An exceptionally rare Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar race car from 1985 will be auctioned off by RM Sotheby’s on October 27 as part of the auction house’s 70th Anniversary Porsche sale in Atlanta.
Porsche famously built the 959 as a rally car for the Group B championship. To do so, it was required to build 200 road-legal examples and, in the process, the German automaker created the most advanced production car in its history.
However, FIA dropped the class in 1986 after a number of serious accidents, the last of which resulted in the death of Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto in the 1986 Tour de Corse, and replaced it with Group A, which required a minimum of 5,000 production cars.
So, practically overnight, Porsche was left with an advanced racing car they couldn’t race; at least not in WRC. Instead, they decided to enter the most famous off-road rally in the world: the Paris-Dakar.
Just six examples of the Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar were ever produced. Beyond making use of most of the advanced components of the road-going 959, the Paris-Dakar models also featured the same adjustable suspension and all-wheel drive system of Porsche’s planned Group B rally car.
While the increased ride-height immediately distinguishes the race car from the road legal model, that’s not the most obvious point of difference. Instead, the most eye-catching element of the Paris-Dakar racer is the Rothmans livery that adorns the bodywork and was also used by the factory-run 956 endurance racers.
Cars like this don’t come up for sale very often.
While Porsche’s production-spec 959 was powered by a twin-turbocharged flat-six, the Paris-Dakar racer has a 3.2-liter naturally-aspirated flat-six from a 911 Carrera. This particular example failed to take victory at the famous race but the following year, a different 959 won the gruesome race.
Alongside the Paris-Dakar version, Porsche also built the 959-based 961 to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1986, the car finished first in its class and 7th overall. In 1987, the car returned but failed to finish after a spin while in 11th place.
RM Sotheby’s expects this 959 Paris-Dakar to sell for between $3 million and $3.4 million.