In the late 1980s, Porsche, then still a fairly small independent company, created a car for Group B rally racing that was possibly the most technologically advanced and impressive car of the whole era. Today it is still a wonder of automotive engineering and will dominate just about everything on the road. The homologation regulations required by International Automobile Federation (FIA) meant that Porsche had to build at least 200 models for the street. Porsche did and an automotive legend was born.

A Major Technological Step Forward

Porsche 959

The 959 is often pointed to as the first real supercar. It utilizes the Porsche 911’s basic architecture and layout but adds a considerable amount of special and innovative equipment to make the car exceptionally unique. It features a 2.8-liter air-cooled twin-turbo flat six-cylinder engine. Although the 959 was air cooled, it had liquid-cooled cylinder heads. The monster engine produced about 450 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque.

Porsche 959

Power from the engine was routed to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and a special all-wheel-drive system with an adjustable torque split that could push as much as 80 percent of the power to the rear wheels. The 959 featured variable ride height and shock dampening, hallow-spoke magnesium wheels, tire-pressure monitoring, a zero-lift aerodynamic exterior design and a Kevlar and fiberglass-reinforced plastic body.

All this yielded a 0-60 time of around 3.7 seconds and a top speed of about 197 mph. But straight line speed wasn’t what this car was about. It was designed for rough conditions and twisty roads, and Porsche entered the car in the Paris Dakar race in the late 80s to showcase the car’s prowess on the road with wonderful results.

A Legacy That Endures

Porsche 959

The Porsche 959 is still remembered as one of the best and fastest cars ever produced. Much of the technology that was first employed on this car is just now regularly making it into production cars and that’s a sign that it was a truly impressive car for its time. It was also extremely expensive for Porsche to produce, which is why the company ended production after only three years (1986-1988).

The 959s only true competitor is the Ferrari F40, but the F40 wasn’t as luxurious on the inside. In fact, it was quite sparse by comparison. The Porsche 959 came with leather seats, a radio, air conditioning, power windows and more. While this equipment may seem like a no-brainer, for high-performance cars like this in the Group B era, outfitting a pricey speed demon with a posh cabin was far from de riguer.

Porsche 959

Oddly enough, it seems that Porsche secretly resumed production of the 959 in 1992. The company used left over parts to create six 959s for a special collector based in Macau. The company had the left over parts because the cars that were going to be sold in the U.S. never passed regulations. While you can’t get a new 959 today, these cars do occasionally pop up at auction. When they do, they often go for well over $1 million, but for a car that was a dominate force in the time of so many wildly impressive Killer-B cars a million bucks just seems like a fair price for a significant piece of automotive history.