1988 Porsche 959

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The 959 is already regarded as one of the ultimate “Supercars” ever produced and made available to the public. With only about 250 having been built, they are assured of their place in motoring history.

First created in 1983 for the now abandoned Group B racing series, then entered in the Paris-Dakar off-road rally, which it won, the 959 was based upon the 911 Carrera, with a similar steel tub and same wheelbase, similar cockpit, but little else in common. The muscular bodywork was an all-new design intended to make maximum use of surface aerodynamics, with a rear wing incorporated into the external shape and a number of ducts and vents to allow controlled air through they body. Porsche managed to achieve an 0.31 drag coefficient with zero lift. Materials used include doors and front lid of magnesium alloy, a nose cap of polyurethane and the remainder a combination of a fiberglass/Kevlar composite.

The power comes from a highly developed version of the 911 flat-six engine with twin KKK turbochargers, twin intercoolers, four valves per cylinder and titanium con rods. The turbo operation is two-stage, one permanently adding boost while the other phases in power as the revs rise above 4,000 rpm. The air/water cooling system is as derived from the Le Mans-winning Group C cars having air-cooled cylinders and water-cooled heads.

The four-wheel drive system is a unique and highly sophisticated arrangement providing the ultimate combination of speed and driver safety. The rear wheels are driven conventionally through a six-speed gearbox and rear differential, while the front wheels operate through a Porsche multi-plate control clutch in an oil-filled chamber situated between the gearbox and the front transverse differential. Varying clutch oil pressure determines front torque delivery, so there is no central differential, and the rear differential is locking. With the aid of computers and wheel-mounted speed sensors, the 959 can be programmed between front and rear wheels. At all times the system is able to adjust to the conditions, even during cornering. Hazards such as ice causing rear wheel slip will be compensated by front wheel drive.

Other high-tech features include computer controlled shock absorber suspension control – one set stiffens as speed rises, while another lowers the car over 95 mph to improve the aerodynamics. A manual override is also provided. There is hydraulically-boosted rack and pinion steering, ABS braking, special safety tires with run-flat capability and pressure loss sensors. With a manufacturer’s quoted top speed of about 190 mph and the brilliance of the Porsche technology providing supreme road holding and safety together with comfort and style, the 959 brings the qualities of a racing car to the road driver.

This particular 959, featured in the French book “Fantastic Porsches,” is in outstanding condition having been bought new by the present owner from the French importer. It was factory checked before delivery, and the mileage of the 7,500 kms is documented.

This superb and original one-owner example performed like a new car when taken on a short test drive.

{analysis} A car we’ll never see on the U.S. roads (even the billions of Microsoft guru Bill Gates can’t get his 959 registered), 094 sold at $266,800 on 16 May 1994 at Christie’s Geneva event.

Like the superlative Ferrari 288 GTO, many of these supercars were purchased by speculators and museum-keepers, and sit languishing, never to perform to their maker’s expectations.

Were you to be an enthusiast of means, with the capability of keeping a car in Europe just for the occasional high-speed jaunt on the Autobahn or Autostrada, it is difficult to imagine a contemporary car that would provide more performance and more satisfaction, regardless of price. – ED.
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