Porsche Restores Formula One Driver's 959 Sport

Supercars / 4 Comments

Nick Heidfeld's 959 Sport is one of 29 vehicles built.

The Porsche 911 may have been the ultimate symbol of '80s success but, at the time, it wasn't the sharpest weapon in Zuffenhausen's arsenal. That title was proudly held by the inimitable 959, a staggering piece of engineering that was far ahead of its time. Innovations such as tire pressure monitoring and active suspension could be found in the Teutonic package and, while that sounds pedestrian by today's standards, it was a big deal in 1986.

Like all the finer things in life, the 959 is a rarity. Just 292 units left the factory floor but the more focused Sport is scarcer still. A mere 29 units roam the earth and this white-painted beauty (seen below) is one of them. Porsche has recently shared the restoration journey it took with this 959 Sport, which belongs to former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld.

Porsche
Porsche
Porsche

It may have traveled just 2,599 miles at the time of restoration, but that didn't mean the 959 wasn't in need of a mechanical refresh. "If such a technologically innovative car is not driven regularly, storage damage is, unfortunately, unavoidable ... the powertrain and chassis have to be overhauled in their entirety," said Porsche Classic's Uwe Makrutzki.

If a 959 is in need of rehabilitation, there's no one better suited to the job than Makrutzki and his team. He notes that nearly every example ever built has been with them at some point. "We have had a lot of practice," adds the head of factory restoration.

While he describes the process of restoring a 959 as "very special and wonderful," bringing Heidfeld's example back to showroom condition had its challenges. In a former life, the engine management system had been modified - something Porsche swiftly rectified with an original Motronic unit.

Porsche
Porsche
Porsche

First brought to Porsche Classic in 2017, the 959 Sport was finally discharged with a clean bill of health in 2021. Owner Nick Heidfeld considers the 959 as one of the all-time greats. "I've had the privilege of driving many high-performance cars, but driving this high-tech legend is something special for me ... even today, it doesn't drive like a 30-year-old car, but like a much more modern vehicle."

Setting the Sport apart from the more common Komfort models are a few minor details. Porsche stripped the hardcore variant of several luxuries (including the central locking and electric windows) in the name of weight reduction and also upped the power from 444 to 508 horsepower, courtesy of larger turbochargers.

Regardless of whether it's the Komfort or Sport, Makrutzki says 959s need to be driven. "Covering around [62 miles] in mixed operation at least once a month provides protection from damage due to standing still." The owner of this high-mileage 959 certainly has nothing to worry about, then.

Porsche
Porsche
Porsche
Porsche

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