This Porsche 959 is packed with tech, and custom touches
The Porsche 959 is an all-wheel-drive, twin-turbocharged, homologation car that packed everything Stuttgart knew about speed and handling into what was the world’s first true supercar. The 959 represented the pinnacle of Porsche’s technological know-how, and it did not disappoint. The car remains no less impressive 33 years after its debut.
Porsche started developing the 959 in the early 1980s with an eye toward Group B rally racing. It’s engine strayed from the 911’s air-cooled heritage by using water-cooled cylinder heads atop air-cooled cylinders. Twin turbochargers worked sequentially, all but eliminating lag to provide smooth acceleration from idle to the 7,300 rpm redline. The engine produced 444 horsepower–an amazing figure for the time–and used a six-speed manual gearbox. The all-wheel-drive system used sophisticated electronics and an array of sensors to continually manage how all that power hit the pavement.
The car could hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and do the quarter in 12 seconds flat at 116 mph–figures that are still stupid-fast today. The driver could adjust engine and suspension settings on the fly, and the self-leveling suspension adapted to vehicle speed to ensure the car’s aerodynamic aids worked properly.
Although designed for Group B, the car’s development took longer than expected. By the time Porsche built the 200 cars needed to homologate the car for racing in 1986, Group B racing was on the way out. With little to gain by rallying the car for a single season, Porsche made a pivot to endurance racing. The 959 provided the foundation for the 961, which took first in class and seventh overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1986. The 959 also did some off-road racing, including a 1-2 finish in the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally.
Those few people lucky enough to get a road-going 959 could work with Porsche’s “Exclusive Manufaktur” department to build the supercar of their dreams. 7 such models were customized in paint-to-sample colors, custom interiors, even street legal race cars.
And that brings us to this 1988 Porsche 959 currently available through RM Sotheby’s private sales department. This final-year model features exotic features commissioned by Dr. Friedrich Christian Flick, one of Germany’s most prominent collectors of modern art. In addition to the three factory options–sports seats with electric height adjustment, heated front seats, and an alarm—the car also received a CDR-210 radio and steering wheel embossed with the Porsche crest long before Stuttgart started offering such bespoke touches.
The paint-to-sample black makes this just one of three 959s to wear that color. It contrasts beautifully with the rich caramel brown leather interior highlighted by black stitching. Even the window switches and air vents got the leather treatment to make clear this is not a regular 959.
The suspension received an upgrade, and the car, with just 42,000 kilometers (roughly 26,000 miles), now rides on more conventional (and sharper handling) coil-overs instead of the electronically adjustable dampers it rolled out of the factory with. That said, the original hardware is included in the sale should the next owner wish to restore everything to stock.
Now on its third owner, this black exotic holds the record for highest sale price of a 959 Komfort at $1,732,500 at the Gooding & Co. Pebble Beach auction 2015. The current asking price is undisclosed, but according to Hagerty Vehicle Data Specialist Greg Ingold, the market for 959s reached its peak in January of 2016. Currently a #1-condition 1988 959 Komfort is valued at $1.3 million, thanks to a drop in the market in early 2017, so we are not likely to see the same car set a record twice.