I first saw this car towards the end of 2011. I was visiting Specialist Cars of Malton, based in Yorkshire, UK, on the pretext of another car photo shoot. Owner John Hawkins gestures, “Here, let me show you this”, heading to a side door. Anyone knowing John will be aware that you should be very cautious when he says things like that. You should also check the bottom of a coffee cup before accepting it.
Opening a side door, we’re looking at an immaculate, Guards Red Porsche 959. Rare, but not unusual in John’s business. Obtaining the unobtainable is a large slice of his work. However, he then says, “959 Sport – Chassis Number One – Delivery Mileage”
I pause, “You’re shitting me.”
“Never turned a wheel?”
“Delivery mileage, 233….”
“You’re probably not going to let me drive that, are you?”
He had a point…
Today, we’re back in the summer sunshine to photograph the car and take a close look at this unique Porsche 959 and hear the story. “We were commissioned by a client to find not just a Porsche 959, but the rarest, most unusual 959. There are always a handful of 959’s in the marketplace at any one time, but he didn’t want those. He wanted the rarest.”
Well, I guess John found it. Just do the maths. There were allegedly 337 Porsche 959’s built in total. Of those, 29 were Sport models, as opposed to Komfort models. This means that they were built without the height adjustable front suspension, had no leather seats and instead had a rare odd cloth covering akin to one of those hairy grey blazers that your history teacher used to wear. Plus Sports had a full roll cage and harness as standard. So that makes it rarer. But, this car is chassis number one of the Sport production run. Yes, it’s getting very rare now. And it’s never really been driven, showing just 233 kms. That should cover it.
So where has it been all those years? It was supplied new from the factory in Germany to a collector in Switzerland. He owned is for several years and appears to have been the person that probably put two hundred of those kilometers on the odometer. Then, it was sold to a Mexican businessman. So how did you find it in Mexico? “It never went to Mexico. It came to London from Switzerland and was put into secure, air conditioned storage and that’s where it’s been ever since. There’s a good chance the previous owner never even saw his purchase.”
To the drivers amongst us, that seems insane. Why buy what is acknowledged as being the pinnacle of Porsche technology of the era and never, ever drive it? Of course, a car collector has a different motivation. In the same way that many owners of historically significant racing cars never actually drive them themselves, owning the ultimate example of something is the motivation.
So the car has sat there in suspended animation for literally decades. Unused, never turning a wheel. Just how do you value a car like that and how do you convince the owner to sell? John’s understandably tight lipped about those two points. We’re aware of the exact price but we’ll leave to conjecture, together with the identity of it’s new owner, who’s located in the Asia Pacific region. He’s been to see his new car and he’s understandably very excited about getting it home. In fact, he’s creating a bespoke building just to house it.
So, what’s it like? Spooky, emotional, fascinating are the words that spring to mind. Walk around the car and every single aspect of it is literally brand new. Squat down, look inside the wheels, the bells holding the brake discs are still brand new. The pads aren’t even bedded in. there is, quite literally, not a single mark on the car. I’ve seen concours Porsches before, but this takes the genre to a new level. The red and yellow dabs of paint on the various bolt heads are all still intact, every label or information sticker, the type of thing that starts to peel and curl at the edges are all pristine. Open the doors and probably the most powerful thing about this car hits you. The smell. It still really does smell brand new inside, exactly as it did in the 1980’s when it rolled off the production line. I slip down into the seat, being oh-so careful not to catch the sole of my shoes on the rollcage door bars and close the door with that 80’s Porsche thunk I love so much. Breathe in, put your hands on a steering wheel that could have been made yesterday, reach down to the gearshift, with “Gelande” where 1st gear sits. It doesn’t feel as if any other person has ever touched it.
Reach out, turn the key. The dash lights up, turn it further, there’s the familiar Porsche 911 starter chatter, then it bursts into life, doing that familiar early 911 ECU thing where it hunts up and down a couple of cycles before settling into that urgent idle. “So did it just start first time, then?”
“When we went to see it, it hadn’t been started in years, so the owner left strict instructions that it was not to be started. We were faced with buying it blind and transporting it back to the workshops.”
“So what sort of work needed doing?”
“Very little in terms of restoration, mostly stuff done as a precaution. We flushed the fuel tank and system, fitted new fuel pumps, oil change and then spun the engine over with the plugs out and then went right through it trying to think of anything that would deteriorate due to inactivity. We managed to get a new set of the correct tyres, so they were fitted too. We took it outside, it started first go.”
Sitting in the sunshine, the car looks stunning, totally flawless. There’s only one thing that springs to mind with owning it. Whoever it’s future owners are, nobody can ever drive it. Start putting miles onto that odometer and suddenly, it’s not that unique Porsche 959 any more. So if you aspire to owning this car at some point, it would be wise to set aside enough funds to buy a second 959, that one just for driving….
Thanks to John Hawkins, Mark Mullen and all at Specialist Cars Malton