Lot 36

2014   |   Amelia Island Auction 2014

1988 Porsche 959 Sport

SOLD $1,100,000


$900,000 - $1,200,000



Car Highlights

One of Just 29 959 Sports Produced
Presented in Guards Red with Gray Cloth Upholstery
Upgraded by Canepa Design for Enhanced Usability and Performance
Minimally Used and Well Maintained
Just 5,956 Original Miles
Accompanied by Literature and Numerous Original Parts
A Landmark Supercar and One of Porsche’s Finest

Technical Specs

2,849 CC DOHC Flat 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Electronic Fuel Injection with Twin Turbochargers
575+ BHP at 6,500 RPM
6-Speed Transaxle with Selective All-Wheel Drive
4-Wheel Ventilated Disc Brakes with 4-Channel ABS
4-Wheel Independent Coil-Spring Suspension with Upper and Lower A-Arms, Dual Shock Absorbers, and Anti-Roll Bars
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A World Auction Record for a Porsche 959 Sport

This Car

The 959 Sport offered here is an exceptionally pure and low-mileage example with just 5,956 miles on the odometer at the time of cataloging. Fittingly finished in Guards Red over gray cloth seats, this 959 also includes the Porsche WERKS I steering wheel and a factory roll cage. Originally completed June 11, 1989, and specified for German delivery, the 959 Sport was imported to the US in 2007 for its first American owner, John Brittingham of Mendocino, California. Believed to be a one-owner car prior to this purchase, with 9,608 kilometers on the odometer, the 959 Sport was sent to Canepa Design for service and upgrade upon arrival.

This particular 959 Sport has benefited from a Canepa Design upgrade, making it a “street legal” automobile with significantly increased performance. The upgraded engine system included elimination of the factory sequential turbo system and installation of an all-new twin turbo system including new Garrett ball-bearing turbos, a redesigned waste gate, upgraded fuel nozzles and distribution, and titanium heat shields. This 959 carries an upgraded fuel system, a modern engine management system with ADL, an F1-technology engine wiring harness, a high-output ignition system, and various other components.

Furthermore, a completely new stainless steel exhaust system with Porsche-specification dual stainless catalysts was utilized. The 959 Sport also received a full suspension upgrade, the wheel and tire upgrade, and various minor modifications to US specifications. At this time, a speedometer in miles replaced the metric unit, and it is believed the odometer was accurately set to show the previously accrued mileage. Invoices for nearly $200,000 worth of work are included with the sale of the car. The resulting upgrade is capable of upwards of 600 hp and 570 ft/lbs. of torque, a 0–60 mph time nearing three seconds, and a top speed in excess of 200 mph.

In 2010, the 959 Sport was acquired from Canepa Design by the consignor, an East Coast collector. Having not yet been road registered, the 959 Sport went through the various application processes and soon received its Massachusetts registration. The 959 was then enjoyed sparingly, covering some 300 miles over the following few years. A 2013 invoice from the Porsche specialists at European Performance Engineering of Natick, Massachusetts, affirms the dutiful care taken during this ownership.

Retaining its jack, wheel wrench with center-lock socket, and air compressor, the 959 is further accompanied by a factory driver’s manual, workshop manual, a spare key, records dating to the car’s import, and a rare copy of Porsche 959 Art & Car Edition with Porsche emblem. Also of note is the collection of original parts retained during the car’s upgrade, including the original turbochargers, exhaust components, and fuel system components, among other items.

The Porsche is believed to retain original finishes throughout, with only minor exterior touch-up from use. Thoughtfully upgraded, this 959 Sport offers its next owner blistering performance and enhanced drivability. Today, the 959 remains highly sought-after, and the über-rare Sport, of which just 29 were built, remains a scarcity on the open market. Ideally presented, this 959 warrants serious consideration and inclusion in any Porsche collection or assemblage of modern supercars. The 959

In 1984 Porsche won the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally with the 953, a normally aspirated 911 with four-wheel drive. The success marked a significant achievement for Porsche in the battle of all-wheel-drive sports cars, but it simply affirmed a greater goal. Porsche, with chief engineer Helmuth Bott, was intent on developing a “super Porsche.” The purpose of the project was to produce an all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Porsche with ride height adjustment.

Although Porsche failed to dominate the Paris-Dakar three consecutive years, the 1986 entry of the 959 brought a sensational 1st and 2nd place finish. With the competition-proven drive systems, Porsche sought to further develop the 959 Group B sports car for racing, which included the requirement to produce a minimum of 200 cars.

Per Group B regulation the displacement of the 959 was limited to 2.85 liters as a turbocharged powerplant. The dry sump, air- cooled flat six featured water-cooled cylinder heads and four cams in total operating four valves per cylinder.

The 959 was fitted with two turbochargers of differing sizes, and differing intentions. The smaller turbo was for quick and initial throttle manipulation, while the larger turbo was set to kick in at 4,300 rpm. Porsche and Bosch also developed a fuel injection system unlike any other yet seen on a Porsche. The MP-Jetronic system used pressure measurement between the throttle butterfly and the intake valves to determine the required fuel injection quantity. The same central processing unit also regulated boost.

The 959 produced 450 hp out of just 2.85 liters; the 158 hp per liter capacity marked the highest specific output ever realized in a production car. Putting this power to the ground was an even more developed process. The transmission offered six forward speeds, each of which was intended to break down the 196 mph of speed into manageable proportions. First gear alone could bring the 959 to over 60 mph. The 959’s stopping power was, of course, similarly impressive with larger brakes fitted under 17" wheels.

More important, however, was the 959’s all-wheel-drive arrangement. The “transaxle tube” included Porsche’s PSK variable center differential, which managed the torque divisions between the front and rear axle. A second PSK was fitted in the rear axle to work as a limited slip differential of sorts. The end result was a system that allowed the driver to choose between “traction,” “ice and snow,” “wet,” and “dry” traction settings depending upon conditions.

The technological genius was then clothed in a gorgeous coupe design that marked many firsts – and onlys – for Porsche. The tub was that of a standard galvanized steel 911, but it diverged from this tub in everything but appearance. The rear of the car, roof, rocker panels, and fenders were made of composite materials, while the hood and doors were constructed from aluminum. The front fascia was made of fiberglass. The resulting structure was light and rigid as well as aerodynamic: the 959 boasted a drag coefficient of .31 cd. Even at speeds nearing the car’s top end, the body generated no lift.

In two short years, just 284 customer cars were built and sold. Available in two configurations, Komfort and Sport, the vast majority were sold as Komfort models. With the 959 Sport intended for club racing, the Porsche was stripped of air-conditioning and many other frivolous features included on the Komfort variant. The weight savings amounted to a significant 220 lbs. Most importantly, the S model featured improved suspension without the ride height control and boasted significant increases in horsepower and torque (508 hp at 6,500 rpm, 414 lbs./ft at 6,450 rpm). Of all the 959s built, just 29 Sport models were produced, making it one of the rarest, most significant Porsches of the modern era.