Walter Payton’s 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo to Headline Mecum Chicago Auction

Walter Payton’s 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo to Headline Mecum Chicago Auction

Purchased New by NFL Legend Walter Payton

As one of the top-rated running backs in the NFL’s nearly 100-year history, the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton is an undeniable legend, and so were his cars. The very first collector car he ever purchased, his professed favorite and the one he owned the longest is now slated to cross the Mecum auction block at the company’s Chicago 2018 auction this October 25-27. Payton’s stunning silver 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo is now owned by his son Jarrett. Payton left the car to Jarrett in his will, and while Jarrett has happily cared for the car since, it’s now his desire to pass the Turbo onto someone who not only looks up to the great Walter Payton as he does, but someone who also cherishes great classic autos in the same way his dad did.

Equipped with the original 3.3L/265 HP turbocharged flat-6 engine, 4-speed transmission and showing just 9,950 miles on the odometer, the car is in stunning condition. It’s original silver paint still gleams brilliantly in the sunlight, and its black leather interior is free of obvious wear. A sunroof and air conditioning provide comfort for riders, and carbon-fiber dash inlays elevate the interior’s appearance to one befitting of a modern-day supercar

Engine 3.3/265 HP 
Trans 4-Speed 
Color Silver 
Interior Black

Cared for by Walter Payton until his death in 1999
Bequeathed to his son, Jarrett Payton from his father's estate
Owned by Jarrett Payton ever since
Retains Walter Payton's 'Sweetness' license plate bracket and Illinois WP license plates
Photos of Walter Payton with the car included
Walter Payton lead the Chicago Bears to their first and only Super Bowl Victory during the 1985-1986 season
By the time he retired from his 13-year career with the Chicago Bears, Walter Payton set NFL records for most rushing yards in one game (275), most career rushing yards (16,726), most career rushing attempts (3,838) and most games with 100 yards rushing (77)
1 of 1,200 Porsche 930 Turbos produced for the U.S. Market in 1979
9,950 miles miles since new
Turbocharged 3.3/265 HP 6-cylinder engine
Upgraded Ruf intercooler
Borla stainless exhaust

There is almost no denying that the late Walter “Sweetness” Payton is among the top three running backs in all of the NFL’s nearly 100-year history. Whether judging only on stats, records and awards won, or instead taking a more holistic approach and additionally considering a player’s innovation on the field as well as his conduct on and off of it, Payton’s position near or at the top of the best-of-all-time list nevertheless remains a constant. Payton was also an avid auto enthusiast and racing hobbyist who maintained a modestly sized collection of investment-grade cars throughout his most successful years in the league, and now, his son, Jarrett, will offer the first one his father ever purchased and his declared favorite, a 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo at Mecum’s Chicago auction this October 25-27.

Running back for the Chicago Bears wearing jersey No. 34 for 13 consecutive seasons, Payton’s record-setting stats catapulted him to the top of the league in standings, but it was more than Payton’s performance on the field that cemented him into the hearts of millions as a darling of the Midwest, and of course of Bears’ fans in particular. Payton’s unique, aggressive and unflinching style of play garnered attention early on. As a general rule, and quite unlike other running backs and professional football players overall, Payton didn’t believe in going out of bounds to avoid a hit. He was known to run right through tackle attempts, dodge around them or even to clear them entirely with a hurdling-style leap over players as they dove for his waist. He showed no fear on the field, and that grit added up to a career rushing total of 16,726 yards, which broke the record for most rushing yards by any NFL player in history. He also scored 110 touchdowns, caught 492 passes for 4,538 yards and 15 touchdowns, and earned nine Pro Bowl selections during his Hall of Fame career. While the Bears have historically fallen short of Super Bowl contention, Payton helped take the team to its one and only Super Bowl win in 1985 earning him the NFC Offensive Player of the Year award for the second time.

Off the field, Payton was known for his generosity and humanitarian pursuits, which led the media and public to embrace his nickname, “Sweetness,” on an even deeper level. In 1977, he was honored with the NFL Man of the Year award, which was created to celebrate a player’s volunteer and charity work in addition to their excellence on the field. In 1999, after his passing, the award was renamed the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, paying homage to Payton’s legacy as one of the NFL’s most charitable and talented players in history. He left his biggest mark as a humanitarian in the realm of organ donation, being one of the first professional sports players and celebrities to draw heightened awareness to the world’s desperate need for organ donors.

Nevertheless, even as a true team player and someone who focused much of his energy on helping others, Payton also knew the value of rewarding oneself for a job well done. After his first five successful years in the NFL, Payton finally treated himself to a big purchase that was just for him: a brand-new 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo.

“This was his first sports car,” Jarrett explained. “This was the first big-name sports car that he bought. He bought it in 1979, the year before I was born. He got into the league in ’75, and early on, his main focus was just playing football. That focus helped him become the leading rusher with the most carries those first three years. He worked hard to ensure he had established himself, so when he was getting to the good part of his career, when the ‘80s came around, he wanted to treat himself.”
At the time, the Porsche 930 Turbo was one of the hottest cars on the market, and Payton was still a youthful 25-year-old with a need for speed and an innate appreciation for the world’s finest autos.

Equipped with a 3.3L/265 HP turbocharged Flat-6 engine, 4-speed transmission and showing just 9,950 miles on the odometer, the car is in stunning condition. It’s silver paint still gleams brilliantly in the sunlight, and its black leather interior is free of any obvious signs of wear. A sunroof and air conditioning provide comfort options for riders and carbon-fiber dash inlays elevate the interior’s appearance to one befitting of a modern-day supercar. As the last year before Porsche’s planned end to the American line of 930 Turbos, the 1979 models were especially desirable to buyers, and this example is certainly near the top of its class

“He loved the silver on that body style,” Jarrett said. “He had it to match the chrome rims on there; he just always wanted it to look super clean. He wanted the hottest thing out, and you know, I respect him because when you work hard, and you have the means to do those things, why not treat yourself? He knew the grind and the hard work being in football, not taking a day off … that’s what made the car special.”

Jarrett said his dad treated the car like royalty, especially as Payton’s successes compounded and he was able to add more driving options to his collection. The Turbo was the one he kept carefully tucked away in his garage, where he’d lovingly tend to it in his spare moments.

“I just remember how much time he would spend with the car and being around the car,” Jarrett said. “But it’s got less than 10,000 miles on it. As he started getting more cars, it really just became his baby. So he’d admire it and take it out for short periods of time. For him, it was so special that it was like another kid. He had me and my sister and then this Porsche.”

Jarrett remembers enjoying some of those short rides in the Turbo at his dad’s side. After installing Nakamichi speakers and an Alpine CD player and sound system, Jarrett said the two would occasionally take it out to local record stores and pick up some new music to listen to.

“My dad loved music, so it was a good opportunity to drive around listening to new music together.”

As Payton’s health began to rapidly decline in the late ‘90s due to his struggle with a rare liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, he decided it was time to prepare for the worst, getting his affairs in order and establishing a living will. He sold most of his cars, including his Ferrari Testarossa, his 300ZX Nissan and the Lamborghini Countach given to him by the Kangaroo Shoe Company he was endorsing when he broke Jim Brown’s record.

“I’ll never forget that moment either,” Jarrett said after mentioning the Countach. “We were leaving Soldier Field right after the game, and he was in the car and everyone was snapping all these pictures—just hundreds of people there—and he just looked at me and said, ‘You ready to go?’”

And yet, even with stories and memories such as that, the Turbo remained as the only car that Payton couldn’t bring himself to sell. After all, it was like his third child. In order to avoid saying that goodbye, Payton decided to write it into his will that when he died, the car should be passed onto Jarrett. Just not until Jarrett’s 25th birthday.

“His biggest thing for me was teaching me values and responsibilities, and he taught me you got to work for your toys and your things,” Jarrett explained. “You have to wait, and you have to work. He was worried I wouldn’t respect things if they were just given to me.

“My dad told me if I got a scholarship, he would buy me any car I wanted. Right before I left to go to the University of Miami, he bought me a BMW Convertible that I had been wanting so bad. I was so excited. Imagine being a college kid in Miami cruising around, top down … I couldn’t wait. But, he told me, before he passed away, he told me I couldn’t have my car until my sophomore year. And he passed my freshmen year, but I waited till my sophomore year to bring that car down to Miami, just to honor his wishes. I didn’t always understand his reason, but I knew he always had a reason and a plan.”

Payton succumbed to cancer caused by his illness on November 1, 1999, at just 45 years of age. Jarrett was only 19.

Six years later, the car’s title was transferred to Jarrett’s name. Since taking possession of the car, Jarrett has treated it much in the same way his father did. It has been carefully stored and driven only on occasion, sometimes with Jarrett’s own son, 6-year-old Jaden.

“He got a chance to enjoy it with me this summer,” Jarrett said. “I remember when I was his age and riding with my dad, and the car just has so much power. It’s so cool just seeing in his eyes like, ‘Dad! This is so crazy!’”

Now 37, Jarrett has had the car for 12 years, and while he’s enjoyed owning it, he says the things he really cherishes of his dad’s are his old jerseys and cleats and trophies. It’s Jarrett’s desire to pass the Turbo onto someone who not only looks up to the great Walter Payton as he does, but someone who also cherishes great classic autos in the same way his dad did.

“It was a hard thing to decide,” he explained, “but we’ve always shared my dad with the world. We hear every single day everyone’s stories about him, and I just felt that there is someone out there who would truly enjoy this car and love this car and cherish this car like he did, and that would bring me even more joy to know that someone loves it like him and will put it in their collection and take care of it the way he did.”

The car will be offered at Mecum’s Chicago auction in Schaumburg, Illinois, as Lot S134. With Payton’s NFL career exclusively lived out as a Chicago Bear, there’s no better venue, and the lot number is also a nod to Payton’s storied career wearing jersey No. 34.

“It makes sense to be lot 134,” said Jarrett. “There’s only one of these cars, and there’s only one Walter Payton—there’s only one 34. That number, 34, it appears in my life every day. Whether I look at the clock or a street sign—it happens multiple times a day—and it’s just my dad telling me he’s here and he’s around, and it’s cool to have that number associated with this car.”

The offering of the Payton Porsche in Chicago is certain to be an emotional moment that is full of meaning for both the Payton family and for fans of the Bears’ most celebrated player in history. For Jarrett, he will be saying goodbye to a cherished part of his father’s estate in hopes of finding it an even better home, and for every Bears fan and every Walter Payton fan across the nation, of which there are millions, it’ll be an opportunity to celebrate one of the NFL’s greatest of all time via one of the coolest collector cars of all time. In the worlds of professional sports and collector cars, a better pairing may not exist.