‘Porsche 959’ is a History Lesson You’ll Love Learning (Review)

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German publisher celebrates world’s greatest car in glorious photos and a few stories that will push your enthusiasm for the 959 into overdrive.

You could say I’ve been an automotive enthusiast almost since the day I was born. I spoke my first words repeating the ones I saw on the family TV during a commercial for an auto repair shop. However, when it comes to growing up with and knowing every little thing about the Porsche 959, the day I was born was years too late.

I consider myself part of the Porsche 996 generation. It was during that car’s lifecycle that I gained more than just a passing awareness of Porsche. When the Porsche 959 came out in the mid-1980s, I was too young to know what it was. Luckily, I just got my hands on an advance copy of German publisher Delius Klasing’s new book Porsche 959 so I that could learn more about it.

 

One of the coolest shots in the book is of a high-riding 959 during one of the car’s many runs through the Paris-Dakar Rally. (I’ll try to forget about the gold interior that the Emir of Qatar ordered.)

 

I opened the book and was surprised to discover how picture-heavy Porsche 959 is. Then again, why wouldn’t it be? The 959’s an attractive car that went through multiple stages of development — from the 911-based “C29” aerodynamic study model to the sleek, pearl-white metallic Group B concept car that Porsche displayed at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show to the all-wheel-drive, twin-turbo production model.

Comprehensive and compelling, Porsche 959 even shows early development mules being tested in the wintry wild of Norway and the attention-getting cutaway model that Porsche exhibited at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show. One of the coolest shots in the book is of a high-riding 959 tearing through the African sand during one of the car’s many runs through the Paris-Dakar Rally. (I’ll try to forget about the gold interior that the Emir of Qatar ordered.)

In addition to its abundance of excellent photographs, the text of Porsche 959 managed to teach me some things that I never knew about the pumped-up Porsche.

For instance, I learned that, after taking per-car development costs into account, Porsche lost more than 500,000 Deutsche Marks on every 959 it sold, leading an R&D board member to call the 959 “the most expensive promotional giveaway in Porsche history.” By 1987, the value of the U.S. dollar tanked. That, along with the cash-hemorrhaging 959, caused a lot of financial difficulties for Porsche and motivated CEO Peter W. Schutz to resign.

Also, it was exciting to learn about the 959’s futuristic features, such as its tire-pressure monitoring system and ride-height control system.

Ultimately, I found Delius Klasing’s Porsche 959 to be more of an eyeful of great photos than a headful of facts, however interesting those may be. Currently available at most U.S. book stores, it is a great coffee table book with a lot of eagerly dog-eared pages.

 

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