Porsche had already been a household name by the time it released the 959 in 1986, but the event forever changed not only the brand but the automotive world altogether. The car reflected the very best of the technological advancements being made during the 1980s and is arguably Porsche’s first supercar, with enough power and features to rival anything Lamborghini or Ferrari could throw at it, and then some. It experimented in ways that would shape a new standard for supercars and a new standard for Porsche.
With its importance in car history, the Porsche 959 can be considered as the best car of its time, and this continued into the 1990s too with the car reaching much success throughout the late ’80s and straight into the ’90s as a cultural icon. Enthusiasts still love the 959 nowadays and we bring you a wide array of the reasons why it is the coolest of its time.
First Porsche Supercar
The 959 was Porsche’s first-ever supercar to be released. With the definition of a supercar focusing on the highest performing sports cars and often costing over $1 million nowadays, the 959 fits the mold for being a supercar. Overall there were only 345 produced between 1986 and 1993, it remains one of the most sought-after Porsches of all time.
While the 959 did not cost over $1 million when launched, it was still a pricey car that cost $225,000 and combining this with the high performance of the 959, the car was unlike anything ever seen from the brand up to that point. This makes it one of the coolest Porsches of its era, leading a starting point of Porsche supercars and a history we can still see today.
The 959 has a great history in motorsport. The car was initially made for Group B rallying as Porsche wanted to try its new technology and wanted a slice of the explosively popular motorsport series. However, development took much longer than expected and the entrance in the 1985 Dakar rally was done using a 959 body over a 953 chassis and engine.
Having failed with the 953 Porsche used a twin-turbocharger and won the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally, as well as placing second and sixth place. The car was fully ready for production and homologation in 1987 but the Group B program was canceled and the car didn’t have the racing experience many believe it deserved. For these reasons, the 959 is a great car hampered by bad timing, and it would have been great to see what it could have done properly.
Advanced AWD System
The Porsche 959 is one of the first high-performance sports cars to have AWD. This established a serious technological advancement in Porsche’s sports cars and boosted performance significantly. Making the 959 AWD allowed for better performance handling, boosting the car’s dynamics and traction.
The advanced system set a great standard for many other car manufacturers bringing an AWD system to their high-performance cars to boost traction. Without the 959, this wouldn’t have been possible as soon as it was and the 959 was a pioneer here.
The Porsche 959 is an incredibly powerful car. Coming with the 2.8-liter turbocharged flat-6 engine that produces 444 hp, it was capable of high-performance driving. Combining this with the AWD system and fantastic build quality, the car was perfect for racing and being driven incredibly fast.
The 959 can go 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds in both the Sport and Komfort models, making for some swift driving and plenty of enjoyment. The car is one of the best of its period, especially when it was released in 1986 and there weren’t many cars that could compete with its performance levels.
Rare And Collectible
With there being only 345 models of the 959 on the market, the Porshe is a brilliantly collectible car and this makes it very cool for enthusiasts. There were also 37 prototypes and pre-production models made, which isn’t many, and barely anyone can get their hands on a production model or any of the others nowadays.
Also, in 1992 and 1993, Porsche made eight cars specially and these cars were already more expensive than the standard 959 models which were previously released. Coming with a speed-sensitive damper system, these models are more collectible and incredibly difficult to source nowadays with them cherished by collectors.
A 959 was bought by Bill Gates in 1988. However, the car was not legal in the US as Porsche never provided the US Government with four cars for destructive crash testing. Many had attempted to import it as a Grey import vehicle, but this wasn’t very common and Gates’ car was held in customs for 13 years.
However, these issues brought about the “Show or Display” law that allows minimal use of the car, and the car could be displayed in a museum. Now after 25 years, the car can be driven in the US but it has a very cool history and Bill Gates waited long enough to drive his 959.
Helped Shape The Evolution Of The 911
The 959 helped to shape the evolution of the 911 considerably. The AWD system in the car provided the basis for the 911 Carrera 4 as well as the future development of 911 driving systems. The 959 inspired Porsche to make the AWD system the standard on all turbocharged 911 models and this begun with the Porsche 993 in 1994.
At the same time, the twin-turbocharged element of the 959 was used on future Porsche models, showing that the brand has taken plenty of inspiration from the 959 in the past and it has been very successful in shaping the history of Porsche for quite some time now.
There were various features in the 959 that made it technologically advanced. This includes the 959 being the first car to use tire pressure monitors, providing high-performance cars with top tech during the ’80s and this has since gone on to e the standard in most new cars nowadays, showing how ahead of the time Porsche and the 959 were.
The 959 was also the first car to be equipped with active suspension and this meant that it could be lowered by 1.2 inches, making it stiffened for racing and the car could then be heightened for driving on everyday roads, and even being used off-road.
Fastest Car In The World In 1986
The Porsche 959 was the fastest car in the world when it was launched in 1986, going 198 mph at top speed in the Sport models. This is incredible, especially for the 1980s and it remains an impressive figure. There have even been some 959 models that have reached 211 mph, which is outstanding.
The car was dethroned by the Ferrari F40 in 1987 with its 202 mph top speed. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the 959 was the fastest car in the world at launch, a feat that’ll always be remembered.
Won Le Mans
While the Porsche 959 couldn’t make it to Group B rallying, it entered Le Mans. Entering with a track-ready version of the 959, called the 961, the car was very successful. The car was driven by René Metge, who had also driven the car to its win in Dakar, and the car came first in its class.
The 959 came seventh overall, which shows great success and while its success was never repeated, it was very exciting to see the car do so well at Le Mans. This makes the 959 incredibly cool as not every car released can hold this title and reflect such success throughout history.
Porsche-brand vehicles have long been considered fine cars that only the rich own, and these beauties from the 80s are still desired to this day.
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