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1985 Porsche 959 S Prototype

One of the three F-series Porsche 959 Sport prototypes

The quickest Porsche 959 of them all, weighing 100kg less than the production Sport model

One of the handful of F-series Porsche 959 prototypes to escape the clutches of the factory

A genuinely unique car, boasting a plethora of specific prototype features

The genesis of what was once the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced supercar

Chassis no. WPOZZZ93ZFS010009

Engine no. 65F0009

The Porsche 959

If you were an impressionable teenager in the 1980s, you had one of three supercars on your wall: the Lamborghini Countach, the Ferrari F40 or the Porsche 959. Gamechanger is an apt way to describe the latter – a Teutonic technological tour de force born of Porsche’s desire to go racing in the then-burgeoning Group B category.

Ground-breaking innovations including variable torque bias, sequential turbochargers, ABS brakes, adjustable ride height and onboard tyre pressure monitors helped Porsche to redefine what the word versatile meant in the world of performance motoring.

The 959 was a car which produced north of 450HP, nudged 200mph and delivered its mind-bending performance in a manner which made you feel like you were spinning the earth backwards. Even by the standards of today’s supercars, a spirited drive in a 959 alters your perception of speed. Yet its miraculous Jekyll and Hyde character meant unlike Porsche’s contemporaries, this was as comfortable and genuinely refined as a Mercedes-Benz saloon. The 959 is the genuine everyday supercar which pre-dated the cliché.


The Porsche 959 S Prototype ‘F9’

The first and the last. Music to any collector’s ears. While the small pool of pre-production 959s were divided into three distinct series, it is the earliest F-series cars, of which just 12 were built, that are prototypes in the truest sense of the word. Unlike the N- and V-series cars which followed, these were 930 Turbo chassis earmarked by Porsche’s head of development Helmuth Bott for transformation.

The first two were non-functional mock-ups and, from an aesthetic point of view, the 10 driveable cars which followed edged further and further towards the final production version of the 959. Enter F9, which distinguishes itself further from its pre-production counterparts, as it’s one of the three F-series cars which served as prototypes for the 959 S, the enhanced ‘Sport’ version of the car that did away with the ‘standard’ car’s heavy adjustable suspension, air-conditioning, central-locking system and rear seats, among numerous other things. Porsche built just 29 Sports, a comparatively minute number in the context of the total production run of 337 cars.   

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is indeed a production 959. But take some time to study a little longer and you’ll discover a number of anomalies which allude to the Graphite Metallic car’s factory prototype beginnings.

At the rear of the voluptuous wind-cheating bodywork, for example, is a perfectly imperfect rear wing whose form could only have been shaped by hand. The crudely fabricated exhaust tips droop downwards towards the floor. Peer inside the wheel arches and you’ll find no protective liners. The external oil filler cap aft of the passenger-side door is opened not by a handle in the cabin but rather the engine bay. And the headlamps are devoid of washer jets.

The final production Sport-spec 959 did away with the Komfort car’s plush carpeted leather interior. But F9 has said Komfort interior. There are more quirks inside. There are ducts and buttons for an air-conditioning system, though there is no air-conditioning compressor fitted to the car.

Where there are usually two rotary dials for the damping and ride height systems, there is only one. And it doesn’t function, because this is a 959 S, which foregoes the complex and heavier active suspension. Finally, there is a mysterious third stalk protruding from the steering column labelled ‘4WD’, which switches the adaptive differential depending on the conditions of the road and the spriteliness of the driving.

As a result of F9’s unique specification, it’s estimated to weigh somewhere in the region of 100kg less than the final production-spec 959 S. And as a result of that drastic weight saving, it’s not unreasonable to suggest this is the fastest 959 of them all.

The F-series prototypes were subjected to the most rigorous and punishing schedule of testing. Porsche’s band of designers, engineers and test-drivers went to extraordinary lengths to build the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced supercar, covering hundreds of thousands of miles over a three-year period with the pre-production 959s, everywhere from the endless straights of Ehra-Lessien and the unrelenting curves of the Nürburgring Nordschleife to snowy Sweden and the biting sub-zero climes of Norway’s North Cape.

Registered with the factory ‘Porsche Weissach’ registration number BB-PW 931, F9 served primarily as a testbed for the transmission, clocking up most of its miles on the eight-mile high-speed bowl at Nardo in Italy, though it also negotiated the snowy frozen lakes of Sweden. Naturally, as a factory development car, F9 also turned countless laps at Porsche’s fabled Weissach test-track. Remarkably for what was an essentially unfinished car, F9 also starred on the front cover and in an extensive feature in Sport Auto magazine in 1985. In it, the journalist Norbert Haug (of subsequent Mercedes Formula 1 fame) was granted early access to the 959’s intense test and development programme.

That this experimental prototype ever escaped the clutches of the factory is an extraordinary fact in itself. The man we have to thank is Vasek Polak, the legendary US-based Porsche and Audi concessionaire responsible for thrusting the Stuttgart marque onto the motorsport stage in America.

The legend goes that in return for assisting Porsche with the 959’s development, Polak was gifted F9 and its sister car F7 in 1988 – strictly on the basis that the cars would be used for show and display purposes and he wouldn’t drive them. Porsche was reportedly so adamant on this that no keys were supplied upon delivery.

Three years later, both F7 and F9 were loaned to the famous Matsuda Collection in Japan, where they remained proudly on display for six years. Vasek Polak tragically passed away in 1997, at which point the two Porsche 959 prototypes were offered for sale in Europe, where they’d been sent by Polak with the intention of being restored.

Brookes’ Les Grandes Marques a Monaco was the auction at which they were offered – and an Italian collector and rally driver by the name of Mauro Bompani was the man who left as the second private custodian of F9. After a long-winded period of very German negotiating with Porsche, Bompani was able to get the factory to both confirm F9’s precise testing duties from its first life as prototype and supply a set of keys to get the car started.

Bompani promptly sent F9 to Rennsport Porsche in Italy to be recommissioned after its years of inactivity. Totalling 33m Italian lire, the extensive works included comprehensive rebuilds of the engine, fuel system, master cylinders, brakes, clutch and door locks. Clearly so taken with this most special of Porsches that Bompani kept the car for over two decades.

The Austrian collector Georg Konradsheim acquired F9 from Bompani in 2020. Recognising the historical significance of the car and its key role in the fabled story of the illustrious Porsche marque, Konradsheim invested great time, energy and funding into the production of a large hardback book dedicated to F9. Naturally, the book accompanies the car today. F9 was acquired by its final and current owner in 2020, who registered the car in the United Kingdom.

It’s believed that only a handful of the factory F-series Porsche 959 prototypes remain in private hands today, of which F9 is the only designated Sport model. That the car remains in such fantastic and fully operational condition is scarcely believable. Born out of a stillborn motorsport project and developed to an exhaustive and dizzyingly expensive extent, the like of which had rarely – if ever – been seen before, the Porsche 959 offered a fascinating peek into the future of the supercar. Just 29 of the flagship Sport models were produced, the realisation of which depended on this very prototype. F9 represents the genesis of what was once the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced supercar.



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