Porsche stunned the automotive world when it unveiled the 959 at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show. Identified internally as the Type 961, this new machine was to be the German automaker’s entry into the cutting-edge FIA Group B international rally championship arena, a no-holds-barred rally of the old school where practically any technology was permissible. This no-limits policy encouraged a long list of automakers to create incredibly powerful and extremely fast vehicles, all of which required production of at least 200 street-legal examples on which these rally specials could be based.
The 959’s chassis was set on the same 89.4-inch wheelbase as the 911 Carrera with the cabin’s center section, including its stamped floorplan, nearly identical to the 911. The front trunk lid and doors were aluminum; the extended nose section with almost flush headlamps was molded of polyurethane, and the remainder of the shell from fiberglass-reinforced Kevlar. There was extensive ducting and venting in the nose to cool the front brakes and oil radiator. The body’s rear section was greatly extended and widened, generously ventilated, and topped with a full-width rear wing.
Powering this advanced chassis was the true brilliance of the 959. A 2.85-liter, sequential, twin-turbocharged, double overhead camshaft, flat six-cylinder engine equipped with air-cooled cylinders and 24-valve, water-cooled heads. The engine was largely based on those used in the brilliant “Moby Dick” IMSA GT coupe and Porsche’s Indy open-wheel projects. Featuring a pair of asymmetrical turbochargers, each of them intercooled, this engine delivered seamless power, with a small turbocharger spinning up almost from idle to establish low-end boost, while the second exhaust-driven turbine came into play at 4,500 rpm. At full throttle and maximum boost, this relatively small engine produced a stunning 444 horsepower. Power was fed through a specially designed BorgWarner six-speed transaxle, which included an extremely low “gelände”—terrain—gear for use in off-road situations the Type 961 rally car might encounter.
The Porsche-Steur-Kupplung (PSK) all-wheel-drive system allowed the driver to vary the 370 pounds-feet of torque between the rear and front axles, allowing up to 80 percent to the rear under hard acceleration, all managed electronically. The 959’s highly advanced suspension was also race-derived, with double wishbones at each corner, coil springs, and double shocks that could be adjusted by the turn of a knob from the driver’s seat. Both the ride height and shock damping were electronically adjustable, and a full array of instruments kept the driver in touch with everything going on behind and beneath.
Special 17-inch lightweight magnesium alloy wheels and model-specific run-flat tires were created for the 959, and the wheels included one of the first automatic pressure-monitoring systems. The antilock braking systems featured large, ventilated discs.
Most 959s were delivered as “Komfort” models, with an array of amenities, including full leather trim and air conditioning. The 959 was an amazing performer. It could reach 60 mph in under four seconds and cover the standing quarter mile in about 12 seconds on its way to a 197-mph top speed, making it the fastest street-legal production car of its day. With the cancellation of Group B racing in 1986, the 959 continued as a customer road-car model, although it cost so much to build that Porsche is said to have taken a 50-percent loss on every car. By the conclusion of production in 1988, just 292 examples had been built.
According to a factory build record and the research of marque authority Jürgen Barth, this 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort was assembled in November 1987, finished in Grand Prix White over a dark blue leather interior. The car was equipped with heated, electronically adjustable front seats and an alarm system.
As documented by the included service booklet, this 959 was delivered new to Germany in early December 1987 before making its way to the United Kingdom, where it was first registered in June 1989. Two months later, Porsche Centre Reading in Theale, Berkshire, United Kingdom, replaced the European-specification speedometer/tachometer with a unit measuring in miles. Logs indicate that the original odometer read 2,811 kilometers at the time, equal to about 1,747 miles.
In October 1992, noted Porsche dealer H.R. Owen in London sold the 959 to a family, at which point the new odometer displayed 1,597 miles. The car was then regularly submitted for routine service to Porsche Centre Reading, and service booklet entries indicate a steady accrual of modest mileage over the following 21 years. This 959 would eventually become a frequent sighting in central London for over a decade, garnering the attention of West End supercar hunters, eager to photograph the stunning Porsche.
The 959 was purchased by current ownership in the fall of 2021, joining a private collection in Canada. In October of 2022, the car was serviced by Policaro Performance where it received an oil change, a new fuel filter, and a new A/C compressor. While the paintwork has been addressed over the course of the car’s life, the interior is believed to remain original. Taking the 959’s original 1,747 miles of use in Germany into account, and the current odometer reading of 15,071 miles, this car is believed to have accrued 16,818 miles, a desirably low figure for a 36-year-old supercar.
The world’s fastest production car at the time of its release, the 959’s exhilarating 197-mph top speed is still a respectable figure to this day. This example, finished in a desirable color combination and nicely optioned from new, presents a wonderful opportunity for the Porsche enthusiast or collector of modern-day exotics to experience the 959, a rare and significant model with groundbreaking performance, advanced technology for the period in which it was produced, and a timeless design that continues to age gracefully.