The History and Evolution of the Porsche 959

German automobile manufacturer, Porsche, built a famous Helmuth Bott designed sports car called the Porsche 959 from 1986 to 1993. They were first built as Group B rally cars but later they were built as street-legal production cars that were designed for satisfying FIA homologation regulations that require no less than 200 units to be produced.

Concept Car- 1983 Porsche 959

Developing the Porsche 959 actually began in 1981. It was originally dubbed the Gruppe B, not a very sexy name for a sexy sports car so it’s a good thing they changed it. Both the designer, Helmuth Bott, and Porsche’s new managing director, Peter Schutz, knew that their company was sorely in need of a sports car that could be relied upon for many years to come. They also knew that the 959 could continue to be fully developed over time.

Using an Existing Porsche Engine

They decided to develop an existing engine in lieu of the creation of an all-new one. They started with a twin-turbocharged flat-six 4-valves-per-cylinder engine with Bosch Motronic fuel injection, air-cooled cylinders, and water-cooled heads. It had a displacement of 2,849 ccs (2.8 L; 173.9 cu in). It also had a rather unique manual transmission with five forward speeds and a special off-road gear, along with reverse, of course.

The 1983 Unveiling

Porsche chose the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show to unveil their Porsche Group B prototype. They had modified the body, adding air vents in both of the wheel housings on the front and rear. They also placed intake holes in the back of the doors. Unfortunately, this prototype, which was named the F3, was completely destroyed in the initial crash test.

The 1985 Road Version Debut

The Porsche 959 road version had its debut in 1985 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The production itself was delayed for an additional year, however, due to a number of issues. The production car came with two different trim levels, the “Sport” and the “Komfort”. Initial deliveries to customers started in 1987 at $225,000 each. Production of the Porsche 959 ceased in 1988 after 292 of them had been made. All told, 337 were built and that included 37 pre-production models and prototypes. There are currently at least one 959, as well as one 961 remaining in Stuttgart, Germany in the Porsche Historic Hall.

Eight More Later Built in 92/93

Then, in 1992/1993, the company built an additional eight 959s. They were put together using spare parts from leftover inventory at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen manufacturing site. They were all “Komfort” versions and four were red while four others were silver. They also featured a recently developed damper system that was speed-sensitive. The eight cars were sold to a select group of collectors and, to this day, they are the ultimate in sought-after Porsche 959s.

Twin Turbo-Charged For the Future

Back when it was first introduced to the world, the twin-turbocharged Porsche 959 laid claim to being the fastest street-legal production car in the world. It had the ability to achieve a top speed of 197 mph. And, with a few variations, it could even achieve 211 miles per hour. Back in the midst of its production run, the Porsche 959 held the top spot worldwide as the one road-worthy sports car that was absolutely the most technologically-advanced that had ever been built. It was also called the forerunner of all sports cars to come in the future.


It was also one of the preeminent high-performance cars that came complete with all-wheel-drive. That gave Porsche the basis for their initial all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4. And then, the 911’s superior performance persuaded the company’s executives that making all-wheel-drive a standard feature on all turbocharged 911 versions was an excellent idea.

Porsche 959 Performance

Test results for the 959 “Sport” (450 PS):

  • 0–60 mph (97 km/h): 3.6 s
  • 0–100 mph (161 km/h): 8.2 s
  • 0–100 km/h (62.1 mph): 3.7 s
  • 0–120 km/h (74.6 mph): 5.1 s
  • 0–140 km/h (87.0 mph): 6.3 s
  • 0–160 km/h (99.4 mph): 7.9 s
  • 0–180 km/h (111.8 mph): 9.6 s
  • 0–200 km/h (124.3 mph): 11.4 s
  • 0–400 m ( 1⁄4 mile): 11.8 s @ 202 km/h (126 mph)
  • 0–1 km: 21.6 s @ 245 km/h (152.2 mph)
  • Top Speed: 198 mph (319 km/h

Test results for the 959 “Komfort” version (450 PS):

  • 0–30 mph (48 km/h): 1.5 s
  • 0–40 mph (64 km/h): 2.2 s
  • 0–50 mph (80 km/h): 2.9 s
  • 0–60 mph (97 km/h): 3.6 s
  • 0–70 mph (113 km/h): 4.8 s
  • 0–80 mph (129 km/h): 5.8 s
  • 0–90 mph (145 km/h): 7.1 s
  • 0–100 mph (161 km/h): 8.8 s
  • 0–110 mph (177 km/h): 10.4 s
  • 0–120 mph (193 km/h): 12.4 s
  • 0–130 mph (209 km/h): 15.9 s
  • 0–140 mph (225 km/h): 19.2 s
  • 0–150 mph (241 km/h): 22.5 s
  • 30 mph (48 km/h)-50 mph (80 km/h): 11.9 s, using 6th gear (~1786 rpm @ 50 mph)
  • 50 mph (80 km/h)-70 mph (113 km/h): 8.8 s, using 6th gear
  • Standing 1⁄4 mile (402m): 12.0 s @ 116 mph (187 km/h)
  • Braking 70-0 mph: 166 ft (113–0 km/h: 50 m)
  • Top speed: 197 mph (317 km/h)

Porsche 959-Top Sports Car of the 1980s

In 2004, the Porsche 959 was named number one by Sports Car International on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 80s. A fitting title for an amazing iconic sports car that everybody would love to own!

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