A supercar way ahead of its time.

If you have to name just a single vehicle to be crowned the grandfather of all modern supercars, which one would it be? Sure, the Ferrari F40, the Jaguar XJ200, and the Lamborghini Miura all have very important roles for the development of this segment, but the name that always comes first to our minds is the Porsche 959.

Largely based on the 911 of that era, the 959 debuted in 1985 and was basically a homologation car with tons of advanced technologies under the skin. It had a sophisticated powertrain, consisting of a 2.85-liter de-stroked flat-six boxer motor with an air-cooled block mated to liquid-cooled heads, and sequential turbochargers hanging off each bank of cylinders.

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To effectively transfer the power from the engine to the wheels, Porsche used the groundbreaking Porsche-Steuer Kupplung (PSK) system, which used wet multi-plate clutch located up by the front differential to distribute torque to the front and rear of the car depending on the conditions. Not only that, but the 959 also had four different driving modes, controlled by the driver through a simple onboard dial. It was basically the father of all modern dynamic AWD systems.

Porsche 959 Cutaway

Many people say the 959 was at least 10 years ahead of its time. Former American race driver Bruce Canepa even says it was “literally 20 years” ahead of its time the first time he drove one. In the video above, courtesy of Petrolicious, Canepa tells the intriguing story of one of the first 959s legally imported to the United States after nearly a decade of failed attempts.

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Currently operating a sports and race car restoration facility in Scotts Valley, California, Canepa says the 959 may have saved the future of the 911 and Porsche as a whole, as it showed the world what could be achieved with a rear-engine design. We can’t agree more.

Source: Petrolicious on YouTube

Gallery: 1988 Porsche 959 Sport