1986 Porsche 959
Pilots: R. Metge, D. Lemoine
Team: Rothmans Porsche Team
Race: 1st place at the Dakar Rally in 1986
Spark - MAP 020 047 18 (resin)
Porsche 959 “Gruppe B” Prototype (06/21/18):
In 1981, Helmuth Bott, Porsche’s chief engineer at the time, had an idea for a new 911. The big deal about this new car was that it would have all-wheel drive. But to facilitate things, he also pitched the new car as a race car for Group B. He got approval, but costs needed to be low. So instead of a new engine, the engineering department used the existing Group C cars’ unit.
The boxer-6 Typ 935/76 engine was expanded to 2849 cm³ but kept the titanium connecting rods and the four gear driven camshafts. The engine block was air-cooled while the four valves cylinder head were water-cooled, like the race engine. It also had two turbos ingeniously set up in a sequential way to reduce lag, producing 450 hp. Though not openly admitted by Porsche, the chassis was basically a regular 911 (930) chassis, but with an aluminum and Kevlar composite body with a Nomex floor.
In 1982 FIA introduced the Group B class. It had few restrictions on technology, design and the minimum number of cars built for homologation. And most important of all, there was no restriction to turbo boost pressure. Slowly though, Group B became focused on rally racing, and Porsche didn’t feel much relevance towards their road cars. With the huge investment needed to develop a true racing program, there wasn’t a strong effort to get the 959 into rallys. So the 959 was all dressed up, but with nowhere to go. However, there was the Dakar Rally, a brutal rally with very few restrictions. In other words, the perfect place for Porsche to prove the 959 without needing to invest too much.
In 1985 the rally version of the 959 was ready, and three cars went to the Dakar Rally. Unfortunately all three DNFed. The next year the 959 was back in Africa, again with three cars in the factory-supported Rothmans team. The 959 #186, piloted by Metge and Lemoine came in first, followed by Ickx and Brasseur in the #185. I don’t collect rally cars, but being the God Car, a rally 959 is allowed by the OLM (Only Le Mans) rule. Until the end of 2018 this model was only available from Minichamps. But Spark released a limited run of 700 models for the Rennsport Reunion around October*. I was fortunate to get one at a regular “Spark price”, but they’re going for silly money now. It’s a dashing model, and I would dare say a mandatory one for rally or Porsche collectors.
* Spark has announced that they will release a regular edition of the 959 #186. So there’s no need to over pay for this edition if you can wait a bit.