10124 km (6291 mi)
740 ps (552 kw)
Today, still many of us connect the name Walter Wolf mainly with oil business and self-made success, Formula One and the golden 1970’s. And rightly so. However, he was not only the spiritus rector of some of this world’s most fascinating supercars of their era but also their enthusiastic driver. Wolf was born in Graz, Austria on 5 October, 1939 and therefore directly into troubled times, at least in Europe. The family somehow managed to survive WWII meanwhile having moved to Yugoslavia which they left in 1951, heading up for Wuppertal, Germany. From there Walter Wolf emigrated to Canada in 1958, later obtaining Canadian citizenship. In Canada Walter Wolf first started a sporting career as a member of the Canadian Olympic ski equipe and participated in the Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria in 1964. Coming from a rather petit bourgeois family environment, Walter Wolf soon turned out to become a very successful self-made executive, first in the construction business, later in supplying oil-drilling equipment, while benefitting from the oil crisis early in the 1970’s. And like almost all “old-school” businessmen act when becoming tremendously rich: They look for the right toys to spend all the money, and Walter Wolf had ALL the toys in this world!
Walter Wolf was always highly interested in and a fan of the Formula One of that time and soon became a common visitor of almost every Formula One race in the early 1970’s. In 1976, the time was right for him to buy 60% of Frank Williams Racing Cars while agreeing to keep Frank Williams as the manager of this Formula One team. Furthermore, Walter Wolf bought the assets of the Hesketh team that had recently withdrawn from Formula One. The team, based in the Williams facility at Reading, used most of the cars, then called Wolf-Williams, and equipment once owned by Hesketh Racing.
Not being successful in their first year with the drivers Jacky Ickx and Michel Leclere, Walter Wolf decided that the team needed restructuring. Frank Williams was removed from the manager job and replaced by Peter Warr. Although it looked promising having hired Jody Scheckter from Tyrrell, nobody expected that Walter Wolf’s team would win its first race in Argentina for the 1977 season. Scheckter then went on to win the Monaco Grand Prix and also – very important for Walter Wolf - the Canadian Grand Prix, not to forget six other podium finishes which enabled him to finish second to Niki Lauda in the World Championship, giving Walter Wolf Racing a sensational 4th place in the Constructors‘ Championship of 1977!
In the following Formula One seasons Walter Wolf Racing could not repeat to the former success and finally Walter Wolf himself got tired of his toy at the end of 1979 and sold it Emerson Fittipaldi, while retiring completely from Formula One. Still being THE most illustrious Formula One team owner, Walter Wolf visited Kremer Racing in 1979 while searching for a new toy to satisfy his needs for a new super-, if not hypercar. Eventually his purpose-built Lamborghini Countach LP400 S had to be replaced by something more special and – of course – far faster.
After his strong personal Lamborghini episode he looked north over the Alps and found out that a Porsche 935, one of the most successful race cars ever and this year’s overall winner of the 24h of Le Mans, would be just enough for him to match the required profile. However, it seemed fully out of reach to convince the Porsche factory a) to sell him one of its evolution models and b) to try to make it street legal! And there Kremer Racing came into the scene. As Porsche hesitated to sell their Evolution models, some teams developed their own ideas, especially Kremer Racing from Cologne, Germany. Parallel to the factory, in 1976 they had built a 935 K1, and, in 1977, modified their customer 935 to the K2. For 1979, they introduced the 935 K3 (for „Kremer Type 3“; the derivative of the successful K2). Driven mainly by Klaus Ludwig, it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979, beating all prototypes even in the rain. Coming in second was a works 935, driven by Rolf Stommelen, and supported by team owner Dick Barbour and actor Paul Newman.
Kremer Racing, in collaboration with Ekkehard Zimmermann agreed to take this absolute crazy order from Walter Wolf and realized not only a look-a-like Kremer K3 race car which Walter Wolf never would have accepted, but really built a genuine Kremer K3 with 24h of Le Mans specs just for simple street use. When eventually taking delivery of his new one-off street-legal Kremer K3 Le Mans, it was according to Kremer - 98% identical to the K3, which won Le Mans in 1979. The car had (and still has) an 2,85-liter twin-turbo, twin spark 6-cylinder boxer engine slightly detuned to deliver “only” 740hp at 8,000 rpm to the 4-speed 930/30-gearbox with Le Mans gear ratio (!). For the bodywork, Kremer/Zimmermann used original K3 Kevlar body panels, adding only small blinking lights and side markers. The tires were hand built by Goodyear and mounted on original BBS race wheels in the dimensions 11x16 at front and 14,75x19 at rear.
Walter Wolf also asked for a speedometer in km, which could display the full range of the Le Mans gear ratio. Therefore, Kremer had to invent a special magnetic sensor for the rear axle. The development of the new exhaust system only took Kremer nearly six months! The suspension was also modified with special Bilstein dampers and the race chassis clearance was raised up to 10cm (instead of the original 5cm) because Walter Wolf wanted to use his new car for high speed travelling all over Europe. For the luxurious interior Kremer used Recaro seats and parts coming from the 930 Turbo. Everything was clothed in dark blue leather; the seats also had red piping. Although Kremer wanted to fulfill everything, he refused Walter Wolf’s wish for a second aircon for the passenger’s side, reputedly in answering Walter that, from a technical point of view, it would be better to wear just a polo shirt while driving in the summer months.
Painted in his special dark blue color with red stripes, Walter Wolf’s Kremer K3 Le Mans used also his famous logo on the rear fenders and at the back. Before delivery, Erwin Kremer tested this car on a German autobahn clocked with 338 km/h top speed, having a good argument then to send Walter Wolf the final bill. All in all the realization of his toy cost Walter Wolf not less than 375,000.- Deutsch Marks which was approx. $800,000.- in 1980. Walter Wolf, a man who always reaches his targets, indeed was able to obtain a Vehicle Registration Certificate from Alberta, Canada for his Kremer K3 Le Mans with plates “DJD 639”. Moreover, of course he used these license plates for travelling Europe with his rocket.
Walter Wolf sparingly used his Kremer K3 Le Mans and finally sold it in 1987 to Swiss ex racecar driver and car collector Angelo Pallavicini who directly put in on display in his private museum, while the street license had already expired on 31 January 1986. In the mid-1980’s, new toys had attracted Walter Wolf’s attention, especially a street-legal BMW M1 modified to Procar specs and then the Ferrari 288 GTO but this is another story. Becoming a lobbyist for arms manufacturers in later years, Walter Wolf is still good for newspaper headlines from time to time. However, this only adds to Walter Wolf’s mystic aura. In Angelo Pallavicini’s ownership, the Kremer K3 Le Mans lived an unmolested life in his private museum all the years before he sold it early in 2013 to Germany based CARTIQUE GmbH, domiciled in Pleidelsheim, part of the FRG Group of companies and specialized into high-end collector cars. Walter Wolf’s Kremer K3 has only original 10,124km on the odometer. It is exactly in the same condition as delivered to Walter Wolf in 1980. It still wears completely its original paint and it still has its original interior. Even the front tires are the original ones!
This Kremer K3 Le Mans comes with the original Vehicle Registration Certificate, the customs papers for Switzerland and EU import docs. It needs nothing but a technical inspection and a new caring owner who is man enough to bring it back on the street, handling 740hp at the back. No one can turn back time, of course. However, with this time capsule, one comes as close as possible to feel like being Walter Wolf himself in his very best days.