Porsche 959 - one of the most versatile racing cars
The Porsche 959 is not just a sports car, but also the world’s fastest street legal production car of its time, manufactured from 1986 to 1989. The machine was first only produced as a Group B rally car and later as a legal production car designed to meet FIA homologation regulations requiring at least 200 street-legal units to be built in one year.
Best sports car of the ’80s
This model was one of the first high performance cars with an all-wheel drive, providing the base for Porsche’s Carrera 4 model. Later, Porsche 959 by many was named the best sports car of the 1980s and also achieved some success in racing.
By 1985, the Porsche 959 rally model was ready to compete in the Paris – Dakar rally, but the start was disappointing as all three cars hadn’t been road-tested and failed to finish the most demanding race of the world. But, next year was much better as Porsche 959 finished first and second thanks to Rene Metge and Dominique Le Moyne.
That winning model was almost identical to the production model having ditched temperamental elements like ABS and additional turbo-chargers. The twin-turbo engine was detuned to 400hp to drink lower quality fuel available in Africa, and the car had no height adjustment in the suspension, so the ground clearance was increased.
Some of Group B rally cars were Lancia Delta S4, Audi Quattro Sport and Peugeot 205 T16, but Porsche 959 never entered a serious competition with them as it was too big, too heavy and, finally, too expensive to run the whole rally season.
Paris – Dakar and Le Mans success
Choosing Paris – Dakar rally, with the famous Jacky Ickx as prime motivator, was a very clever decision as it was the most famous rally competition all over the world. Porsche undoubtely was the most expensive car to compete at Paris – Dakar. Another factor in favour of choosing the Paris – Dakar rally was the possibility to test 959’s reliability in the hardest and most demanding conditions and this proved to be the perfect endorsement for Porsche.
Video: Porsche 959 Dakar story
Porsche 959’s success didn’t stop there; one of the crashed cars from the 1985 event was rebuilt by a privateer and won the 1986 Rallye des Pharaohs, another prestigious desert rally. The 959 was also successful on the track. Model 961, based on Porsche 959, won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans proving that 959 was possibly one of the most versatile competition cars ever.