Rare Rides: A 1988 Porsche 959 for Over One Million Dollars

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 1988 porsche 959 for over one million dollars

Silver on the outside, and multi-shaded maroon on the inside, this Porsche 959 is the most expensive car we’ve featured in the Rare Rides series to date. What do you get for $1.25 million dollars, aside from service visits costing $100,000?

As you prepare to sell off your mixed security holdings, let’s find out.

Development of this chunky supercar started out back in 1981. Looking to the future, Porsche decided it might be time to test the limits of the 911’s rear-engine setup. The company set its engineers to work on developing a new, modern sports car with the same spirit as the 911. As the project went along, Porsche set its sights on testing the new model in a rally environment.

The 959 made its debut as a Group B rally racer in 1986. Entry into the series meant Porsche had to produce at least 200 road-ready examples to comply with homologation regulations. Thus became the consumer version of the 959.

The road-legal version immediately took the title for the world’s fastest street-legal production car. The top speed of the 959 was 195 miles per hour in the roadgoing Comfort version, or 197 for the racing (Sport) version.

Technology was another best with the 959. Hailed as the most technologically advanced road car ever made, it was one of the first super performance vehicles to feature all-wheel drive. This set the stage for future supercar designs from other manufacturers, as well as for Carrera 4 models and later 911 Turbos.

The swooping body was comprised of a composite containing aluminum and Kevlar, and the floor a flame-resistant Nomex. This kept overall weight down to a quite respectable 3,200 pounds. That figure is roughly the same as a four-cylinder Toyota Camry from 2005. All 959s were built by Baur rather than at Porsche, with oversight from Porsche inspection employees.

At the back rests a twin-turbo six-cylinder boxer engine displacing 2.85 litres. All 959s had a six-speed manual transmission, which was composed of five forward gearings, and a G off road gear. A unique characteristic of the turbos on the 959 was their sequential nature, rather than a common identical setup. This allowed for smooth power delivery, unlike the on-off turbocharging of contemporary turbocharged Porsches.

That engine produced 444 horsepower, and powered the 959 from 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds, and on to 100 miles an hour in 8.8 seconds. Its shocking performance was not easily bested. For reference, the Ferrari Enzo came to market in 2002, and managed 0-60 in 3.1 seconds, and 100 mph in 6.7.

Production of the road-going 959 ended in 1988, after 292 examples rolled off the assembly line. Sold for $225,000 each, that figure was less than half of what it cost Porsche to build each 959. Porsche did produce eight more 959s between 1992 and 1993 using spare inventory.

Today’s 1988 example is on offer in Portland, waiting for someone to offer up the aforementioned $1,250,000 for the pleasure of sitting in its brown seats. Hey, at least there are four of them in there.

[Images via seller]

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  • IHateCars IHateCars on Feb 20, 2018

    Always loved the 959, I had a few buddies in my high school years at the time who were attending the American School in Switzerland for their GED. While they were tooling around Lugano prior to classes starting the next day they came across a new silver 959 with a very well dressed older woman loading her day's shopping in it. She saw them ogling the car and asked my buddy if he wanted a closer look and they spent the next half an hour chatting with her, she let them sit in it and take pics. I still have a few of those photos....I was sooooo jealous!

  • Healthy skeptic Healthy skeptic on Feb 20, 2018

    By all accounts I've read, this car was 10-20 years ahead of it's time. It was the only supercar poster I had up in my bedroom, given to me as a gift from the dealer when my grandfather bought his Porsche. I saw one on the streets of San Francisco about 10-12 years ago. I was walking up a long uphill freeway overpass to Potrero Hill. Behind me, down in the Dogpatch, I could hear what sounded like a highly souped up rice rocket tearing around...except that the engine sounded too large. Then I heard the car get onto the overpass behind me. I turned and saw a sliver 959 go rocketing *uphill* past me like it'd been shot out of a catapult.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
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  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?