Porsche’s new found determination to re-invent the 911, after coming close to giving it the axe in 1981 managed to scale new heights of automobiles technology. The 959 was so far ahead of the opposition when it was first driven in 1987 that it re-defined the term. Although based on central section of a standard 911, the 959 bore little resemblance to it. the familiar 911 lines had been swollen, with new nose and a radically different tail. Under the new lines was a 4×4 drivetrain and a high tech twin turbo version of the flat six engine. Even the damping and the ride height were electronically adjustable. One German publication managed to clock the 959 at a maximum speed of 197mph, but then the 959 small for a ‘supercar’ and had 450bhp to push it through the air. The 959 smashed other performance benchmarks too, achieving the 0-100mph dash in just 8.3 seconds. What really surprised the first drivers of the 959 was the ease with which this performance could be accessed. Up until the 959 arrived, seriously fast cars were generally large, heavy and extremely difficult to drive flat out.
The traditional super car was more closely related to out and out race cars. Porsche moved the goalposts in a very significant way with the 959. It developed complex but reliable technology to allow the averagely skilled driver to pilot a car a tremendous speed. Experts brought up on the pleasure gained from driving a challenging car quickly were astonished by the outright performance of the 959, but less impressed by what some critics and drivers thought a characterless road rocket.