PORSCHE 959

THE FIRST PUKKA SU­PER­CAR FEA­TURES AT LORBEK

Unique Cars - - TOYBOX - WORDS JOHN BOWE WITH GUY ALLEN PHO­TOS BEN GALLI

EVEN IN A ROOM filled with ex­otic cars, like Lorbek em­po­rium in Mel­bourne, a Porsche 959 stands out. Re­ally, I’d re­gard it as the first of the true road-go­ing su­per­cars, even­tu­ally su­perceded by the Fer­rari F40.

What dis­tin­guishes this car is the out-there styling. You can see that project leader Hel­muth Bott – the en­gi­neeer whose name was tied to 911 se­ries for decades – let en­gi­neer­ing and wind tun­nel needs rule the draw­ing board. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily beau­ti­ful, in my view, but it is pur­pose­ful. Look at fea­tures such as the wild and wide sills, or the huge rear spoiler, which un­like most to­day no doubt works, and you’ll see what I mean.

In­side the car looks and feels very fa­mil­iar – it’s clas­sic Porsche road car. I used to own a 964 Car­rera 4 that looked and felt very sim­i­lar.

Of course it’s the me­chan­i­cals which make this car, and it was the first time Porsche went with the com­bi­na­tion of a twin-turbo and all­wheel-drive in a road car. Ac­tu­ally, ‘road car’ is a pretty loose term, as we’re talk­ing about some­thing that does near enough to 200 miles per hour, or around 317km/h ac­cord­ing to the fig­ures of the day.

You can see the Group B rally in­flu­ences in this car, where it was de­signed for a par­tic­u­larly un­for­giv­ing com­pe­ti­tion. In the end, Porsche ini­tially built this gen­er­a­tion for just three years – 1986-88 – and 337, in­clud­ing test mules/pro­to­types, were built. Four years later, Porsche turned around and made an­other eight ‘Kom­fort’ ver­sions out of left­over

“THAT WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ENOUGH TO COVER THE ENOR­MOUS DE­VEL­OP­MENT COST”

parts stock. In any case, you could never ar­gue this was a com­mer­cial en­ter­prise in its own right, it was more of a brand im­age ex­er­cise.

Though the cars ini­tially were priced at a sky-high US$225,000, that wouldn’t have been enough to cover the enor­mous de­vel­op­ment time that went into them, or the cost of the ex­otic ma­te­ri­als used in their con­struc­tion. At the time, it was said they cost about dou­ble what was charged for them.

Part of the magic was the (for the time) hugely so­phis­ti­cated 4WD sys­tem, which had an adap­tive fea­ture that could dis­trib­ute torque to the wheels most able to de­liver it to the ground.

These days the 331kW (444hp) power fig­ure may not seem so great, but it was a big num­ber from a 2.8lt en­gine and, thanks to the car’s spe­cial con­struc­tion, had just 1450kg to punt along.

The $2.5 mil­lion price tag on this ex­am­ple seems big, but they’ve con­sis­tently gained in value over the years and are on the in­ter­na­tional col­lec­tor radar.

TOP Count­less hours of wind tun­nel work pro­duced this for­mi­da­ble pro­file. BE­LOW LEFT Interior looks supris­ingly fa­mil­iar.

TOP This is a car that will never be mis­taken for some­thing else! BOT­TOM LEFT Se­quen­tial twin tur­bos are part of the magic at work un­der the en­gine cover.

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