RM Sotheby’s has announced that the only works Paris-Dakar Porsche 959 rally car in private hands will be offered for sale in its Porsche 70th Anniversary Sale at the Porsche Experience Centre Atlanta on October 27th. Driven by René Metge in the 1985 Paris-Dakar Rally, the car failed to finish, but that’s another story.
I have spent a little bit of time with this car over the years, as it was previously maintained by Tuthill Porsche and supported by the team on appearances including the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
I first met the 959 on an early visit to the Wardington workshops in 2004. My 911 SC Cabriolet had been in with Francis for a service and I had a nose around the barns when I came back to collect it that evening with two year-old (now 16 year-old) Ciara in tow. As a Porsche rally freak, it blew my mind to see the Dakar 959 sitting in a corner under the cover. How crazy to think my humble SC was being worked on under the same roof: that was a pretty cool thing.
Paris-Dakar Porsche 959 up close
The Paris-Dakar Porsche 959 was a constant presence through my early years of working with Tuthills. I never used it in a magazine feature, but Chris Harris drove this car back-to-back with a roadgoing 959 for GT Porsche magazine in September 2006. The original Paris-Dakar car featured a lightweight 3.2-litre engine with a close ratio gearbox versus the road car’s 2.85-litre twin-turbo flat six, but the 959 as tested by Harris was running a magnesium-cased 3.5-litre engine producing 350bhp, to safeguard the 959’s original engine. Despite this, Chris was effusive in his praise for the 959 Dakar’s high drama.
“The car is brutally noisy. In fact, it sounds so intense that the sensation of speed is heightened because you can’t believe that such a racket could ever be produced unless the sound barrier was imminent. It chomps through the close ratios faster than I dare use the uprated 915 gearbox and like any rally car on the road, it feels completely detached because so much of its suspension performance isn’t being used.
“It rides quite beautifully – better than the road car – steers like you’d expect given that it isn’t hampered by hydraulic assistance and the brake pedal takes a decent prod to have any effect. Driving through rural Oxfordshire, its remarkable to think that this car was capable of 140mph over boulder-strewn African tracks.”
No doubt this is a wonderful 911: a real piece of history that would certainly spice up any serious air-cooled Porsche collection. I’m intrigued to see where the bidding ends up and who it passes to.
Main pic © Robin Adams courtesy of RM Sotheby’s