Last week SN210 reminded me we’d do a 959 day so today is such a Teutonic Tuesday! All about the world’s fastest street-legal production car. At least: It held that title for a year (1986).
I’m sure most of you know the history on the 959. It started out as a Group B project for Porsche when the FIA still thought Group B would be more than just rallying, as the Group B regulations would also be introduced for Sportscar racing. Therefor, when it’s concept was first shown to the public, Porsche would name it the Porsche Gruppe B.
One of the key-factors was that companies had to build at least 200 units for usage on the road and Porsche had quite the experience in creating small series for homologation. And there were few restrictions on technology and design although there was a further segmentation into displacement classes (2.0, 2.5, 3.0 and 4.0 liter N/A).
As the N/A displacement was never realistic when it comes to the supercharged multiplier (the N/A displacement divided by 1.4) Porsche of course opted for a little help having it breathe. As it was the ‘80's a turbo was used for charging. Correction: TWO turbos were used. And 4WD was added to the list of specifications as well.
But then the FIA started to focus the Group B on rallying. And Porsche switched it’s focus to show-off it’s state-of-the-art, cost-no-object technological innovation. And even at a price. As a 959 would cost 420,000DM ($225,000 back then) but it costed Porsche twice that to produce these!
Nevertheless the 959 ended up doing rallies. Just not the little normal ones. three 959 testbeds (911 with many components of the 959), internal code 953, entered the Paris-Dakar rally in 1984, one of ‘m driven by Jacky Ickx. Jacky didn’t win but René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne won that edition.
In 1985 the 959 rally cars would be ready. But none of the three contending 959s would finish the 1985 Paris-Alger–Dakar rally. They would have their revenge one year later. Again with René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne winning but Jacky Icks and Claude Brasseur would finish their 959 second.
But didn’t any 959 end up racing on tracks? Porsche developed the 961 based on the 959. And the 961 would enter not many races but it went to Le Mans twice. In 1986 and 1987. In 1986 it would finish 7th (7 Porsches in a row!!!), first in it’s GTX class. In front of many prototypes like the 956 and 962! Behind the wheel: again René Metge.
The ‘87 edition though Canadian/Dutch driver Kees Nierop had a little accident after a transmission failure and while he was trying to get to the pit-stop something terrible happened. Stuck between two race officials with fire extinguishers it, well, burnt down to the ground.
To me the 959 is the first supercar. I know the 288GTO was introduced two years earlier but somehow that one with it’s claimed top speed of 303km/h didn’t push the limits as far as the 959 did. Still aircooled (water cooled heads though), but 4 wheel drive and many other state of the art features would end up in the regular Porsches not that many years later.
All in all 337 units were made. 37 of those were pre-production cars and prototypes. In 1992 (four years after production -at coachbuilder Bauer’s!- ended) though Porsche would again make 8 959s, this time all in Zuffenhausen at their own factory, from spare parts they still had laying around. And sold all 8 in a heartbeat for 747,500 DM.
The model here is a Minichamps 959 in, as expected, 1/43. It is far from flawless, there’s a spot underneath the pain on the driver’s side door, the plastic parts used for blinkers/taillights aren’t exactly crisp and although I’m sure Minichamps looked how the 959's mirrors looked: I remember them not pointing that high up in the air.
The wheels are amazing and I couldn’t leave this one at the shop. It was such a great and important car and it came in the color my own 911 is: Grand Prix Weiss. And I can’t wait to see what other 959s will be shown today. I know SN210 is planning something. And I know Philipilihp is gonna show some 1/64 / 3"s. So get out your 959s and start shooting!