Because it’s an off week for Formula One, but mostly because I have been very, very lax with this, it’s time to get the ninth car into my 10 car garage. This time I have chosen a German car that has gained cult status pretty much all over the world. It is ultra, super duper rare and wasn’t even legally allowed into the United States without much modifying. It is the Porsche 959 and it is most definitely in my top ten.
One of the best things about the 959 is the rarity. It was built from 1986 to 1989 and started life as a homologation rally car project. Because you needed to have a road going version of the same vehicle to satisfy the FIA, Porsche went ahead and built more than the 200 required to make the race car legal. One interesting fact that I heard one time was that this car was so technologically advanced for its time that it had more computing power than the spacecraft that landed on the moon in 1969. Of course, by this time, that may not have been that hard to do, but it was still a great way to advertise such a potent machine. And potent wasn’t even the tip of it. The 959 was powered by a twin-turbo horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine of roughly 2.9 liters. The power from the engine amounted to an eye-watering (for the time anyway – and still enough for me today) 444 horsepower and went to all four wheels. This power, combined with low weight and the surge from the two turbos, allowed the car to rocket to 60 mph in around 3.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of about 200 mph.
But what makes this car so special for me is the rarity. Because there were only a total of 337 (give or take for those existing still today and the fakes on the market) and the fact that you couldn’t even get one in North America originally without going through a boatload of red tape, this car holds a distinction that not many cars do. If you ever happen to see one in real life, take the opportunity to stop and look at it because you might never, and probably will never, see another one as long as you live. It’s like seeing a snow leopard in the wild. That is to say that it is extremely rare. Of course the other great thing about the car is the way it looks. Yes it has that Porsche-ness to it, but it looks a little more subdued from the front, while the long tail hides that gem of an engine. It’s a very unassuming car that doesn’t rely on the big bold looks of a supercar like a Diablo or the F40 of the same era. If you drove one of these 959s in the same company with those, no one would pay it any attention. And that’s what I like. It’s a supercar for people who want other people to think they are just driving around in an old 911. Of course, all you have to do is open up the throttle and they will get very small in your rearview mirror very quickly.