Car

The Hellion: 1985 Porsche 911 Turbo SE Owned by Judas Priest Guitarist Headed to Auction

The second half of the 1980s were strange days for heavy-metal practitioners Judas Priest. Led by the iron-lunged leather-and-stud poster boy Rob Halford, backed up by a pair of six-string axe slingers—blond bomber K.K. Downing to stage right and dark and mysterious Glenn Tipton to stage left—the band’s musical output had rarely ventured beyond the promise of their visages. But after more than a decade of pounding out rough-trade-inspired power chords and falsetto odes to leather and denim, the fellas began to look elsewhere for inspiration. One of those places was Porsche, and that’s where this 1985 Porsche 911 Turbo SE comes in.

As Tipton tells it, the band visited the Porsche factory in Stuttgart while on tour, and he was so impressed with the engineering and the meticulous build process that he had to have one. Later, he contacted his local U.K. dealer, Swinford Motors of Stourbridge, who informed him of the new SE derivative and arranged for him to take factory delivery of a Chiffon White 1985 Porsche 911 (930) Turbo SE while the band was on tour in Germany. The car proved so impressive to Tipton and his bandmates that it became a muse of sorts, inspiring them to collaborate on their 1986 hit “Turbo Lover” and name the album simply Turbo. The song bears the writing credits of Halford, Tipton, and Downing; one assumes the bass player and the drummer were otherwise occupied.

Equipped with the 300-hp turbocharged 3.3-liter air-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine, the SE specification includes vented rear-wheel arches, sill extensions, polished wheel rims, and special leather interior trim. It’s now more than 30 years old and the car’s 1980s roots are evident, but it somehow defies the pigeonholing of similar performance cars of the era.

Speaking with Classic Rock magazine in 2012, Halford gave a slightly more hedonistic take on the Porsche’s influence: “I hit that inevitable rock-and-roll wall and survived it. There was a lot of money flying around, it was a real pig-out in many ways, all the Porsches, all the turbo engines, everything was larger than life.” What neither Tipton or Halford mentions is how instrumental the Turbo LP was in alienating a good portion of their longtime hard-core fan base because of the addition of synthesizers (!) and less-than-inspired lyrics.

Celebrity provenance aside, the right-hand-drive vehicle shows only 14,100 miles on the odometer and is in exceptional condition. Tipton explains: “I live out in the sticks, and it has to be nice weather to take the Porsche out, so I hardly ever use it. It’s time for it to go to someone who will get some use out of it, but it’s going to be very hard to let it go.” To prepare the car for sale, Tipton sent it to a Porsche specialist, where it was fitted with new fuel injectors and a fresh MOT certification in June.

The car will cross the auction block on October 21 during the Porsche Sale by Silverstone Auctions at the Wing, Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire, England. Estimates peg the hammer price somewhere between $242,000 and $295,000.

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