Porsche Once Made a Van With the Heart Of a 911

VW T3 B32

Image: Porsche Centrum Gelderland

Porsche has never been one to shy away from making rare models. We’re talking models where less than 10 have been produced, like the 964 Turbo Cabriolet and the 993 Speedster. Among these rarities is a particular Porsche that wasn’t actually a Porsche at all: the VW T3 B32. It doesn’t look like a Porsche, it’s not badged as a Porsche, but it will definitely sound, like a Porsche.

In 1986, Porsche was fielding two 959s in the Paris Dakar Rally driven by two teams: René Metge partnered with Dominique Lemoyne in one, and Jacky Ickx with Claude Brasseur in the other. And while these 959s were engineered to be off-road beasts, capable of handling the toughest rally in the world, they were still quick. With a 2.8-liter 400 horsepower flat-6, not much could keep up with them, including support vehicles. Porsche did have a third 959 on hand, which was considered for use as a support vehicle, but the team needed something both bigger and fast.

Something else Porsche had on hand was a VW T3 van. Unfortunately, they were hilariously slow, and couldn’t keep up with the fast-paced nature of the race, where like every race, every minute counts. So rather than look for another vehicle or try and make do with what they had, Porsche engineers set to do what any gearhead would do and modded the T3 vans to work with their needs.

VW T3 B32 engine

Image: Porsche Centrum Gelderland

While standard T3s were available with an array of engines, ranging from 1.6-liter flat fours and I4’s all the way up to a 2.6-liter I5, they were all slow. So rather than mod the existing engine, Porsche took a 288 hp flat-six from a 911 3.2 Carrera and dropped it in the engine bay. Engineers then mated that flat six with a Porsche transmission that routed power to the rear wheels. And since this was meant to keep up with rally racing, engineers also gave the T3 a unique suspension setup and bigger brakes. It was said to have a top speed of only 116 mph, but in reality, it was around 135 mph.

VW T3 B32

Image: Porsche Centrum Gelderland

While someone quickly glancing at a VW T3 B32 might not be able to tell it apart from a regular T3, Porsche did a few things to distinguish it. There were larger 16-inch wheels with Fuchs rims, additional side vents to cool the bigger engine, front and rear skirts, and a larger exhaust.

VW T3 B32 interior

Image: Porsche Centrum Gelderland

Inside there was a full leather interior, a Porsche badge on the steering wheel, and auxiliary gauges under the center console, behind the shifter.

While it’s not known whether or not this thing ever had any production intent, it’s believed that just seven examples of the T3 B32 were ever made. While it wasn’t publicly sold, some ended up in private hands, special customers who had a relationship with Porsche. A few of these even have Porsche VINs. And some are available for sale.

The example you see above is one that’s listed for sale at a Porsche dealer: Porsche Centrum Gelderland. It’s currently listed at €364,900, which with the current exchange rates to the U.S. dollar, that’s over $375,700. It’s in need of a bit of restoration as there’s some wear here and there, but other than that it looks great. While the years have given us Porsche SUVs and a sedan, we may never see anything like a Porsche van again.


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