A very special Porsche 959, one of three rally prototypes, was the star lot of RM Sotheby's Porsche 70th anniversary sale, selling for $5,945,000
RM Sotheby’s Porsche 70th anniversary auction, held at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, made auction history on Saturday as the the first ever Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar rally car to be offered under the hammer smashed its estimate to top the sale at $5,945,000 (£4,657,759).
The 1985 model is the first example to ever be offered publicly, and had been expected to attract $3,000,000 to $3,400,000 (£2,350,425 - £2,663,815).
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The 959 was a manifestation of Porsche’s desire to build the fastest, most technologically advanced road car ever, and three examples were built for gruelling 1985 Paris-Dakar rally thanks to the encouragement of six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx, who finished the rally in sixth place in a Porsche Type 953 911 in 1984.
The model would actually serve as a 959-development prototype, representing the Stuttgart manufacturer in the most intense endurance event this side of the .
The three 959s were equipped with the naturally aspirated 3.2-litre Carrera engine, however it wasn’t all standard. Far from it! Under the fierce aesthetics lurked the suspension, modified four-wheel drive system, and body panels developed for the new 959.
Chassis no.010015 was the one that went to sale with RM Sotheby’s, and was piloted with the #186 livery by Dominique Lemoyne and René Metge, who claimed Paris-Dakar victory in 1981, 1984 in a Porsche Type 953 911, and 1986 – behind the wheel of a Porsche 959.
Of the 552 entries in the rally, only 146 completed the 14,000km race – of which 010015 was a casualty. Forced to retire with oil line failure, the vehicle’s fate was far less violent compared to its brethren. The other two 959s were involved in a series of forceful accidents. So although the car on offer did not finish, it certainly served as a testbed for Porsche’s future running gear, including the three 959s entered by Porsche in the 1986 Paris-Dakar. After a testing year previously, the 959 dominated the 1986 event, finishing 1st, 2nd, and 6th overall.
Following its retirement from the racing scene, the 959 had been showcased and displayed during regular vintage events across the U.S and Europe, including appearances at the Goodwood Festival of Speed throughout 2004 to ‘06. Under the careful supervision of previous owner Ickx, the 959 even ended up at The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, where it won best in class in 2008.
Besides boasting provenance from long-term ownership in a private collection of historically significant cars, this one also proudly wears the Porsche heritage badge; playing a huge integral role in the development of the original Porsche supercar. It can now add auction groundbreaker to its achievements.