Former F1 star's priceless Porsche 959 S returns to factory for overhaul
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
In the automotive world, there are a handful of road cars that are regarded as living legends. These are cars like the McLaren F1, the Ferrari F40, and Porsche's iconic 959.
The 959 was a tech marvel of its time, and this combined with limited production numbers, means that an example in any condition is worth well over a million dollars today.
Just 292 959s were built by Porsche, and just 29 'Sport' models were built, one of which is now owned by former F1 star Nick Heidfeld.
Just recently, Heidfeld's 959 S made headlines as it was returned to the Porsche factory back in 2017 to undergo an extensive technical overhaul, despite the fact it only has 4,183km on the clock.
“If such a technologically innovative car is not driven regularly, storage damage is, unfortunately, unavoidable," says Uwe Makrutzki, Head of Factory Restoration at Porsche Classic. “The powertrain and chassis have to be overhauled in their entirety; experience has shown that any reduction to the scope of work leads to problems down the road.”
As you'd expect, being such a technologically advanced car for its time means that restoring a 959 from the ground up is no easy feat.
“Almost all 959s have been with us at least once in their life,” says Makrutzki. “So we have had a lot of practice. Thanks to the highly complex technology, however, a 959 overhaul is always a very special and wonderful mission.”
Nearly five years later in December of 2021, Heidfeld's 959 S was ready to return to the road with a new lease on life, and as you'd imagine, the racing driver was over the moon to drive it again.
“I’ve had the privilege of driving many high-performance cars, but driving this high-tech legend is something special for me. I was a teenage car fan in the late 1980s, and to me this Porsche was always extraordinary. At the time, the 959 was the fastest production car in the world and by far the most advanced. So even today, it doesn’t drive like a 30-year-old car, but like a much more modern vehicle.”
According to Makrutzki, the 959 needs regular outings to keep everything in working order: “Covering around 100 kilometres in mixed operation at least once a month provides protection from damage due to standing still. That’s also what the feedback from our customers has shown.”
As the name suggests, the 959 Sport was an even more extreme version of the 959, and was more hardcore in almost every way.
The twin-turbo 2.8-litre boxer engine's power output was lifted to 378kW over 330kW, meaning that the 0-100km/h sprint was cut down to just 3.7 seconds. Its top speed was also lifted to 339km/h over the standard 959's top speed of 315km/h.
Automatic air conditioning, central locking system, electric windows, right-hand side mirror and rear seats were also omitted to help save weight.
Back in 1987, one of these 959 Sport models would've set a buyer back $360,000, and when adjusted for inflation, this would be the equivalent of over $868,000.
Though we aren't aware of any 959s living in New Zealand, just recently, DRIVEN joined Porsche on a trip to Europe where we saw a few in their natural habitat. Head over to our Instagram to check out that coverage.