Nick Heidfeld's Porsche 959 S at Porsche Classic

Nick Heidfeld had his Porsche 959 S restored at Porsche Classic. There was a lot to do, the supercar was in the workshop for 4.5 years.

The Porsche 959 is considered one of the most legendary German cars of the 1980s. Built only from 1987 to 1988, it was at times the fastest production car in the world. According to Porsche, it put 292 copies on the road, 29 of them as particularly sporty models, which originally got an S as a suffix to their name. Celebrities are attracted to the Porsche 959 : Ex-Microsoft boss Bill Gates has one, racing and Porsche development driver Walter Röhrl had one, as did Boris Becker and the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, who died in 1989, had two . To this day, the 959, which was almost bursting with innovations at the time, has lost none of its appeal – the car regularly fetches millions at auction. One of the younger owners of the cult sports car is racing driver Nick Heidfeld, who apparently only bought his 959 S from 1987 in 2017. In the summer of 2017, Heidfeld brought the car to Porsche Classic - the restoration took 4.5 years.

auto motor und sport drove it at 339 km/h

The Porsche 959 S generates 515 hp with its 2.8-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine - this means that 100 km/h is reached after 3.7 seconds. The engineers have achieved the increase in performance from the "normal" 450 to 515 hp for the S model with larger turbochargers and a modified pressure relief valve. In 1988, auto motor und sport drove a 959 S on the high-speed test track in Nardò, Italy, at a sensational 339 km/h . Nick Heidfeld's copy had only driven 4,183 kilometers by 2017. Makes 139 kilometers per year - ten times the mileage would have been better. After all, the 959 tends to be damaged quickly - its complex high-performance technology must be allowed to work regularly. Uwe Makrutzki, Head of Factory Restoration at Porsche Classic, has meanwhile been able to evaluate the years of experience of many 959 drivers. He urgently points out that the 959 should be driven at least 100 kilometers per month in mixed operation in order to avoid damage when stationary.

Makrutzki emphasizes that a complete overhaul of the drive train and chassis is unavoidable for a 959 with stationary damage. "Experience has shown that any reduction in the scope of work leads to subsequent problems," warns the Porsche Classic professional. Porsche's classic department is well prepared for the maintenance of the rare 959: After the end of production, the experts secured all the testing and repair tools from all areas of the plant. In addition, hardly anyone has as much experience with the 959 as the employees of Porsche Classic - after all, almost every example built has now been in the hands of the specialists at least once.

Engine control was manipulated

A close examination of Heidfeld's 959 S revealed that the engine control was manipulated. With the consent of the ex-Formula 1 driver, those responsible for Porsche Classic have restored the original condition of the Bosch Motronic. All work was completed in December 2021. In 1987, ten-year-old racing driver Nick Heidfeld raves that the 959 was his childhood dream car. Now, at the age of 45, he is pleased that his 959 S doesn't drive like a 30-year-old car - but like a much more modern one.

Walter Röhrl advises: step on the gas!

Walter Röhrl was involved as a development driver on the 959 at the time. Even today, the legendary rally driver raves about the car with its technical refinements such as register charging for the engine, cleverly controlled all-wheel drive, speed-dependent level control and magnesium wheels with hollow spokes for tire pressure monitoring. Röhrl's only small point of criticism: The steering wheel cannot be adjusted, which, given his height of 1.96 meters, leads to a slightly unergonomic seating position: "But with a little will, anything is possible." he emphasizes dryly. Röhrl seems to like the fact that the rear quickly follows the centrifugal force as soon as you take your foot off the gas in a corner. The countermeasure is stepping on the gas: "Anyone who didn't do this was going backwards very quickly." Röhrl points out with a smile.

Nick Heidfeld should now drive his 959 S at least the 100 kilometers per month recommended by Porsche Classic, which sounds like a bearable fate. Porsche has not yet revealed how bearable the costs for the 4.5-year restoration were.

Conclusion

The Porsche 959 is a legendary automobile that in 1987 pushed the boundaries of what was possible with series sports cars. For a while the fastest production vehicle in the world, the Porsche, packed with innovations, is still a dream car today. It is therefore right and important that the specimens that have been preserved continue to be preserved.

Porsche Classic has now restored Nick Heidfeld's 959 S - so completely that the work took 4.5 years. The specialists use the original Porsche tools for their work, which guarantees the best possible reconditioning. The costs for such a project must be unimaginably high, but on the other hand they must also be manageable for every owner of a Porsche 959.

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