Originally Posted by dark knight
The shiftknob of the Porsche 959 which I always knew used a 6 speed transmission but never knew about the G,1-5 shift pattern. This excerpt from a Road & Track article explains it. "The 959 used a six-speed transaxle, but first gear was a creeper and not intended for pavement. Thus the shiftknob pattern: "G-1-2-3-4-5," with "G" standing for Gelńnde, or off-road."
Did you know what was the reason behind the G gearing in Porsche 959? When the 200 lucky first owners collected their 959s from the Porsche factory at Zuffenhausen they were among the first road-car drivers in history to have to adopt to a 6speed gearbox. Looking at the 'map' atop the shift lever, though, you could be forgiven for thinking there are only five forward gears. And top gear is indeed marked as fifth, but there's an extra slot marked 'G' (for Gelńnde; literally country) next to reverse, where you might normally expect first gear to reside.
Amazingly, considering how civilized the 959 sounds today, it wouldn't have passed the noise tests of the late 1980s unless Porsche had used this clever tweak. The test involved driving away from a microphone in first gear at full throttle, so arbitrarily labeling first as an 'off-road' ratio and renumbering the other five accordingly enabled the company to have the test carried out in what amounted to second gear. Clearly all those years of studying racing regulations with a microscopic attention to detail hadn't been entirely wasted...