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.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • 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?
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