Whether for its sheer horsepower, acceleration, top speed or original list price – car enthusiasts of the 1980s and 90s will certainly remember the Porsche 959 as the trump card of its time. A super sports car with a top speed of 315 km/h, just 292 examples were produced by Porsche.
Former racing driver Nick Heidfeld owns the even rarer Sport version, of which only 29 were built. It’s more powerful, boasts 515 PS and reaches a top speed of 339 km/h. And this collector’s item has another record-breaking string to its bow as well: low mileage. Heidfeld’s 959 S had just 4,183 kilometres on the odometer when he took it to Porsche Classic in the summer of 2017.
The Porsche 959 was one of the most fascinating cars of its time. Porsche presented the ‘Group B’ study, designed to meet the regulations for this spectacular rally class, at the IAA. In the 1986 Paris Dakar Rally, all three 959s finished the race, taking first, second and sixth place.
The production model made its debut at the IAA in 1985. Its innovations included speed-sensitive and adjustable shock absorbers, self-levelling suspension, electronically controlled variable all-wheel drive with driving programme selection and ABS, a tyre pressure monitoring system and an aerodynamically optimised body (Cd 0.31).
Nick Heidfeld’s 959 was already in need of an extensive technical overhaul: “If such a technologically innovative car is not driven regularly, storage damage is, unfortunately, unavoidable,” says Uwe Makrutzki, Head of Factory Restoration at Porsche Classic. “The powertrain and chassis have to be overhauled in their entirety; experience has shown that any reduction to the scope of work leads to problems down the road.”
Like all owners of a classic Porsche, those with a 959 in their garage benefit from the unique expertise and equipment of this fully integrated department of the company: when production of the super sports car came to an end, Porsche Classic took ownership of all the testing and restoration tools from all areas of the factory. Added to that is a great deal of experience with this rare model: “Almost all 959s have been with us at least once in their life,” says Makrutzki. “So we have had a lot of practice. Thanks to the highly complex technology, however, a 959 overhaul is always a very special and wonderful mission.”
In the case of Heidfeld’s 959 S, the diagnosis revealed, among other things, that the engine management system had been modified. In consultation with the owner, Porsche Classic staff restored the Motronic unit to its original condition.
To ensure the repair is a long-term success, Makrutzki advises regular outings: “Covering around 100 kilometres in mixed operation at least once a month provides protection from damage due to standing still. That’s also what the feedback from our customers has shown.”
The now restored 959 S was originally built to the following specification in 1987:
|Porsche 959 S|
|Kerb weight (DIN)||kg||1,350|
|Engine||Number of cylinders/arrangement||Six-cylinder boxer|
|Gearbox/powertrain||6 speed/all-wheel drive|
|Power output||kW/PS at rpm||379/515 at 6,900|
|Torque||Nm at rpm||561 at 6,500|
|Acceleration 0 – 100 km/h||sec.||3,7|
|Base price (1987)||DM||420.000|