Spotted: Porsche 959 prototype

What was once a technological tour-de-force, is now a mechanical and electrical liability. Those words could have been written specifically for the Porsche 959. In fact, they just were.

Who needs level ride height?
Who needs level ride height?
I was probably one of the few kids from that era who daubed his bedroom walls with posters of 959s and not F40s, and this is largely because whereas the F40 was tangible – lots of power, little weight – the Porsche appeared to have arrived from a different Galaxy. Hollow wheels with tyre pressure monitoring, anyone? My family was busy upgrading to FM radio and in-car cassette players.

The technology that defined the 959 – the complicated 4WD system, the adjustable dampers, the water-cooled heads – is sadly now the key reason why values of this rare, fascinating machine languish below cars of inferior quality and significance. The Veyron truly is the new 959, because both cost a fortune to keep in a roadworthy condition.

Seats aren't quite right either...
Seats aren't quite right either...
So what is a development 959 worth? Lord only knows, but to me it isn’t as valuable as one of the production cars. The narrative behind this machine is clearly fascinating, and you wouldn’t have to trawl many Stuttgart pubs to meet the chaps who worked on it back in the 80s.

I’m always pretty suspicious of anything like this that somehow finds its way out of the Porsche factory gates and into private hands. The company is loathe to release these machines, so I’d want to research how it came to be in the United States.

It’s a piece of history though. One with some rear ride height issues and a set of seats with strangely small bolsters. But for the collector more interested in the story behind the car than the driving experience, it might be a dream purchase.

 2,849cc flat-six turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power (hp): 451@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 369@5,000rpm
MPG: 21.2mpg (combined)
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1986
Recorded mileage: not given
Price new: not available
Yours for: TBC

See the original advert here; car is due on sale on Saturday.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (80) Join the discussion on the forum

  • SimonSaid 16 Jan 2013

    I shared your childhood fascination with the 959, Chris. And not just because of the awesome rabbit-frightening radio controlled one I had - it just felt (feels) completely out-there and left-field. The same spirit of proudly vanguard electronics seen in cars like the Merc S-Class and Citroen DS, but in something epically fast that looked suitably sci-fi at the time. Also remember thinking how great it was that it had little back seats so that if dad swapped the family Astra GTE for one, I'd still have somewhere to sit... sigh...

  • LaurasOtherHalf 16 Jan 2013

    Your dad had an Astra GTE? Man one of my mates dads had one of them & he smoked rothmans-what a dude.

    Anyway, I remember buying the tamiya 1:24 kit of the 959, then I had a moment & painted & decaled it as a modern day batmobile, fk knows what I was thinking but I guess it was so futuristic I figured it would be something batman would drive.

    These things were never homologated for America originally were they?

  • LotusOmega375D 16 Jan 2013

    I loved them more than F40s too.

    The original "Gruppe B" prototype publicity shots prior to production showed a silver car with aerodynamic disk wheels (a bit like the XJ220).

    Anyway here's gratuitous photo of one that used to sit in the Daventry rally car museum.

    Here's the sort of thing I mean.

    Funny how a Passenger Door Mirror (PDM) still seemed to be an optional extra even on the top-of-the-range, money-no-object super Porsche! No 1980s Porsche classified ad was complete without a "PDM".

    Edited by LotusOmega375D on Wednesday 16th January 17:43

    Edited by LotusOmega375D on Wednesday 16th January 17:44

  • Dusty964 16 Jan 2013

    As a huge Porsche fan, that does little for me. The 961 was the best development of the car.

  • IsItACatInAHat 16 Jan 2013

    They had a 959 (belonging to a certain famous guy around these parts) in the local Seattle Porsche dealership over the summer when I popped in to look at the new Boxster. Absolutely stunning, they had flew over a tech from Porsche AG to restore it, as a lot of the suspension had perished due to not being used.

    Still, as much of a Porsche fan as I am, I think I'd rather go F40. I know it's heresy and against everything the 959 stands for, but I always thought it looked like a shonky 911, that rear spoiler just looks bizarre.

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