Engine Number: 65H00150
Sale Date Result Pre-Auction Estimates Auction House
January 2014 $759,000 RM Auctions
August 2015 $1,210,000 +37.27% $1,000,000 – $1,300,000 RM Auctions
1988 Porsche 959 Sport
One of Only 29 Examples Built | Extremely Rare Factory Stage II Specification
Estimate: $1,500,000 – $2,000,000
The Porsche 959 is a sports car manufactured by Porsche from 1986 to 1989, first as a Group B rally car and later as a legal production car designed to satisfy FIA homologation regulations requiring at least 200 street legal units be built.
When it was introduced, the twin-turbocharged 959 was the world’s fastest street-legal production car, boasting a top speed of 195 miles per hour (314 km/h), with the sport model capable of reaching 197 miles per hour (317 km/h). During its production run it was hailed as the most technologically advanced road-going sports car ever built, and forerunner of all future super cars. It was one of the first high-performance vehicles with all-wheel drive, providing the basis for Porsche’s first all-wheel drive Carrera 4 model. Its performance convinced Porsche executives to make all-wheel drive standard on all 911 Turbos starting with the 993.
In 2004, Sports Car International named the 959 number one on its list of Top Sports Cars of the 1980s.
Porsche 959: Buying guide and review (1987-1988)
When Porsche’s engineering chief set project leader Manfred Bantle the brief of building a car capable of competing in the toughest off-road rallies as well as endurance racing, little did he know what the proposed solution would be.
The Gruppe B concept that resulted – along with the 959 homologation special that it sired – would be among the most complex roadgoing cars ever created up to that point. To be eligible for Group B racing Porsche would have to build at least 200 examples of the 959
Part of the car’s appeal lay in its twin-turbo 2.85-litre flat six that developed a heady 450bhp to give a 197mph top speed, along with 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds. A complex four-wheel drive transmission helped deploy this power, to make high-speed driving as drama-free as possible.
The rear-mounted engine fed its power through a six-speed transaxle driving the rear wheels while a driveshaft fed a second differential driving the front wheels. A hydraulic clutch allowed the torque split to be varied anywhere between the normal 20:80 and 50:50 front:rear. It doesn’t sound that amazing now, but back then it was revolutionary, and as a result the 959 is still something deeply special.
Which one to buy?
The 959’s cabin is based on the 964’s, so while this may seem like a stupid thing to suggest – make sure that what you’re buying is a genuine 959. Over the years there have been some 964-based replicas offered and to the untrained eye they can look pretty convincing. That’s until you remove the front and rear covers; then the 959’s complexity is there for all to see.
All 959s were left-hand drive but UK cars got a speedometer in mph rather than kph.
A car that still sports its original tool kit is very desirable. Stored in a leather pouch, the roster of tools runs to a centre-lock wheelnut socket along with a top-quality torque wrench. All cars came with a huge spec; the only options were heated seats, an alarm and sports seats with electric height adjustment.
Buyers could choose from Comfort or Sport editions when new, but just half a dozen or so of the latter were built. These were stripped of the variable ride height, central locking, electric windows, air-con and even the passenger-side door mirror. In the process 100kg was lost, but Porsche didn’t charge any less, which is why just about everyone opted for the Comfort edition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the Sport model that is the most valuable today (see prices below).
Performance and specs
Porsche 959 Comfort
Engine 2850cc, twin-turbo six-cylinder
Power 450bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque 369lb ft @ 5500rpm
Top speed 197mph
Fuel consumption 20mpg
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Kerb weight 1450kg
• Plenty of 959s have been damaged over the years and while most have been repaired to a very high standard, some have been bodged. The kevlar and aluminium body panels need specialist attention so ensure everything lines up properly – all gaps should be tight and even. At this price level, there really is no excuse for poor workmanship.
• Check the aluminium metal doorskins, which are easily distorted. A knock on the door-mounted mirror can lead to the doorskin being damaged.
• Any parts unique to the 959 are hugely expensive. Some parts look very similar to the contemporary 911 but they’re not the same.
• The 959 was originally fitted with centre locking magnesium alloy wheels, which were designed to work specifically with the Dunlop ‘Denlock’ tyre bead locking system. Today, Bridgestone produce RE71 tires to the correct Porsche size and specification, however getting hold of a fresh set can be difficult as production is extremely limited. That’s why it’s worth checking the condition and age of the rubber currently fitted to the car.
• There are also lots of parts that aren’t available any more, such as the engine cover. When it was last listed, you’d have had to pay over £11,000 to buy a new one. So be very careful about buying a car that’s got any missing or damaged parts as they may be irreplaceable, or obscenely expensive.
• The 959’s engine isn’t based on the 911’s; instead it’s derived from the flat-six found in the 935 and 956 racers. While the cylinder barrels are air-cooled, the four-valve double-overhead cam heads are water-cooled.
• Few 959s have covered a significant mileage so engine problems are more likely to stem from a lack of use, rather than wear. Cars driven sparingly can work fine if maintained properly, so make sure the engine has been started regularly and the oil and coolant changed frequently too; the latter helps prevent internal corrosion.
• The PSK (Porsche-Steuer Kupplung) four-wheel drive system is very complex and not always reliable. The front and rear differentials are both fitted with clutches and oil pumps that can play up, so see if any warning lights illuminate on the test drive and feel for any jerkiness when accelerating through the gears.
• Most of these cars are used very sparingly, so a conditioner should be used to keep the battery in good nick. Replacing the Bosch battery is a pain, so make sure that what’s fitted works okay.
1983: The Gruppe B concept is shown at the Frankfurt motor show in October. It features a twin-turbo 2.85-litre flat-six, four-wheel drive plus lots of carbon-fibre and kevlar in its construction.
1985: Porsche enters the Paris-Dakar Rally with three 959s fitted with 230bhp 3.2 Carrera engines. All three retired through mechanical failure. At the Frankfurt motor show the production 959 is shown. Priced at $225,000, Porsche loses money on each one.
1986: Another three cars are entered into the Paris-Dakar with detuned 959 engines. This time they come first, second and fifth.
1987: The first deliveries of road-going 959s begin in September.
1988: The final car is built. The production-car tally is 292 along with 37 prototypes and pre-production cars.
1992: Another eight cars are built from spare parts. Sold to selected collectors, these cars feature speed-sensitive suspension and are now hugely collectible.
“In 1992/1993, Porsche built eight 959s assembled from spare parts from the inventory at the manufacturing site in Zuffenhausen. All eight were ‘Komfort’-versions: four in red and four in silver. These cars were much more expensive (DM 747,500) than the earlier ones (DM 420,000). The later cars also featured a newly developed speed-sensitive damper system. The cars were sold to selected collectors after being driven by works personnel for some time and are today by far the most sought-after 959s.” Source: Wikipedia.
t’s important to understand just how advanced the 959 was for the time. It had an all-wheel-drive system with driver-selectable torque split, adjustable ride height, hollow-spoke magnesium wheels, tire-pressure monitoring, and a six-speed gearbox. Even though the engine was air-cooled as dictated by Porsche tradition, it used water-cooled cylinder heads and twin turbos operating in sequence. This wasn’t just a regular 911 Turbo engine with some new tech, either: It was largely similar to the motor that powered the 936 and the Le Mans-dominating 956 and 962, though in a more road-friendly state of tune.
“There is no doubt that Porsche has produced the fastest and technically most advanced car yet offered for road use,” wrote Paul Frère and Dennis Simanaitis in their July 1986 review of the 959 for Road & Track. It also set the tone for Porsche road cars to come, which have grown increasingly innovative in the 30 years since we first drove the 959.
This level of technical achievement on the 959 was huge for Porsche, a small, independent company back then—not the juggernaut it is today. But to make such an expensive car was also a major financial drain for the company, which is why Porsche stopped production early in 1988.
While this is all fairly common knowledge for die-hard Porsche fans, here’s something that’s not: Apparently Porsche had enough extra parts left over after the car’s run that it was able to re-start 959 production in 1992 to build a limited number of examples.
Porsche had made a total of eight 959s in 1992—four red, four silver.
What is known is that Porsche built 294 Komfort-spec 959s in total, and an additional 29 “Sport” models that aren’t counted in the run of 294. Porsche is fairly certain that the last Komfort to leave the factory in 1988 when production officially ended was chassis #288. But according to its records, the total number of chassis serials go up to #294.
“Porsche calculated what they thought it was gonna cost to build the car, entered it in the contracts to sell the car based on that, and then when they started building the cars realized that their production cost was higher than what they were selling the cars for,” Canepa says. “They were already tied to the contract, so they couldn’t go back and say, ‘We’re changing your contract price.'”
The cost for a Komfort-spec 959 was about $300,000, but according to Ludvingsen’s Excellence Was Expected, each car cost Porsche around $720,000 to build. The total cost of the 959 project was said to be around $204 million. With losses like that, you start to see why Porsche wanted to give up building its ultimate technological statement. In the U.S., Porsche didn’t even attempt to get the 959s certified, just so the company could cancel its contracts.
“[Porsche] honored the contract, but what they basically were hoping for at some point was [that] if these cars don’t certify for the U.S. in terms of crash standards and emissions, in the contract it allowed for Porsche to cancel the contract and refund your deposit,”
The cost of federalizing the 959 was so high that it could have taken the company down, so all U.S. contracts were canceled.
Porsche ended up with enough leftover tubs and parts to build a the 6 additional 959s.
Summary and prices
Although undervalued for many years, the 959 has risen sharply in recent years.
Condition and mileage play a big part in values, though, so an ultra-low mileage car could very much be worth a significant premium over something with a few miles under its belt.
The very rare Sport model carries a huge premium
Competition-spec long-distance rally cars. Although rarely seen out in public, let alone on sale, these could quite easily sell for twice the price of a regular 959.
Since the majority of 959s are now more than 25 years old, importation of cars like this 1988 example has been open, which is good news for American car collectors and enthusiasts.
959 is an extremely rare car with only 337 produced, the 1988 “Sport” model, of which there were only 29 produced (37 if you include the 8 cars built from spare parts)The 959 Sport versions have different seats incorporating racing-style harnesses, no A/C , no rear seat , an “S” steering wheel, factory leather-wrapped roll bar structure, and a more standard-fare coil over strut suspension, rather than the height-adjustable air suspension.
Porsche 959 Comfort Silver Metallic 1987 28000km for sale
Porsche 959 Comfort for sale ask me
Serial WP0ZZZ95ZHS900108 Silver $1,320,000
WPOZZZ95ZHS900125 Red/Black Wheels $1,457,500
WP0ZZZ95ZJS900140 Silver 03.1988 38’000 km, CHF 1’300’000.-
WP0ZZZ95ZJS900143 Grey 03.1988 Sold in auction usd 770.000