The Porsche 959 is the car remembered for integrating the still relatively new world of technology into the automotive drivetrain – making it an elegant alternative to the Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari F40 which both relied on traditional thundering engines and hairy-chested drivers to set competitive lap times.
Porsche began the development of the 959 in 1981 under the code name “Gruppe B”, a name chosen using predictably logical German reasoning: the 959 was destined to race in Group B rally. As fate would have it the Group B class would see its final season in 1986 – the year the 959 was introduced. As a result, no 959 was ever rallied in the now legendary class but as a consolation Porsche did take a popular 1-2 finish in the 1986 Paris-Dakar.
From a technology perspective the 959 was a revelation, its body was a combination of aluminium and Kevlar composite and the floor was Nomex. Porsche decided to take a pre-existing engine with known attributes and modify it for use in the Gruppe B prototype and eventual 959 road car – saving cost and resulting in an engine that was pushed past 440hp whilst remaining exceptionally reliable.
Porsche developed a twin-sequential-turbocharging system for the 959 that resulted in significantly reduced turbo-lag and improved throttle response, the engine itself had a displacement of just 2847cc and used the tried and tested 6-cylinder boxer layout with air-cooled cylinders and water-cooled heads.
Perhaps the one feature on the 959 that set it apart the most was the complex Porsche-Steuer Kupplung (PSK) all-wheel drive system capable of dynamically shifting power between the front and rear wheels depending on traction and driving conditions. Under hard acceleration the PSK would send 80% or more of the available power to the rear wheels. The dashboard had a dedicated display for the PSK system that would show the amount of rear differential slip and the percentage of power being sent to the front wheels – this computerized traction control system was a very new concept in the mid-1980s and Porsche’s remarkable success with it led to them being awarded valuable consultancy contracts with other automakers right the way through into the late-1990s.
The 959 you see here is one of only 29 Factory Stage II examples ever produced and as a result it’s valued at somewhere in the $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 range, that said I’ll be interested to see what this one sells for when it rolls across the block with Gooding & Co. at The Scottsdale Auctions on the 16th of January 2015 in Arizona.
If you’d like to visit the official listing for the car you can click here to visit Gooding & Co.
All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. Photos by Mike Maez and Brian Henniker.
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.