Motoring Trailblazers - Porsche 959

Tue 8th Jan 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Porsche 959
The world’s fastest production road-car when it finally debuted to an expectant public in 1987, Porsche had already been working on the development of the 959 for six years as a Group B rally-car. The twin-turbocharged 959 could achieve a top speed of 197mph and on release was considered to be the most technologically advanced road-going sports car ever built.

The first high-performance vehicle with all-wheel drive, this Porsche was a forerunner for the excellent all-weather traction sports cars which the German manufacturer would become synonymous with.

As well as the all-wheel drive system, Porsche innovated with unique magnesium alloy wheel, which were hollowed out inside to form a sealed chamber and included a built-in tire pressure monitoring system.

After being showcased to the public at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show and was due to be released to buyers one year later, but suffered from production issues which meant that the car didn’t the market until 1987.

The Porsche 959 came with two trims, ‘Sport’ and ‘Komfort’, one for the track style and one for the easy driver. Even with a purchase price of $225,000 on launch, the 959 enjoyed much popularity amongst those who could afford it, with a total of 337 built in its two year production stint, and the German manufacturer bizarrely built a further eight more in 1993, put together with spare parts from the original inventory. The big ticket price will have pleased Porsche executives too, as it was less than half of what the car actually cost to make.

The high-performance sports car achieved infamy in the United States after the country’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not certify the car for road use. Nothing to do with any known safety issues, Porsche had simply refused to provide the four required 959s for crash test purposes. The ban saw Microsoft Billionaire, Bill Gates’ 959 held in customs at the Port of San Francisco for 13 years whilst he helped pass the Show or Display law which finally allowed the 959 on US soil - by which time it had been voted the No.1 Sports Car of the 1980s by Sports Car International magazine.