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Car Tales: The Rallying Force Of The Porsche T/R

Known as ‘Twinkletoes’ to his many Irish fans – ‘on account of the white boots I always wore’ – Brian Powley is one of the unsung heroes of UK and Irish motor rallying, as well as various successful European outings. ‘I had a cult following in Ireland,’ he says. ‘The fun part of it was the element. If it became too serious I didn’t want to know.’
1989 Porsche 930 Turbo for sale
‘We have recently acquired Brian’s beautiful 1989 Porsche 930 Turbo, one from the last year of the model’s production. The Porsche 930 Turbo was the maker’s top-of-the-range 911 model for its entire production duration and, at the time of its introduction, was the fastest production car available in Germany. The 1989 models were the first and last versions of the 930 to feature the highly desirable Getrag G50 five-speed manual transmission.

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‘But this beautiful machine was never used by Brian as a rally-car, which activity became a personal quest. ‘It was the only sport at which I really excelled. And one that I found I didn’t really need to practice.’ The reality was that Brian Powley simply loved driving fast, being behind the wheel of a gloriously crafted man-machine. The tales come thick and fast: ‘We were doing 141 mph in the dark alongside the lake in the International Lakes Rally in Ireland, which became the jewel in the crown of Irish rallying. We were coming down the mountain and saw the red lights of the lead car. I caught him a quarter mile from the end of the race. And I had to pass him. And did.’
1989 Porsche 930 Turbo front
‘The 1970s was a golden age for motor-rallying, especially in the UK and in Ireland, where the sport is second only in popularity to horse-racing. Audience figures of 100,000 or more were regular at, for example, that International Rally of the Lakes, hinged around Killarney, the town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland.
‘In the days when Brian Powley was racing it, at first in his personally built Mini Cooper S, the event was held in the depths of winter – icy road surfaces frequently a hazard – as the finale to the Irish Tarmac Championship.
‘Later Brian acquired a Porsche T/R, the race-tuned variant of the 911; only 35 of these beauties were built, and only three of these had right-hand drive – Brian’s was one of them. ‘Paddy McNally sold me his T/R. And he’d raced it for a couple of years.’ Patrick McNally worked alongside Bernie Ecclestone, who ran Formula One. In 2006 McNally sold his company to Ecclestone, for a reputed £260 million.
‘A farmer’s son from Cheshire outside Liverpool, Brian Powley started rallying in 1972 and continued to do so for the next twenty-seven years. (Liverpool, which for a time rivaled London as the capital of Swinging England, features significantly in his story. Brian first saw the Beatles in 1963 and for a time worked alongside Harry Harrison, Beatle George’s brother.
Brian Powley motor rallying
‘One night I came back from from this nightclub called the Odd Spot in Liverpool. I’d picked up a girl and we stopped at the Wimpy bar [an early chain of UK hamburger joints] in the suburb of Bromborough and in came Paul and Linda McCartney with their kids, (who I thought were a bit rowdy).’
‘At first Brian competed in a Mini Cooper S, that archetypal symbol of the Swinging Sixties, that he had built himself at the family Cheshire farm into a rally car. For his second ever rally he competed in the Wales World’s End rally, one of the oldest on the calendar having been first run in 1932, coming 10th.
‘The World’s End rally sees drivers take on fast tree-lined forest tracks, often made technically difficult by wet and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain and fog as well as snow and ice, thrown into the mix. So such a position in only his second rally was quite an achievement. And so it continued: ‘I would do night-time motoring events, driving 200 or so miles’.
‘Even in the wet, which in fact I really liked: the Mini Cooper S was extremely nimble in the wet.’
‘Acquiring his Porsche 911 T/R in the mid-1980s, Brian Powley raced and rallied the car for fourteen years. At Dublin’s Phoenix Park, on the Grand Prix circuit, he came second. At the German world rally championship he took the same position to his friend Armin Schwarz, who was driving a Lancia. Moving to the United States he took part in the T/R in Georgia’s Le Petit Le Mans.
‘Years after Brian Powley had sold his 911 T/R it was again sold in London three years ago by Maxted & Page, for £875,000. Brian Powley is still a collector of high end beautiful cars. At present, among others, he has an Aston Martin DB9, a 1980 Rolls Royce Corniche Coupe, and ‘a beautiful Bentley 97 Brooklands trophy edition – only made 28 of them, I’ve got the blue one.’
Brian Powley Porsche 911 rally
‘Brian’s rallying life, it seems, was one of this quiet legend’s true high spots: ‘I had some bloody good fun: the rallying social life was tremendous.’
‘So it would seem: Brian has been married seven times.
-Alex Manos, Owner
Porsche 930 TR Buyer Alex Manos

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