The starting line-up of the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1986 was dominated by trucks and all-terrain vehicles including three Porsche 959 cars from Zuffenhausen. The third 959 vehicle was a service car that took sixth place. The Porsche Museum has preserved the complete trio as part of its collection to this day.

The engineering team spent two years transforming the 959 into a rally car in the 1980’s. The team reinforced the suspension with double shock absorbers on the front axle and fitted the model with a set of all-terrain tyres. The electro-hydraulically controlled centre differential transferred the power efficiently between the front and rear axles if the surface didn’t require all-wheel drive . As a result, the Porsche is capable of reaching speeds of up to 210 km/h. 

Because the second-placed car from 1986 was still in very good shape, the team managed to replace as little as possible while keeping the maximum number of original parts. The 959 Paris-Dakar had around 18000 kilometres on the clock, the rally car was powered by an air-/water-cooled flat-six engine with compound turbocharging and the output of the six-cylinder engine was reduced to 400 PS due to the low-quality fuel.  

For this long-distance rally, the sports car manufacturer optimised many features to improve its overall performance, this includes the installation of the engine control units (ECUs) which were positioned high up in the car to enable the driver to pass across rivers without damaging the ECU. Porsche also prepared the oil cooler and oil lines under the rear wings  and to reduce the weight further, the manufacturer added holes into the brake discs and decided on a body, doors and bonnets made of Kevlar. The dry weight for the car is 1,260 kilograms.

From 23rd to 26th February, visitors can see the car at the Retro Classics event in Stuttgart, as part of the ‘75 Years of Porsche Sports Cars’ special exhibition in the atrium east entrance to the exhibition centre. The first part of the ‘959 Paris-Dakar’ documentary will be available in full from 1 February 2023 on the Porsche YouTube channel. Five more films will follow on 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 February.

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