The Porsche 959 was the towering supercar of the 1980s, an all-wheel-drive performance machine of mythic proportions. Derived from the 911, and powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.2-liter flat-6 engine, the 959 set standards as Porsche vied to create the world’s fastest, most-technologically advanced sports car.
In 1985, three rally-spec 959 prototypes were entered by Porsche in the Paris-Dakar Rally, the world’s most-grueling cross-country race, which went through Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahara Desert, ending in Dakar, Senegal, on the west coast of Africa. Total distance for the ultimate endurance event, around 8,700 miles.
A year earlier, racer Jackie Ickx had finished sixth in a Porsche 911, encouraging the German automaker to prepare the nascent 959s to compete in the prestigious event. While they did not finish the race because of crashes and mechanical trouble, they served as test beds for the fully developed 959 racers that competed in the following year Paris-Dakar – the Porsches dominated the 1986 rally, finishing first, second and sixth overall.
One of the three original Porsche 959 racers from the 1985 Paris-Dakar, chassis 010015, will be offered at RM Sotheby’s auction October 27 at the Porsche Experience Center Atlanta. Of the few 959 Paris-Dakar specials in private hands, this will be the first one offered at private auction, RM Sotheby’s said in a news release.
“It is fantastic to be able to offer one of the very few 959 Paris-Dakar rally cars at auction, especially at our Porsche 70th Anniversary sale,” Alexander Weaver, car specialist for RM Sotheby’s said in a news release. “Just six of these impressive machines were ever built, with five examples surviving and perhaps a mere two or three, including this car, in private hands.
Raced as No. 186, the 959 was driven in the Paris-Dakar by Dominique Lemoyne and René Metge, who had won the rally in 1981 and 1984, both times in a Porsche Type 953 911, and went on to win again in 1986 in a Porsche 959. The team dropped out of the rally in 1985 due to an oil-line failure. Testifying to the harshness of the Paris-Dakar run, just 146 entries completed the race out of 552 that started.
The 959 rally car at auction has been in long-term ownership, preserved, shown and used in vintage events, according to the auction company, which places its estimated value at $3 million to $3.4 million.
“The Paris-Dakar presents in as-raced, highly original condition, and is being commissioned to complete running order prior to the sale in October,” Weaver added. “There has been a considerable surge in the popularity of safari-style, rally-spec 911 builds, and the 959 Paris-Dakar is essentially what sparked all of these on/off-road Porsche models. For any die-hard Porsche collector and off-roader, this is an unheard-of opportunity.”
RM Sotheby’s has another quite-special 959 that it will auction at the all-Porsche sale – an original 959 prototype, the seventh of 12 built, and one of just three or four prototypes known to survive and possibly the only one in running order, according to the news release. The Ruby Red car with Silver interior was used for electrical and hot-weather testing as Porsche sorted out its upcoming 959 production models.
“Additional features and marked differences unique to the prototypes include the earliest rear wing type, very rare prototype wheels in hollow magnesium and finished in pearlescent white, and LHD prototype headlights, which are entirely different to the production versions,” RM Sotheby’s says in the release.
The estimated value for the rare prototype is $1.3 million to $1.6 million.
The exclusively Porsche auction in Atlanta will feature about 70 significant examples from marque history, according to the news release. For more information, visit the auction website.