1988 Porsche 959 Coupe

Conceived in the early 1980s as a 4-wheel-drive Group B competitor, the Porsche 959 was first displayed in concept car form at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show. Despite the subsequent abandonment of Group B, the 959 entered limited production in 1987 as a machine that successfully adapted state-of-the art racing technology for road use.

At the car’s heart was a unique, 2,849-cc version of the classic, 6-cylinder, air-cooled boxer engine equipped with water-cooled, double-overhead-camshaft, 4-valve cylinder heads. Developed for the 1981 Le Mans-winning 936, the engine was further refined on the even more successful 956/962 that triumphed at La Sarthe every year from 1982 to 1987.

In 959 specifications, this formidable twin-turbo-charged engine produced 450 horsepower. When combined with the lightweight part-composite body’s drag coefficient of just 0.32, it proved sufficient to propel the 959 past 195 mph and onto the front rank of all-time-great supercars.

The 959’s sophisticated 4-wheel-drive, 6-speed transmission was computer controlled, providing variable torque split with alternative programs for dry, wet, icy, or off-road conditions. The double-wishbone suspension included electrically controlled ride height adjustment. The ABS brakes delivered race-car levels of retardation and the run-flat tires were monitored for pressure loss.

All of this made for a car faster than just about anything else on the road. Yet, in the tradition of previous Porsche 911 Turbos, it was comfortable, practical, reliable, and luxurious, with electric windows and mirrors, climate control, electric heated seats and a superb stereo.

Rumor has it that Porsche sold the 959 for far less than it cost to produce, as the company regarded the model as a showcase for its engineering expertise. In the U.K., the 959 cost about £145,000 ($261,000) when new, though speculators drove the price considerably higher.

The Porsche 959 achieved one major competition victory, winning the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally in 1986 with similar cars in 2nd and 6th places, while the race-developed 961 variant finished 7th overall at Le Mans that year, winning the IMSA GT2 class and headed only by Group C Porsches, an amazing result. In total, a bit more than 300 of these exclusive supercars were made, although the official factory figure is 292.

This example was ordered in May 1998 by its first owner and was purchased in 2010 by the current seller from Porsche specialists Freisinger Motorsport in Germany. It was maintained exclusively by Porsche Stuttgart until 1993 (at 3,262 miles) and then by Porsche Monaco in 1997 (at 31,068 miles). The most recent major service (December 2010) was completed by AFN Porsche Centre at a cost of about $14,000. Following a recent road test for BBC Television’s “Top Gear” program and a photo shoot for Octane magazine, it went back to AFN Porsche Centre in March 2011 for wheel refurbishment and new tires.

This is now a very well-sorted 959. Offered with its cherished registration number 959LRT, it comes with leather wallet and instruction books, a copy of the driver’s manual (in English), and current MoT certificate until September 2011. It is equipped with the optional factory Stage 2 performance chip.

Jim Schrager

Jim Schrager - SCM Contributor

Jim wrote for the 356 Registry and SCM for over a decade, was a Contributing Editor for Porsche Panorama (the magazine of the Porsche Club of America), and wrote for Excellence and the Porsche Market Letter. He has written two popular books on vintage Porsches: Buying, Driving, and Enjoying the Porsche 356; and Buying, Driving, and Enjoying the Early Porsche 911. He owns about 20 vintage Porsches, which he attempts to keep on the road through all kinds of weather. He is a clinical professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he teaches a popular course on strategy. He actively races his family’s 41-foot sailboat with his two boys on Lake Michigan.

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