This year’s Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este had many different exotic vehicles on display (see the related links block below). Among them was an example of the Porsche 959, a model which is quite rare on its own. This particular car, however, is even rarer as it was produced in a run of just 29 examples.
Automotive Mike was on location to film one of those 29 cars and this red Porsche 959 has just 542 original miles on the odometer. This 959 is from the Sport specification, which was built as a failed attempt to get the supercar to the US market in the second half of the 1980s. Needless to say, the vehicle is in immaculate condition and looks like it has just left the factory.
The 959 is probably best known for being the fastest production car in the world when it debuted. It achieved a top speed of 197 miles per hour (317 kilometers per hour) and some modified examples even did 211 mph (339 kph) – very respectable numbers even by today’s standards. At the time, it was considered the most technologically advanced vehicle in the world thanks to its twin-turbocharged engine and other advanced solutions.
A predecessor to all future Porsche flagship models, the 959 was one of the few performance cars in the 1980s to feature an all-wheel drive. It had a pioneering role for the Stuttgart-based automaker as it paved the way for the all-wheel-drive system as a factory feature on the more powerful 911 Turbo models, and also introduced twin-turbo technology to future Porsche production cars.
In the 1980s, Porsche wanted to bring the 959 to the United States but eventually decided against designing safety features that meet the country's safety standards by the NHTSA. Just a few examples were exported to America and their owners had to pay storage fees to keep them in the so-called Foreign Trade Zones.
The Show and Display law from 1999 allowed legal registration of the 959 as it was considered significantly important to car culture. All produced 959 examples are now over 25 years old and can be registered in the United States.