It was May 2009. The Gumball 3000–an annual 3,000-mile international road rally—was passing through Dallas on a route coursing from Santa Monica to Miami. A Gumball rally participant pulled into Boardwalk Porsche to see if he could get a fresh set of tires installed on his Lamborghini Gallardo. The rigors of the rally had worn out the rubber on his prized exotic.
He struck up a conversation with Boardwalk’s technicians while they installed the tires on his Gallardo. He was impressed with their teamwork and technical precision and expertise. He owned a Porsche 959, he said. It was in need of some restoration work. Could they do it?
Some 9 months later his Porsche 959 arrived at Boardwalk Porsche from Saudi Arabia via the Port of Houston. It had a thick layer of dust, a glut of fluid leaks, and less than 500 miles on the odometer. From there Boardwalk’s technicians embarked on a yearlong global research process sourcing components and tackling technical challenges. It was an undertaking few North American automobile technicians would ever experience.
When introduced in 1986, the Porsche 959 was heralded as the most technologically advanced road-going sports car ever built. It’s certainly among the most rare. Just 337 were built during its production run between 1986 and 1989.
The 959 was designed to satisfy new “Gruppe B” regulations introduced for sports cars and rallying cars in 1982 by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The FIA stipulated that a minimum of 200 street-legal units be built to satisfy Group B criteria. These guidelines (the class was discontinued in 1986) spurred development of some of the most powerful, technologically sophisticated rallying cars ever built. The 959 was the cream of this fast crop.
It was among the first high performance cars to utilize an advanced all-wheel drive system. The 959 featured titanium connecting rods in the engine, “zero lift aerodynamics, automatic ride height adjustment, and Kevlar composite body panels.
Propelled by a 444 horsepower 2.85-liter twin turbo six-cylinder boxer engine, the 959 was the fastest production car in the world when introduced. Road & Track logged a top speed of 198 miles per hour at VW’s Ehra-Lessien test track. It debuted at a price of $225,000 ($431,889 in 2010 dollars), less than half of what it cost Porsche to build each car. Though demand was high, Porsche never certified it for sale in America. Importation into the U.S. was prohibited until 1999 when a “Show and Display” law was passed allowing the 959 into the U.S. if each car met 1987 emissions standards.
Boardwalk’s technicians fitted this 959 with a new ABS pump, suspension system sensor controls, and fresh seals and gaskets in the hydraulic, lubrication, and coolant systems. Boardwalk recently completed the work, further broadening and elevating the technical expertise of the Boardwalk Porsche service team.