We study the effect of an internal rotor on the classical and quantum intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution (IVR) dynamics of a model system with three degrees of freedom. The system is based on a Hamiltonian proposed by Martens and Reinhardt [J. Chem. Phys. 93, 5621 (1990)] to study IVR in the excited electronic state of para-fluorotoluene. We explicitly construct the state space and show, confirming the mechanism proposed by Martens and Reinhardt, that an excited high frequency mode relaxes via diffusion along a thick layer of chaos created by the low frequency-rotor interactions. However, the corresponding quantum dynamics exhibits no appreciable relaxation of the high frequency mode. We attribute the quantum suppression of the classical thick-layer diffusion to the rotor selection rules and, possibly, dynamical localization effects. © 2007 American Institute of Physics.