it was at that exact moment, for reasons unknown, when the Rothman's limited edition 944 flashed in front of my mind's eye. it's the cross I bear I suppose; my obsession with Porsche history is such that random vignettes of it suddenly appear at the oddest moments—like this one; while reading the exploits of Bukowski in his book entitled Women.
Sonauto typed in helvetica leapt off the page. ah. it all came back to me now.
from there, things took a unique twist roughly two decades later in 1971 when a guy by the name of Norbert Wagner became Mssr. Veuillet's assistant. two years later, Mssr. Wagner, who also happens to be Ferdinand Porsche's petit-neveu, great nephew, became president of Sonauto which was at that point a 100% subsidiary of Porsche. I'm giving you the abbreviated version here.
now the 944 had been on sale in France for three years during which Porsche was enjoying a series of successes that included both the World Endurance Championship for Manufacturers and Drivers in 1982 with Jacky Ickx winning the title behind the wheel of a Porsche 956, doing it all over again for the 1983 season.
if I were to tell you that Porsche repeated 1982's performance at Le Mans in '83, you'd think I was joking. using the 956 again, the pot of drivers was stirred yielding Vern Schuppan, Al Holbert, and Hurley Haywood bringing the number 3 car in first while Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell partnered in bringing the number 1 956 in second.
then in 1984, René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne brought the all-wheel drive Porsche 911 SC/RS, known as the 953, to the finish first at the 6th running of the Paris-Dakar Rally earning the marque some serious brand recognition.
aside from prevailing the most important racing circuits, the 956s and 953 had one thing in common; their sponsorship by the legendary English tobacco manufacturer founded in London c. 1890—Rothmans.
their Alpine White dress would be adorned with a subtle pinstripe of blue, gold and red with a commemorative plaque with the Porsche crest off to the right with Team Rothmans underscored by Porsche to the left of it while directly below was the number of the car in the series. this little brushed brass-like appliqué reminded you that this was no ordinary 944 your bottom had the honor to be embraced by its seats, regardless if what lied under the hood was the same untouched lump found in any other 944.
so is this all there is to this serié limitée, just a bit of pin-striping on white paint and a plaque to justify an extra FF29,500 over the FF170,000 regular 944? hardly; for a mere USD$7,857 in 2015 dollars you also got 7 x 15 Teledials, 215/60 VR 15, a beefier 23mm front sway bar instead of 20mm (option M404), 14mm rear sway bar (standard fare), sport shocks front and rear (M474), a rear wiper, an alarm, fog lamps, white front bumperettes and rear bumper impact strip, Porsche emblazoned boxed rockers, and a vented rear valence which at prima facie reminds one of 356 Carrera 2. the latter two were also offered under the Porsche 'Exclusive" program.
inside, well, let's have a look. sport seats clothed in black with white pinstripe (some call it 'tennis') that accentuate the massive side bolsters promising a snug fit, door panels and rear seats in matching fabric, a 363mm four spoke leather wrapped steering wheel option M431, and luxurious looking beige carpeting to match the beige piping on the seats. it all ties in together nicely on the inside.
of course, the options one could've added were limitless and further increases the individuality of each car—the passenger side mirror and radio were possibly the most popular.
just how many survived since being rolled out in May of 1984 is anyone's guess really. the two that I did find, N° 013 and N° 036, look rather well preserved, although N° 013 was a bit altered and devoid of it's characteristics. initially, I was dismissive with a roll of the eyes thinking that this mildly interesting 944 was yet another bit of marketing gimmickry or possibly a 'filler' or 'stop gap' model while France awaited the 1985 version of the 944 that offered power steering as standard and a sexier dash mid year; maybe even as a tool to blow on the embers a bit to stimulate sales especially in light of rising 911 prices and the German Metalworkers Union five week strike centered in Stuttgart in the spring of 1984 that cost Porsche an estimated 5,660 cars delaying the start of the 1985 model year to October of '85. right now, however, my thoughts are more enthusiastic, especially after writing about them.
it's a cool car, really. Rothmans played a very large part promoting Porsche by funding its racing program and subsequent domination, and who with a penchant for the unremembered 80's wouldn't fondly recall the legendary blue/white livery as it blurred by in staccato of a cheering crowd.
goddamn, those were marvelous times of excess...what better memento than this obscure version?
special thanks to Porsche Club France and Abegnon for helping to keep the flame of these rare pieces of Porsche history roaring.
sources: www.924-944-968porscheclub.fr, aebergon.perso.neuf.fr, digitaldtour.com, www2.yamaha-motor.fr, www.motorlegend.com,
Porsche 944 Team Rothmans
Limited Edition, number 13 (displayed in numbered plate on dashboard) one of the early models, from a total of 100 limited units produced, that are believed to remain nowadays less than 40 worldwide.
Engine 4 cylinder in-line 2.5 with 163 hp
Sport shock absorbers
15" alloy phone dial wheels
Frontal, lateral and rear skirts
Yellow fog lights
Registration: August 1984
Seats in sportive Tennis design fabric
Radio CD player Sony CDX-M700R, with remote control, and black retractile screen.
• One of 100 of the Team Rothmans special edition Porsche 944 Coupes
• All original car from the 1st French ownership, original paint
• Fully documented with service book and maintenance records
• New Porsche service with new tires lately done
• Matching numbers
• A collector’s item or a wonderful driving machine for little money
Porsche 944 Rothmans Limited Edition €29,800 (USD$31,280)
Here is a very rare vehicle for Porsche collector for sale. This is the no. 36 of only 100 built Porsche 944 Rothmans of the limited edition. The vehicle features an incredibly well-maintained original condition. The Porsche is the original finish with very few signs of use. The interior is also comparable to that of a year-old car. There are all documentation delivered today incl. The new car invoice. The board wallet is complete and the mileage is accounted for.The driving characteristics are not to be underestimated, so the 944 was very successful in racing. This vehicle is located exactly and tight as the first day. There are no work on the timing belt and has also recently been changed. If you are interested in the Porsche, you would call me to arrange a viewing. This vehicle is offered by customer order and can be viewed by appointment at Hamburg. Subject to errors and prior sale. The vehicle description shall not be deemed guaranteed.