Manufactured from 1986 to 1993, the Porsche 959 truly was, or rather still is like the proverbial ‘shit off a stick’ with a pedigree hungry for tarmac.
Even today’s velocity gurus award the twin-turbocharged muscle car 5 stars. Boasting a top speed just short of 200mph, and 0-60 in an eye-watering 4 seconds. Yes, it’s fast, very fast.
Technically advanced and given the controversial title of the fastest street-legal production car, this Group B rally car was cleverly produced to satisfy FIA homologation regulations, which stipulated 200 or more street legal units had to be produced by the German manufacturers.
At any given opportunity the rampant 959 was like a futile kid throwing its toys out of the pram, and why not with an all-wheel-drive system that gave it’s doubting Thomases, or rather Hermann’s the persuasion they needed to make all-wheel drive standard on all 911 Turbos beginning with the 993.
I’ve personally not experienced the distinguished greased lightning of the influential 959, which given the number of cars I was in and out of around the ’80s and ’90s is pretty damn frustrating. Nonetheless, my jealousy has evaporated and one can only drool over the technical supremacy embraced by this German warrior.
It was the current Porsche’s head engineer, Helmuth Bott, who bravely approached the company’s then-new Managing Director, Peter Schutz, explaining he’d come up with some new thoughts surrounding the Porsche 911, which ultimately lead to the signature rear-engined machine.
The Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40 – Two 1980s icons… pic.twitter.com/Y2iKOdicVa
— Classic Car Curation (@CCCuration) December 5, 2019
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The twin-turbocharged six-cylinder boxer engine was already an existing thoroughbred, which Porsche set about developing into the 2849cc unit with an air-cooled system and water-cooled heads. Looking into some research it seems Wikipedia states that the engine had originally been developed for the ‘Moby Dick’ race car and then tinkered with again for the elusive Porsche Indy Car and several other projects before being tuned the last time for use in the 961, the 959’s racing counterpart.
Sequential turbochargers were given the green light over the standard identical blowers, this gave each of the cylinder pairings more power and an explosive progressive power band, unlike the usual and more common ‘light switch’ effect. Hell, today’s scooby lovers would have been shaking in their Nike replicas!
The street-legal version of the 959 made its first appearance at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show as a 1986 model, but it’s widely reported there were development issues surrounding the subsequent production, leading to over a year without delivery.
Interiors ranged from basic to slightly less than basic, namely ‘Sport’ and ‘Komfort’, which tied in with race version and road version. Clocks, dash and furnishings were less important than rip-snorting power.
1987 saw jubilant customers taking delivery of their very own street legal German hot-rods, and priced at US$225,000 per unit they weren’t exactly the cheapest car to be had. Porsche, however, was apparently turning the 959 out for at least half that price for every unit.
In total, 337 cars were built, including 37 prototypes and pre-production models, with at least one 959 and one 961 still residing at the Porsche historic hall in Stuttgart, Germany.
The Porsche 959 can be adapted to take a street-legal catalytic converter, that coupled with your rejigged computer will allow it to meet current emissions requirements.
Most 959 owners are reluctant to part with their German prize possession with auction prices for high quality original units remaining buoyant. Notable recent sales reflecting around the $1,000,000 – $200,000,000.
Images courtesy RM Sotheby’s