911 Porsche World
As the decade of mullets and the ZX Spectrum got underway, the 911 Turbo (930) was widely regarded as the ultimate sports car, but a new dawn of automotive design and tuning was about to be unleashed, taking the turbocharged 911 to a new level of exotica.
One of the key players in this new era of excess was Uwe Gemballa, a German car modifier who’d successfully established a company producing bespoke automotive interiors for AMG. “The business started as a hobby for my father to earn enough money to finance his love of motorcycle racing,” explains Uwe’s son, Marc. “The work involved the creation of bespoke incar entertainment packages, chiefly those featuring bucketloads of Pioneer audio equipment. The electronics giant even used Gemballa installs in its advertising and promotional literature.” Positive reaction to subsequent Gemballa design studies commissioned by BMW and Porsche encouraged Uwe to produce a turnkey sports car based on the Carrera 3.2. The result was the Avalanche.
Along with Gemballa’s trademark mix of state-of-the-art electronics and lashings of leather, the Avalanche featured eye-popping bodywork dominated by an extended rear wing, deep side skirts, pearlescent paint and side strakes big enough to make the Ferrari Testarossa jealous. Door handles were replaced by soft-touch buttons, while a toothy front bumper owed more to the design of the early 928 than the Carrera 3.2. Anything but subtle and rolling on huge BBS split rims, this striking, limited-volume flatnose was a big hit with the ‘new money’ crowd when launched in 1986.
The 3.2-litre flat-sixes in early Gemballas were given a lift to almost 230bhp, but the best was yet to come — the 930 quickly became the base model of choice for Uwe to play with. 375bhp Ruf-tuned engines married exaggerated power with equally extraordinary style, elevating Gemballa 911s into the pop culture stratosphere.
Like or loathe it, the Avalanche is a true 1980s icon and is now regarded as highly sought-after collector car. ●