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Porsche 959: Another reason why the 80s were awesomeWith its roots planted in the now defunct Group B Rally series the 959 brought together the best the German manufacturer had to offer. XCAR took this beast out for a spin to relive the magic.
[MUSIC] Today is one of those days. One of those days you're not quite sure is real or actually happening because that is a Porsche 959. One of, in the grand scheme of things, not that many made and I've got the key. The 959 story begins all the way back in 1982, when Helmer Sports approached Porsche's MD about the 911. He had some ideas and thought they needed to go on it. Well, on a new one at least. Burt wanted to build a sports car Porsche could rely on in the future, so thought all wheel drive would be the way to go. Know that Motorsports helped development along somewhat he approached top brass and suggested they entered the then very popular Group B. The right people said yes and he got to work making his four wheel drive mule into a racing car. [MUSIC] The car's engine wasn't to be all new but one lifted from the 935 racer. It was a 2.85 liter twin turbo flat six with 444 brake horsepower. The turbos were in sequence rather than [UNKNOWN] making turbo like force in theory a thing of the past. It's body was a mix of aluminum and Kevlar so the weight stayed as low as possible. But it still tips the scales at nearly one and a half tons. It's error to ensure there was no left and the street car could have variable ride height to help keep the car as stable as possible. Race car engine aside, the 959 prototype had something pretty special. Four wheel drive. TSK or Porsche's storer coupling, shuffles the power around the car's wheels as and when it was needed. It could have up to 80% pushed to the rear. Now I know that may sound a bit old hat now. You can get it on a small salary car, but. Back in its day it was quite something. The Group B concept appeared in 1983, wowing the crowds at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In 1985, the full production car was unveiled. With a release promised for 1986. At the time, it was the fastest production car on the planet. Putting in a top speed of 195 miles an hour, the. Sport miles could hack 197, north of 62 is apparently dispatched in 3.7 seconds. [NOISE] [MUSIC] [NOISE] In all there were two versions on offer the comfort and the sport. The comfort had. Things in it, things like air con and anything electrical. Well the sport lost pretty much all of that, and 100 kilos. It was supposed to be a featherweight killer, just as Porshe's early Le Mans cars had been. The performance is simply staggering still. Hook it up from second to third and it just goes. It kicks you down the road. Angrily shouting, making an incredible noise. Of course, it's got that engine, and oh my what an engine it is. Now, I wanna talk about the two spaced turbos. Cause the idea behind it was, the little turbo would get it all going, nice, and quickly. Then the big turbo would carry on. So you get this one big wave of torque. Now what actually happens is, you start off going very quick. Then the big turbo happened, and ooh, ooh it's fast. It just picks up speed instantly, you're gone, bang. That's something I'm not really used to, I don't think anyone's used to anymore, because now turbo technology has moved on, but this is one of the blueprints of how to get cars shifting. Mentally fast. The clutch is incredibly heavy and the gear box is very, very mechanical you do have to force it into each ratio you have to work for you supper and while some may view that as quiet bad it's of it's age and frankly it works staggeringly well. It feels really good you feel incredibly involved and engaged with the car. The brakes again. Very, very heavy, very little assistance. As you'd expect from a car of this particular era. But, in the same breath, you do get lots of lovely, lovely feedback. You know exactly what's going on. A lot of feel through the pedal. The steering is delightfully weighty, something you don't get much anymore. And the feedback you get through it is. Well it's awesome. It really, really is good you can feel everything here at your finger tips properly and this car is pretty much mint. Everything on it has been lovingly restored and looked after by the guys at the Porsche Museum. This car is a museum piece and looking down at the odometer, well. It's done a little over four thousand six hundred kilometers. That's not much and I've put about a hundred of those on. So I've left my mark on the car. That's good. While Group B was ideal to start with, it shift towards rallying put forth [INAUDIBLE] somewhat. Rather than compete, Porsche got on with making the best road car it could. Until 1984, that is, when Jackie Is brought a Porsche hard enough to enter three nine eleventh's modified. The 959 spec in the Perry Deck car. Which it won. Full running spec 959s entered in 85 and 86. 959s finished first and second. Not bad. A road racer variant the 961 appeared as well. It even entered LeMan in 1986 scoring a class victory and seventh place overall. This car's legacy, as well as being a poster car for people all over the world and still is today as well as its incredible performance and as well as its victories and stunning efforts on the world's race stages, rally stages. And the fact that it proved that you could have a 9 11. With four wheel drive in it. Admittedly the PSK system was simplified for the first Carrera 4, and then configure switched out for the one after that, because while it was brilliant, it was very expensive and very, very complicated. It showed that you could still have fun, even 9-11, with all four wheels driven. It's a beautiful piece of engineering and a stunning piece of design. An attestment to that is the fact that several times today, people stopped just to have a chat, to have a look at it. It just got people and they love it for it. And I don't blame them. On our travels, Chapper calls for this and wanted to have a look because he knew exactly what he was looking at. And he told us that his dad used to work at the factory, round the time 959 was being developed. And apparently his father, on the day he went to buy his wedding rings, took a 959. And he doesn't remember that day, because he went to buy the ring, he was going to slip onto his everlasting love's finger, no. He remembers that day because he was driving a 959. Press play but don't tell your wife. The power this car has over people. It is the highlight of people's days, the highlight of their years. Hell, for some people it'd be the highlight of their lives. I'm never gonna forget the time I spent. Beautiful car. I'm so incredibly lucky to have done it. For me the 955 was always a special car I loved it to bits when I was a kid. I remember seeing it just as countless other people did and falling in love with it. At the time I wasn't really a fan of the 911, but hell the 955 just did it for me. It just did it for me it got me in a way that very few other cars did. [MUSIC] This car is parked with a set that sums up 80's excess. It was the fastest, the greatest, the ultimate Porsche. It used to go toe to toe with Ferrari F40's, Jaguar X8 20's and the like. It set the paradigm for the super car renaissance. It's one of the world's true great and innovative. At that. The 959 versus Ferrari F 40 schoolyard battles were a precursor to those that happened once again in the Maltese, and they're happening right now with the 918 Spyder, and the Carent T1, and Ferrari LaFerrari. Each time there is a big super car renaissance, Porsche's always there throwing its high powered hat in the ring. The 959 was it's first big go, and what a way to do it. [MUSIC] It's been a genuine pleasure to drive the 959, even for the briefest of moments. Because it's very much of its era. It's very fast and consequences, well, who gives a damn about them. Nowadays yeah, manufacturers are making very fast cars but, they also have something else in mind. Efficiency. While that's all well and good, I'm not knocking that, every now and then, don't you wish manufacturers would throw out the whole eco bit to make something. As big, as fast, and as sceeny as possible. I know I do. [MUSIC]