Gemballa Cyrrus | Showpiece of the Week


Today, the most garish car designs are probably those intended for wealthy customers in Asia and the Far East. But in the 1980s, it was the yuppies of Europe and America who insisted on going way beyond the point where good taste stopped. Disposable incomes were often lavished on the Porsche 911 in this period - although, for some, it was never going to be brash enough to boast about. 

Many aftermarket firms were quick to realise this, with RUF the most famous to turn the wick up on Stuttgart’s sports car and create super high-performance versions. But while the German tuner focussed its attention on the mechanicals, others chose to centre their work on altering the 911’s clean-looking design. Take Leonberg-based firm Gemballa, which was established just as yuppie culture got going in 1981, and one of its first cars: the impressively wild Cyrrus.


Just 10 versions of this ‘Flat Nose’ were produced, each bespoke to the tastes of its buyer and using the naturally-aspirated 3.2 flat-six engine of Porsche’s two-door convertible. All came wearing Testarossa-mimicking side slats, which helped channel air into the side intakes and provided space for a hidden door button. There was also an enormous rear spoiler, as well as two-part BBS alloys. Inside, you got new dials, steering wheel-mounted buttons and an eight-track cassette player. 

RUF was tasked with providing an engine upgrade, upping power to 228hp thanks to the fitment of new pistons and modifications to the head. Although no performance figures were published, cars were estimated to be good for a 0-60mph time of under six seconds and 160mph top speed – more than enough to satisfy weekend warrior trips to the Hamptons.


Of course, the transformation came at a cost, with each example costing the equivalent of about half a million pounds in today’s money. Gemballa’s creation therefore attracted the attention of a certain kind of buyer, including, most notably, the rapper Vanilla Ice, who said in a song that he “rides the groove like a Gemballa Porsche”… So enthusiastic was he for the Cyrrus that he reportedly collected his car from Gemballa HQ in Germany and later had the car repainted from blue to white.

Today’s Showpiece also comes in yuppie-spec pearlescent white with a cream leather interior, and was apparently the personal vehicle of company founder Uwe Gemballa, meaning it gets arguably the sweetest mix of upgrades applied to any of the 10 Cyrusses. Note the gold wheels with chrome dishes, the fitment of a big-bore racing exhaust and those digital dials, for example.

As arguably the most important of all ten Cyrusses made, this one is not cheap. But for someone wanting to relive the glory days - as film and TV seem to be doing endlessly - few cars typify the loadsamoney culture more accurately. To the extreme, as Vanilla himself suggested. 

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P.H. O'meter

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Comments (45) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Quickben 6 days ago

    Properly hideous. Suits the 80's to a tee.

  • P-Jay 6 days ago

    Well... that's revolting.

  • dudleybloke 6 days ago

    It's certainly of its time.

  • Chuck328 6 days ago

    I expected to see the word 'replica'.

    I'm sure someone will like it.

  • julian64 6 days ago

    While I think its hard to make a Porsche look more ugly, I think this actually manages it.

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