Before the Cayenne, you’d never expect to see a Porsche competing offroad; maybe some rally stages, but certainly not where there was no road at all.
Believe it or not, the 959 was built to compete in Group B. Against such legends like the Lancia 037 and Audi Quattro. Alas Group B was nearing the end of its life, but the 959 needed to race somewhere to prove itself.
Porsche chose the Paris-Dakar; arguably the most difficult racing environment in the world.
What made it so challenging was that only offroad vehicles such as body-on-frame trucks had ever won. Never a supercar and never one that was so technologically advanced.
Computers were a fairly new tech for cars at the time and the 959 used more than ever before. Not necessarily a good match for a strenuous offroad race. The first year it entered was 1985 and the results were less than great. None of them finished.
Enter 1986 and it was the 959's year. They finished 1st, 2nd, and 6th, cementing the car’s prowess.
As far as tech goes, it used a new-for-porsche AWD system that could send up to 80% of the power to the rear and used a sequential twin-turbo setup. This setup meant that a smaller turbo was used at lower RPM before the larger one kicked in at higher RPM. This was an effective method of removing turbo lag, which gave previous turbocharged Porsches the nickname of the widowmaker. This version of the 2.8L flat-6 was able to pump out over 440bhp with the turbos. Some later versions had even more.
The Paris-Dakar Rally itself would start in Paris, regroup in Algeria then head straight south to Niger, then due west to the coast of Africa, ending in Dakar. The 1986 race is actually the longest Paris-Dakar rally in history at 15,000km long. The race would change each year and today isn’t even in Africa. The race is set to be entirely in Peru in 2019.
The dominance from the 1986 race truly showed the world how capable a vehicle the 959 was. Video break:
Really remarkable. Well this year for Rennsport Reunion, the theme was “Marque of Champions”. It was to showcase how dominant Porsche was in many racing series, not just the ones like LeMans. Well this car was certainly one of the highlights.
At the time, the 959 and the Ferrari F40 were THE supercars at the top. The Ferrari had a claimed higher top speed (by 2 mph), but many regard the 959 as the game-changing supercar. The fastest and most well balanced cars of today use technologies spearheaded by the 959. You could argue the F40 was the greatest of its breed, but the 959 was certainly the future.
Anyways, the 959 Dakar is one of my all-time favorites. I just can’t get over that a supercar was created for Group B (the Audi Quattro and Lancia 037 weren’t really on the same level in street-trim) and instead it went off and dominated an even more grueling race. And the streetcar version has been regarded as one of the best driver’s cars out there!
The 959 did show up in racing trim again as the 961 - the LeMans version of the car. It only raced one year in 1986 as well and ran 3 races. There was only one car built, sadly. It did at least win its class at LeMans in 1986. The venerable 962 won that race overall.
As far as this model goes, it’s a 1:43 from Spark and is quite excellent.
All of the little details are stunning - and fragile. No idea where my front tow-hook went after my outdoors shoot... ah well.
Everything is on point and the wheels actually spin! Rare for a resin model.
Simply put, this thing is a star.
Can you imagine?