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april 22, 2016 - Bilstein

Mythic Porsche 959 – rally star and legend - High-tech icon with BILSTEIN shock absorbers

The first street version #porsche #959 was delivered in 1986, setting a benchmark as the fastest production vehicle with road approval at the time. Technology pioneers such as Bill Gates fell in love with the high-tech car, as did many notaries of high culture and sports stars. Among others, star conductor Herbert von Karajan and Boris Becker fell for the sports car, possibly due to its official top speed of 317 km/h (197 mph). The group of buyers was just as illustrious as the special technical features of the #959: a bi-turbo engine with sequential turbocharging and electronically controlled all-wheel drive – the car offered many features which the man on the street would have perhaps expected to see in a James Bond film. The suspension was particularly ingenious: electronically adjustable height and firmness, with independent suspension on double wishbones and two #bilstein gas pressure shock absorbers on each wheel. This setup was well thought out: One damper in each pair had a small electric motor on board for valve control to vary the damping factor. The other damper was supplied with oil by a hydraulic pump actuated by the motor and it adjusted the amount of ground clearance in three settings – this could be adapted fully automatically or manually at low speed. Overall this system, which worked with relatively little sensor involvement, was quite comfortable in modern terms – at least for a supercar.


The #959, which embodied a kind of über-911, was originally planned as a basis for motor sports. The reason for this was that a number of road homologation vehicles were required to enable use in the legendary Group B, which was regarded as the playground of the most fascinating rally cars of all times. And so it came about that the supercar had its première there in 1985 while still struggling with some teething problems. In 1986 things already looked quite different when the #959 won the Paris-Dakar Rally with René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne. As on the other hand Group B was being discontinued for safety reasons, #porsche used the #959 as a basis for developing the circuit #racing car 961. The #porsche 961 was successful in different series, for example finishing first in class and seventh overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And yet it was primarily the rally outings which influenced the image of the #959: "We drove through the Ténéré desert at over 200 km/h (124 mph). That was scary, much worse than the Hunaudières straight at Le Mans," remembers Jackie Ickx, who also drove a #959 at the Dakar in 1986, albeit not the winning car. The range of uses of the 961, however, was quite a lot closer to the production vehicle which was probably never used off-road. Especially not the extremely rare and puristic special version #959 S which used its 515 PS (508 HP) to reach an impressive 339 km/h (211 mph) in Nardo. And that is still pretty damn quick even in modern terms.

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