality. Clients will even be given a keycard, so they can get into the Porsche factory as needed.
“This bespoke approach is our future,” says Marc Ouayoun, president and chief executive of Porsche Cars Canada. The pleasure in owning a Porsche does not come just from the driving, he explains; it starts the moment you open the garage door and grants entrance into a whole community. “[A Porsche] is an object, it’s a piece of art,” Ouayoun says. “It’s why we see people asking for more and more personalization; they want a car that is really made for them.”
While €1 million is no small sum, given the way one-off factory-built Porsche sports cars tend to appreciate in value, building your dream car might not be such a bad investment — provided you have good taste. To celebrate the revival of the Porsche Sonderwunsch program, we dug through the archives to pick out our favourite one-off cars from Porsche’s past.
1983 Porsche 911 Type 930/935 Turbo Coupe
Built For: Mansour Ojjeh of Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG)
The Story: Clearly, Mansour Ojjeh has impeccable taste. Not only was he one of the driving forces behind the McLaren F1 supercar, he also commissioned this jaw-dropping one-off factory-built 1983 Porsche 911 Turbo. It wears the flat-nose bodywork of the 935 racecar, but with pop-up headlights and everything else you’d need to make it road legal. Every inch of the cabin is trimmed in leather and wood. The original Turbo had a reputation as a tricky thing to drive, but Ojjeh opted for even more power; the engine was tuned to produce 375 hp, 25 per cent more than the stock motor. Yikes.
2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS “Ducktail”
Built For: Jerry Seinfeld
The Story: Jerry Seinfeld is a funny guy, a fashion icon, and a noted Porsche collector. (He has two cars on this list.) The 991.1 GT3 RS was introduced in 2015, and so, naturally, Seinfeld ordered one. Then, he went and spent an additional $250,000 USD on extras and “Special Request” custom options. The Liquid Chrome Blue Metallic is a paint-to-sample colour, also apparently offered on the 918 Spyder supercar. Seinfeld had the good sense to ask Porsche to make the huge rear-wing removable. Without it, the car has the classic “ducktail” rear end of 911s past. It’s as close as you’ll get to an official 911 GT3 RS Touring – and it’s spectacular.
1995 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet
Built For: Kaspar Haberl’s MAHAG Porsche distributorship in Munich
The Story: Only 14 of these were made, all for Haberl’s Porsche dealerships. At the time, Porsche didn’t have a drop-top 911 Turbo in the lineup, which Haberl felt was a lost opportunity. He brought this up with Porsche, which agreed to build him a Turbo Cabriolet so long as he ordered at least 10 cars. The engine and five-speed transmission were from the older 1994 964 Turbo, while the body and chassis are based on the newer 1995 993 Cabriolet. One of these rare ’95 Turbo Cabriolets was auctioned by R.M. Sotheby’s in 2017, fetching €1.3 million.
1995 Porsche 911 Carrera Speedster
Built For: Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche (and also Jerry Seinfeld)
The Story: For his 60th birthday, Butzi Porsche — the eldest son of company founder Ferry Porsche — was given an excellent present. The company built him a car which didn’t exist: a 993-gen Porsche 911 Speedster. Porsche’s clever engineers managed to marry a new Carrera 2 Cabriolet with the Speedster-style windshield and rear deck from the earlier 964-generation Speedster. In 1998, Seinfeld decided he wanted one too, and Porsche obliged. Seinfeld’s 993 Speedster was built on an all-wheel drive 4S chassis and fitted with a manual transmission.
1993 Porsche 911 Turbo S “Family Green”
Built For: Dr. Wolfgang Porsche
The story: It was Dr. Wolfgang Porsche’s older brother, Butzi Porsche, who came up with design for the original Porsche 911. Butzi always said cars shouldn’t have many frills, hence the 911’s brilliant simplicity. In the video below, Dr. Wolfgang lists his top five favourite cars, and among them is his own personal one-off 1993 911 Turbo S. Even though it’s not as radical as some of the other builds on this list, we love it for its lack of frills. The “family green” paint was a favourite of Wolfgang’s father and the wood-trimmed interior is a perfect counterpoint. This is one of the last 911s with an air-cooled motor and it sounds spectacular. “It’s an incredible car,” says Wolfgang.