What do you get when you lock 50 or so German engineers in a room and ask them to develop “the ultimate sports car”? Oh, and without budget limitations? Well, in 1984, that’s exactly what Porsche did.
The Porsche 959 redefined the sports car market at the very high end – where there are no compromises on performance or limitations on cost. Alongside Lamborghini’s Countach and Ferrari’s F40 and 288 GTO, the 959 was a “poster car” for a generation of automotive enthusiasts. Porsche broke the mold and defined what a supercar was through the pursuit of technological innovation, pioneering concepts such as an anti-lock brake system, the world’s first tire pressure monitoring system, and a full-time hydraulically controlled all-wheel-drive system.
The 959 engine is a close derivative of the race engine used in the 962 and featured the world’s only sequential twin-turbo system, designed with both low-rpm and high-rpm turbos that work together to reduce turbo lag. The suspension system has dual shocks (one air and one hydraulic) on all four corners, which allows for adjustment between a sporty or comfort ride, as well as ride-height adjustment while driving. The viscous-clutch four-wheel drive system utilizes multiple inputs to a computer that then distributes power to each wheel based upon acceleration and road conditions.
This early 1987 959 is one of a very small handful of 959s that have been federalized and licensed for street use in California. It has been enjoyed and regularly driven while in single enthusiast ownership for the past decade. Having been delivered new in Germany, this 959 was one of two that were imported together to the U.S. in the early 2000s. Upon arrival in the U.S., the pair of 959s was sent to G&K Automotive Services to be brought into federal compliance for American road use. Going a step further, this 959 was licensed in California and still retains its California state B.A.R. compliance sticker. It is important to note that all of this 959’s engine management systems and control computers are original – it has not been converted to the later MoTeC system. The only modification the owner is aware of is the addition of catalytic converters integrated into a custom-manufactured muffler.
A clean CARFAX report on file shows that the car was first registered in California in 2001. When it was imported into the U.S., the decision was made to repaint the car from its original shade of Graphite Grey Metallic to jet gloss Black. It is understood that this was performed at the request of the original importer who kept this 959 as his personal car and preferred the solid color to the original metallic hue.
In 2007, the 959 came into its present custodianship when it was purchased by Wayne R. Dempsey, founder of Pelican Parts, and author of best-selling Porsche books How to Rebuild and Modify Porsche 911 Engines and 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911. Having owned several Porsche 962 race cars, this California street-legal 959 with its 962-derived powerplant fit perfectly into Dempsey’s impressive collection of prototype racing Porsche cars. It was driven sparingly but regularly and was often seen at shows and events throughout Southern California.
During Dempsey’s ownership, this 959 has been serviced and maintained by the staff at Pelican Parts, who have replaced numerous components, including all four hydraulic accumulators, all four adjustable Bilstein air shocks, and the complete set of brake pads and rotors—approximately $50,000 in parts alone. It is worth noting that this car retains the original ride height adjustable 959 suspension setup, which has been deleted from many of the 959s on the road today.
An impressive complement of factory items and accessories accompany the car, including a complete tool kit, first aid kit, air compressor, torque wrench, wheel removal tool, hazard triangle, and jack. In addition, the owner’s manual and original VIN-stamped warranty book are included, along with an original “unobtainium” 959 factory cassette tape. A unique selection of factory Porsche 959 press materials, the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, a “Special Edition Certificate,” and a copy of the Art and Car edition of Porsche 959 by Jürgen Lewandowski are also included. A brand-new factory 959 mph speedometer is also provided with the car, for the new owner to convert the gauge cluster from km to mph if so desired. This extensive collection of memorabilia also includes a copy Porsche Sixty Years by Randy Leffingwell, which features this 959 as an exceptional original example of the model. The icing on the cake is an original WABCO brake system diagnostic tester and a 959 code reader – both extremely rare items of great value to all 959 mechanics.
Today with just under 41,000 km (25,350 miles) recorded, this 959 is an excellent driving machine, and upon inspection shows no evidence of any prior accident damage. It has been cared for and professionally maintained by enthusiastic owners over the years, having been enjoyed in the personal collection of a noted Porsche performance aficionado for the past decade. The result is a car that boasts a substantial level of originality throughout – even the air conditioning works!
Now coming to market for the first time in many years, this 959 is a fine example of the definitive supercar of the 1980s.