Porsche 911 gets practical
Looks like a typical VW T3, right? Well, it’s not. Between 1983 and 1985, Porsche dropped 911 engines into Volkswagen’s Microbus.
The Volkswagen T3 was a popular vehicle across the globe, but South Africans absolutely loved it. The T3 (called the Transporter) in Europe, was built in Germany from 1979 to 1990. In South Africa, however, production of the T3 (it was called the Microbus here) continued all the way to 2002.
Despite the status of the T3 as a local icon, though, you’ve probably never heard of Porsche’s version of the bus. Its name, the B32, was drab and uninteresting, nothing more than an internal production code. Its looks didn’t offer much excitement, either. It looked almost exactly like a standard T3. The only thing that hinted at its pedigree was a set of black Porsche 911 rims.
But, while the B32 didn’t look like much, you would undoubtedly have heard it coming. Under the bonnet (well, technically, under the luggage area in the rear), it boasted a 3 164cc six-cylinder 911 engine. In the B32, the flat-six engine offered 170kW of power and 250Nm of torque, and allowed the Microbus to reach a top speed of 185km/h. It could go from 0–100km/h in eight seconds flat.
To handle all that extra oomph, the B32 received bigger brakes (obviously), upgraded suspension components and the gearbox from a 911 SC. As mentioned, it also received new rims and sportier rubber. On the inside, it was kept pretty standard, but it did get a Carrera steering wheel and the 911 SC shifter that went with the gearbox.
So, why did Porsche build this thing? It was officially created to act as a support vehicle during the Dakar Rally, where Porsche was racing its 959 in Group B, but it also popped up in other places. It’s reported, for instance, that Mrs Porsche (wife of Ferdinand) used a practical and spacious B32 to complete her daily errands.
It’s not clear how many of these things Porsche built, though it seems to be somewhere between 10 and 15. Sadly, it was never a production model. Porsche never sold these, but it did apparently inspire a few Microbus owners to drop a 911 engine into their own vehicles.
You’ll also be glad to hear that they’re still around. Porsche has a couple, which have been restored to look and run much like they did back in the mid-1980s. With the Cayenne selling well, perhaps it’s time Porsche started looking at what it could do with a modern VW Kombi or Caddy…
Country of origin: Germany
Years made: 1983 to 1985
Body style: Van
Engine: 911 flat-six
Capacity: 3 164cc
Power: 170 kW
Gearbox: 911 SC manual gearbox
Text: GG van Rooyen