The Drivers Seat is presented by Mobil 1.
Maybe we had your attention at ‘Henry Catchpole drives the Porsche 959’. But it gets better because this is the rare Sport version as opposed to the more common Comfort variant. And then it gets even wilder because this is F9, one of the very first prototypes of the 959. Currently for sale with Girardo & Co, after being put on the market last August, it is a very special car indeed.
Known as the F-series, just 12 prototypes were built as the 959 got closer and closer to production. This example is F9 – one of only three built as prototypes for the lighter 959 Sport. Doing without rear seats, central locking, air conditioning and adjustable suspension the Sport would become the most prized Porsche 959 of the 292 cars made, with just 29 Sports assembled
There is an argument that this could actually be the fastest 959 ever to leave the factory (as opposed to others, such as those from Canepa, that have subsequently been tuned from standard). The Sport variants of the 959 were already said to be some 100kg lighter than the standard, Comfort variant of the 959 and in addition, or rather subtraction, this lacks the Sport’s roll cage and various pieces of trim. Some have estimated that this might be as much as 200kg lighter than standard.
It certainly feels mighty quick when the second of the sequentially boosting turbos kicks in above 4000rpm. The Sport variants had an uprated engine, taking power from 450bhp up to 508bhp, so the official 0-60mph time dropped to just 3.6 sec, with 0-100mph taking an even more impressive 8.2 seconds. Despite being almost 40 years old, this car certainly felt good for that.
There is also something wonderful about the fact that the 959 was designed to compete in such diverse events as the Paris Dakar Rally and the 24h hours of Le Mans. That it was successful too is just incredible. Some of that breadth of ability is baked into the road car, with things like the gearbox, which only says it goes up to five but is really a six-speed, thanks to an ultra-low crawler gear, called the ‘G’ gear, for Gelande which is the German word for terrain.
Of course, the fiercest competition took place in the pages of magazines. The Porsche 959 and the Ferrari F40 were iconic (justified use of the word) sparring partners in the late 1980s. In Porsche’s corner was a huge amount of new technology and processing power. In Ferrari’s corner was light weight and a bonkers power delivery. It felt like something of a digital versus analogue battle. Given that this prototype Sport version of the 959 has unassisted steering and passive suspension, it was interesting to see whether it would feel closer to the analogue spirit of the F40.
Which would you rather have? F40 or this 959? Or would you rather have the equivalent Porsche 911 Turbo of the time? Let us know in the comments down below. And if you spot any other cars in the background at Girardo & Co that you would like to see more of, then put in a request and we’ll see what we can do!