Arizona

28-29 January 2016

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Lot 213

1988 Porsche 959 'Komfort'

  • Chassis no. WP0ZZZ95ZJS900191
  • Engine no. 65H00262
  • Gearbox no. 75H00270

$1,100,000 - $1,400,000


450 bhp, 2,849 cc rear-mounted, air- and liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine with twin two-stage turbochargers and Bosch electronic fuel injection, six-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive, independent front and rear double-wishbone suspension with electronically adjustable ride height and shock-absorber control, and four-wheel hydraulic ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 89.4 in.

  • Porsche’s first supercar; one of only 329 produced
  • Sold new to a German Porsche dealer; just 25,500 km from new
  • Numbers-matching example; includes Porsche Certificate of Authenticity


The Type 959 was Porsche’s first true “supercar,” a design to which every imaginable accolade has been applied. Based on the company’s evergreen 911 sports coupe, it was built to win the FIA’s Group B World Rally Championship and, not incidentally, serve as an all-wheel-drive development platform for Porsche’s future 964 production series. The “Gruppe B” prototype was introduced at the 1983 Frankfurt auto show, where it stunned onlookers with advanced technology that included a chassis built of advanced lightweight materials, a rear-mounted, 2.8-liter turbocharged engine, and a mind-boggling array of electronic engine and suspension management systems.

To homologate the new Type 961 rally car, Porsche had to build a series of roadworthy cars to prove the 961’s legitimacy as a production model. When the FIA suddenly cancelled Group B, Porsche was faced with a dilemma; production of the road cars had already begun, but there was no longer a rally program to justify them. Porsche pressed ahead in hopes it could convince a fairly limited number of wealthy customers that a 200-mph road car was a practical investment and thus defray Porsche’s huge development costs. It need not have worried. Whenever Porsche builds the exciting and unexpected, customers will line up, and so it was with the very expensive 959, even though it is said that Porsche lost money on every one it built.

The 959’s chassis, on the same 89.4-inch wheelbase as the 911 Carrera, was made of carbon fiber, aluminum, and Kevlar. The roofline, doors, and interior resembled the 911, down to the ignition placed to the driver’s left. Porsche’s goal was to achieve zero body lift at speed, and it succeeded admirably. The nose was extended and flattened and featured near-flush headlamps with extensive ducting for cooling the front brakes and oil radiator. The rear of the car was also stretched rearward and liberally ventilated, and it was topped with a full-width rear wing. Beneath the body shell, though, was a double-wishbone, racing-derived suspension with coil springs and double shocks, adjustable shock damping and ride height, and an electronically managed all-wheel-drive system (Porsche’s PSK [Porsche-Steur-Kupplung]) that allowed the driver to vary the torque (370 foot-pounds at 5,500 rpm) between the rear and front axles, up to 80 percent, under hard acceleration. A full array of instruments kept the driver well informed of all the suspension and traction settings.

The flat-six engine, with air-cooled cylinders and four-valve water-cooled heads, was derived from both the “Moby Dick” IMSA GT racer and Porsche’s Indy open-wheel project. This engine mounted a pair of intercooled sequential turbochargers. A small turbo began producing boost almost from throttle tip-in, while the larger unit came in at about 4,500 rpm, generating a seamless flow of power. This engine pumped out a fearsome-for-the-day 450 brake horsepower at 6,500 rpm. The transmission was a Borg-Warner six-speed, with a very low “G” or “Geland” first gear for the off-road conditions that the 961 rally car might have encountered. A quite docile machine at civilized driving speeds, the 959 could leap from 0–60 mph in less than four seconds, do the standing quarter-mile in just over 12, and reach a maximum speed approaching 200 mph. In the fully leather-upholstered, carpeted, air-conditioned confines of a 959 “Komfort,” this was accomplished in a calm and controlled, even quiet, fashion.

When it came time to stop, huge power-assisted, ventilated disc brakes with ABS handled the task with aplomb. The 959’s 17-inch diameter magnesium wheels and special run-flat tires were specially designed by Bridgestone; hollow spokes allowed use of an air-pressure monitoring system. All told, a well-driven 959 could see off almost any other high-performance car on the planet; not until the arrival of Ferrari’s F40 a few years later was there anything to rival it. Including 16 prototypes, a total of 329 examples were eventually produced between 1985 and 1992.

This handsome 959, finished in Grand Prix White with a “Color to Sample” blue leather interior, was delivered from the factory to the Otto Glöckler Porsche dealership in Frankfurt, Germany, and was first registered on May 6, 1988. The car was used by Mr. Glöckler as his personal car (he even had his name embossed on the leather owners’ manual pouch). Listed options included a pair of heated and electrically height-adjustable sport seats. Documents provided by the current vendor indicate that the vehicle came to Switzerland in 1991 as a duty-free admission when its next owner, Jürgen Oppermann, moved to Lugano, this being the only way to register a Porsche 959 in that country. One of the very few Porsche 959s in Switzerland, the car was registered in Ticino (TI 169 450) and in 1997 relocated to Gstaad. The most recent major service was carried out in November 2014 at Porsche Service Center Gstaad. Service invoices are included with this car, along with the original Vehicle Identity Card, service booklet, and other documentation. At the time of cataloguing, the car had recorded only 25,428 kilometers and was described as being in very good condition.

Even by today’s standards, Porsche’s 959 is one of the automobile world’s true wonders—very fast, well-built, and extremely rare. This well-documented example would please any thoughtful collector.

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

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+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

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+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

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+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

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+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

drose@rmsothebys.com

+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

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+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

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+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

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+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

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+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

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+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

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+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

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+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

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+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

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+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

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+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

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+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

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+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