Without This Porsche 959 There Would Be No Nissan GT-R

Broad Arrow

There’s a chapter in the story of the Group B homologation special 959 that Porsche would rather be not there at all. In fact the German sports car maker did everything it could to avoid it.

The 959’s awesome all-wheel-drive system proved its potential by winning the grueling Paris-Dakar rally outright and coming first in class at Le Mans in 1986. Even though the cancellation of the Group B category meant it could no longer race Porsche had committed to building around 300 examples and, across the world, Nissan was watching.

The Japanese firm was working on an all-wheel drive system of its own and a close-up look at the 959’s drivetrain would certainly speed things along. With its traditional Japanese respect for proper process and decorum Nissan initially attempted to order a car direct from the factory, but, after Porsche rejected it, Nissan took a more Ninja-like approach. The car—a 1988 959 Komfort, chassis number 022—was eventually bought by an intermediary from Belgian distributor D’Ieteren Brothers and then shipped to Yokohama for study.

Nissan never registered the car in Japan, instead disassembling it to discover its intricate inner workings. By 1987 Nissan had perfected its Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All terrains and Electronic Torque Split (ATTESA-ET-S) and installed it in the R32 GT-R. In race trim the GT-R won every All-Japan Touring Car Championship race from 1990 to 1993 and a legend was born.

With no further use for the 959, Nissan put it back together and sold it to a Nissan engineer who also refrained from registering it. Eventually the 959 found its way to the U.S.A. where, in 2019, the owner took it to specialist Bruce Canepa for a transformation under his “959 SC Reimagined” program. It took four years, 4000 hours, and $950,000 to convert the car, much of which went into upgrading the 2.8-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine from 444 hp to more than 800 hp. It’s now said to be capable of reaching 60 mph from a standstill in 2.5 seconds and topping out at over 230 mph.

The original shade of Oak Green paint and gunmetal gray for the 18-inch wheels were retained but the cabin was re-trimmed in tobacco brown leather with matching square-weave carpets modeled on those of the Porsche 356.

This remarkable car with an even more remarkable backstory will be for sale at Broad Arrow’s Amelia Auction on February 29 where it’s estimated to fetch up to $3.75 million.

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Broad Arrow




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