The Porsche 959
All-wheel drive and fastest production car were two terms that had never been associated with each other in the 80s. However, if you are looking to build the ultimate Group B rally car then naturally the two terms should be your top priority. This is exactly what Porsche sought out to do in 1981 when they started development of what they called their “Gruppe B”. This project developed into one of the most iconic Porsche models ever created; The Porsche 959.
The design of the 959 resembles a 911 with a distinctive long stretch profile. It should be noted that to meet the FIA standards for Group B rally at the time, the vehicle had to have 200 production street legal units and not just be a one-off race car. When released to the public, the twin-turbo 959 was the fastest street legal production car at the time. The 959 had recognition as not only the fastest, but also the most technologically advanced vehicle during this era. The demands to compete in a Group B rally race are enormous. Porsche engineers created one of the most advanced AWD systems of the time. If you remember from our last article on the Porsche Indy car adventure, the engine which was deemed too powerful for Indy car racing was modified to fit and was strapped into the 959. The chassis of the 959 was completely made of aluminum and Kevlar with Nomex flooring. At the time, steel was the material of choice, but Porsche’s lightweight design created a significant advantage. Released to the Public in 1986 the 959 came with a price, specifically $225,000 USD. Even by today’s standards this car was not a cheap venture. It is estimated that it cost Porsche almost double of this to produce the vehicle in the first place.
Despite being one of the most incredible vehicles ever designed by Porsche, there was one slight problem: The car was not street legal in North America until 1999. With only 337 models produced, the cars are extremely rare and did not stretch their boundaries much beyond Europe. One man who was fortunate/unfortunate enough to get his hands on one was Bill Gates. Gates bought the car before it received approval for usage in North America, meaning the car was stored for 13 years by customs service in the Port of San Francisco. This could be seen as a blessing in disguise as the vehicles are now extremely collectible, especially with low kilometers.