16-17 August 2013

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Lot 126

1985 Porsche 959 'Vorserie'

  • Chassis no. WPOZZZ93ZFS010072

Sold for $737,000

450 bhp, 2,849 cc rear-mounted, air- and liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine with twin two-stage turbochargers and intercooling, six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drive, independent double-wishbone front and rear suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 89.4 in.

  • Pre-production 959 ‘Vorserie,’ used by Porsche executives
  • Two owners and 5,000 kilometers from new
  • Authenticated by the factory
  • Documented service history, books, and tools
  • One of the most important 959s available for sale

If a company today built a car that could achieve 198 mph and accelerate from 0–60 mph in only 3.6 seconds, it would be something incredible and carry tremendous bragging rights. One imagines that the engineers at Porsche would simply take one look at it, yawn, and go back to work. After all, they turned out a car that could do all that over a quarter century ago. It was called the 959, and it turned the sports car world on its head.

Originally developed for the short-lived Group B rally program, the 959 boasted space shuttle levels of technological sophistication never before seen on a racing car. The body construction incorporated DuPont Kevlar aramid fibers, a polyurethane nose cap, and aluminum doors and front lid, for Formula One-like toughness and lightness. The suspension boasted three adjustable ride-height settings, as well as three dampening settings for the shock absorbers. The sophisticated antilock braking system was controlled by high-speed microprocessors, augmented by run-flat Bridgestone tires. The engine featured six individually water-cooled cylinder heads, twin sequential turbochargers, and intercooling, sending 450 horsepower at 6,500 rpm to all four wheels through an electronically controlled all-wheel drive system.

All of this resulted in performance that, as the old saying goes, shocked friends and terrified enemies.

First, though, one had to acquire a 959, which was not easy. Even at $300,000 each, the factory had a waiting list and lost money on every one of the 283 built, earning the model its nickname of “Porsche’s Gift to Its Favorite Customers.” It was such a desirable acquisition that even United States collectors, who could not legally import the cars, sought to do so anyway, leading to a “grey market” for 959s in the United States. The “Show and Display” law of 1999, championed by 959 owners Bill Gates and Paul Allen, finally allowed the cars to be legally imported.

Naturally, the executives at the Porsche factory had no such difficulties. In fact, they were able to access the pleasure of 959 ownership before the general public, with cars like this ‘Vorserie,’ or pre-series-production, model built after the original prototypes. They utilized the finalized 959 specification to varying degrees, but they preceded the start of official public production. While the car was finished in road going “Komfort” trim, as one would expect of something used to whisk a suited gentleman down the autobahn to Weissach, this car is not fitted with the hydraulic self-leveling rear suspension, which was a later innovation, and not one that is universally admired. According to the 959 Registry, only 21 ‘Vorseries’ were made, all produced in 1985. It would be two years before the production cars would follow.

Following its time spent in the Porsche executive fleet, this 959 was titled and road-registered prior to being sold privately by the factory. This 959 has had only two registered owners since, most recently spending time in the esteemed collection of the president of the Porsche Club of Spain. It has been driven only 5,000 kilometers from new, with many of those miles likely covered in its original use, and it has the “factory fresh” appearance to match, including outstanding original Zermatt Silver paint and a grey-piped black leather interior. Few 959s remain in such well-preserved, impressively original condition.

Even more crucially, the car boasts an exclusive and comprehensive service history from Porsche Weissach and other official facilities, with the most recent major service completed in June 2013, at Porsche of Dusseldorf, Germany (an authorized 959 service facility), and it has only accrued road testing miles since. Receipts for this work are available for inspection. Featured in Porsche 959 by Jurgen Lewandowski, the car is authenticated by a letter from the Porsche factory, which accompanies it, along with all the extras that a 959 buyer should expect, including its tool roll, jack, and fitted car cover. Importantly, after being recently imported from Germany, the car will be offered with a valid U.S. title. Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen never had it so easy.

Supercars tend to come and go, and there are remarkably few that remain as astonishingly cutting-edge and desirable years after their introduction. The Porsche 959, loaded with technological advances worthy of NASA, is one that has achieved such honors. It remains as desirable today as it was when new, and the car shown here stands among the cream of the crop, with virtually unbeatable provenance as one of the earliest 959s surviving; it is a pre-production car that was formerly in the service of the men who saw it built. We can only assume that, a quarter century after they drove it to work, they are still smiling.


Please note that due to California emissions, this car should be offered to a dealer or out-of-state resident.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more