Meet the Porsche B32.
Wait? What? I hear you ask. ‘That looks like a Volkswagen T3 Transporter!’ And you’d be right.
But, when Porsche wanted to go desert raiding in the 1980s, tackling the gruelling Paris-Dakar, it needed a support vehicle that could keep pace with its fearsome 959 Group B rally car.
One solution was to transplant a Porsche V8 engine lifted straight out of the 928 into a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. We wrote about that one here, including how it not only served as a support vehicle for the race-bred 959s, but how it actually finished second in its own right at the lead-up Rallye des Pharaons in 1985.
But another solution, and one closer to staying on brand, came in the shape of the vehicle here, officially designated the Porsche B32.
It is, in other words, a genuine Porsche, complete with a Porsche Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and original German-issued paperwork identifying it as a Porsche.
Yes, it may have started life as a Volkswagen T3 Caravelle, but once the Porsche skunkworks in Welcherath near the Nürburgring got its hand on it, the end result was anything but a humble T3 Kombi.
For starters, lift the lid to the engine compartment out back and you’ll be greeted by a 3.2-litre Porsche flat-six lifted straight out of a 911 Carrera. It’s good for 170kW, a top speed of 185km/h and in the back of Kombi, a 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.0 seconds.
There’s no provenance on the engine it replaced, although its likely to have been either a 1.9-litre four-cylinder making 66kW on a good day, or the most powerful VW flat-four of the day, an 82kW 2.1-litre unit.
But more than just an engine swap, Porsche’s engineers also had to beef up the T3’s suspension to help the chassis cope with the extra power generated by the Carrera 3.2-litre out back. Bigger brakes – ventilated Porsche disks up front – were fitted as well, nestled snugly behind genuine Porsche Fuchs 16-inch wheels, while a Porsche gearbox was fitted to cope with the extra power of the flat-six.
A body kit – a spoiler up front and a modified rear diffuser designed to specifically house the Porsche engine’s exhaust plumbing – gave the B32 a tough stance on the road, while vents located behind the rear wheels add some much-needed cooling to the 3.2-litre boxer engine.
Inside, the top-spec Carat Caravelle remained largely unchanged, the only visual cue a steering wheel lifted straight out of a 911 Carrera.
It’s believed Porsche built just seven B32s, although some reports on the internet suggest anywhere up to 15 may have howled their way out of the Welcherath workshop.
The example in these photos is currently for sale in Germany, with an asking price of €364,900 or around $550,000 of our Aussie dollars.
Finished in Perl Mutter (Mother of Pearl) metallic paint, this 1985 example was built specifically for the then CEO of Porsche AG, Peter W Schutz.
As for Porsche’s Dakar campaign? Porsche 959s finished first and second in 1986 with France’s Rene Metge and Dominique Lemoine taking the flag one hour, 45 minutes ahead of teammates Jacky Ickx and Claude Brasseur.
Rob Margeit has been an automotive journalist for over 20 years, covering both motorsport and the car industry. Rob joined CarAdvice in 2016 after a long career at Australian Consolidated Press. Rob covers automotive news and car reviews while also writing in-depth feature articles on historically significant cars and auto manufacturers. He also loves discovering obscure models and researching their genesis and history.