Porsche 911 history: the complete timeline from 901 to 992 - Porsche 959: 1986 - 1989

On the cusp of the next all-new 992 Porsche 911, we trace its origins back to 1963

Porsche 959: 1986 - 1989

Developed initially for Group B racing, by the time the production 959 was released in 1986, the racing class was banned. The 959 only experienced success in motorsport once, the Paris Dakar Rally of 1986, but it was the 959’s application of world-beating tech on the road that was its greatest asset.

Using a bespoke 959/50 engine, the 2850cc flat-six was adorned with twin sequential turbos to produce 444bhp and 369lb ft of torque. Thanks to the innovative all-wheel drive system 0-62mph was dealt with in 3.7sec, reaching a 196mph top speed, making it the fastest car in the world at the time. To reach these figures, Porsche’s engineers quickly came at odds with tradition, with a need for more aggressive cooling. As a result, Porsche engineers kept the block air-cooled, but water-cooled the heads. 

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

> Click here for our icon review of the Porsche 959

But this was just the tip of a technological iceberg, as the 959 went on to inspire a generation of supercar technology and development. A total of 292 production units were built, spanning three model years.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Most Popular


BMW M5 F90 vs E28 M5, RS6, E500 and Lotus Carlton: supersaloons old vs new

From the first to the very latest, we take a dive into the history of the supersaloon with the 1985 BMW M5 E28 and other classics taking on today's mo…
4 Apr 2020
Honda NSX

Honda NSX review - enough to take on its European rivals?

Honda’s supercar is immensely capable and startlingly fast, but it’s easier to respect than it is to love
6 Apr 2020
Lamborghini Huracan

Lamborghini Huracán Performante gains twin turbochargers

US-based AMS Performance has fitted a pair of snails to the Lamborghini Huracán Performante
6 Apr 2020
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019