THE TIMELESS MASTERPIECE

Written by: Neehan Rashid

Pictures: Courtesy

PORSCHE 959, A SMALL BLAST FROM THE PAST.

 I believe that nothing in the word is perfect, but I always seem to make an exception when I talk about the Porsche 959. Engineered by mad but yet sophisticated Germans, the 959 is a car that has been assembled to the point of perfection.

 

“With the combination of race-car performance and luxury-sedan comfort, when it comes to survive rush-hour traffic, school runs, and drives on the mountain passes the 959 can do it all in style and elegance. “

The 959’s excellence is built on power and speed. With an acceleration that can be described as a “rocket” and the highest top end ever measured during the time, the 959 stood alone at the pinnacle of production-car performance. You may think I am exaggerating my way through this article, but I am not. Considering you to be a man of figures, let me provide you with the data you will like.  0-to-60-mph in 3.6 seconds. 100 mph from rest in a mere 8.8 seconds, 120 mph in 12.4 seconds, and 140 mph in less than 20 seconds. When we talk about a quarter-mile run, the 959 completes it with a time of twelve seconds flat, at a terminal speed of 116 mph. As remarkable as these acceleration figures are, the 959 does not fail to impress when it accelerates in a more civilized fashion.

Now you are entitled to question the 959’s engine which gives it so much power. But why should you? It is after all assembled with 24 valves, four overhead camshafts, twin turbochargers, two intercoolers, two water-cooled heads, and six titanium connecting rods. All of these components thrive at high rpm but are weak at low engine speeds. But the German engineers were smart enough to come up with a solution. In the 959 lies a staged turbocharger system. At low rpm, all of the exhaust flow is directed through just one turbocharger, bringing it quickly up to speed. Boost starts to build at 1500 rpm and by about 3000 rpm, the peak pressure of 14.5 psi is available. The second turbocharger kicks in at about 4300 rpm, unleashing the engine’s full capabilities to which the 959 responds by thrusting forward as if a second set of cylinders were activated.

 

Developing 444 hp at 6500 rpm, the 959’s 2.8-liter flat six-cylinder produces more than 156 hp per liter. To put that into perspective, the Callaway Corvette’s twin-turbo V-8 has twice the displacement of the 959 engine yet produces about 100 hp less, for a specific output of only 60 hp per liter. So if you want power and efficiency at the same time, stealing a 959 from the museum in Stuttgart is the way to go.

But complimenting the 959 doesn’t end here. The all-aluminum power plant is always smooth and refined. It idles evenly at 800 rpm, and can be driven away at 1000 rpm in top gear without any hesitation. When it climbs into the boost mode, the power surge is said to feel like “a strong push rather than a hard punch”. This allows the driver to use the 959’s insane thrust with such confidence.  The engineers who created this work of art also knew that speed without security and stability is senseless.

Every aspect of the 959 promotes confidence in its high-speed abilities. The power steering is said to have the pronounced self-centering of a 928. Tight door and glass seals limit wind noise. The brakes are powerful and fade-free no matter how hard or at what speed they’re applied. At almost any cruising speed, the engine would seem to be loafing while the control-arm suspension keeps a tight rein on body motions but still absorbs bumps with subtle strokes. Even though I make it sound like I have driven the car, but I haven’t. These are the words of Individuals who were privileged enough to drive the car and say that,

“The 959 rides more comfortably than the 911”.

For the quoted statement, most of the credit should go to the 959’s unparalleled combination of performance and refinement that the high technology incorporated in its design had to go through.  However, Porsche’s blend of low-speed refinement and high-end power would be impossible without its Bosch Motronic engine-control system to optimize fuel metering, ignition timing, and turbocharger boost for all operating conditions. Similarly, its unusually broad power band could not have been achieved without the staged turbocharger setup.

Technology also had purpose in order to harness the considerable amount of power that the engine produces. The Porsche “Control Coupling” four-wheel-drive system distributes power to the wheels according to the dynamic loading on the tires, providing out of the world stability and handling at all speeds. The damping of the three-position shock absorbers also increases progressively with speed to provide proper ride control without excessive harshness. The presence of the Automatic ride-height control allows the springs to be calibrated for handling without regard to the idiosyncrasies of payloads and vertical aerodynamic forces. The 959’s tire-pressure-monitoring system which acts as a very interesting safety device, discourages its driver from trying to set speed records when their tires are underinflated. It was the Porsche 959 that really shaped the future generation 911s, because if it was never created, you would be most probably driving a front engine GT3RS. In other words, it helped preserve the true Porsche roots.

Even though the exterior of the 959 is beyond excellence the interior is no less. The cabin is remarkably well attenuated when it comes to blocking out the wind noise, mechanical vibration, and road rumble that can intrude and ruin your driving pleasure. Its air conditioning, power windows, seats, sound system, and other luxury features work as well as any Cadillac’s. Special details such as aerodynamically efficient, wide-angle exterior mirrors and tel