When the Pearl White metallic Porsche Group B concept car was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1983, the response from the press and public was overwhelming. After the show had closed, Porsche had sufficient orders, sight unseen, to proceed with the design and development even though the purchase price had not yet been announced. The Porsche 959 boxed set reveals the magic of this sports car from the drawing board through to reality, and beyond.
As with so many of Porsche’s legendary creations, it is motorsport that gives birth to its future roadgoing models, the race track serving as the proving ground for what we find on our roads today. The car had to be unmistakably 911, it had to compete and win against the best in the world (in both rally and track racing), it had to encompass an altogether new 4WD system, and yet it had to be eminently driveable as an everyday 911.
Technically, the Group B concept, or C29 as it was called internally, began as early as 1982 and had to include advanced aerodynamic features such as aprons and underbody panels, and a dynamic new rear wing. This resulted in a Cd value of 0.31 and sufficient downforce to cope with a top speed of 315 km/h. The car was so well packaged, with staggering performance, that it would have been a winner straight out of the box had the FIA not cancelled the Group B class. With the stroke of a pen, the world had been deprived of watching the Ferraris and Porsches going head-to-head. However, so much time and money had been spent on the project at that stage, that Porsche could not afford for the technology that had been developed, to just lie around unused. And so, they repackaged the car as the 959 roadgoing car and aimed it at a group of lucky customers. And lucky they were, because just 292 examples of this technological powerhouse were eventually built, all of which Porsche sold at a substantial loss.
Author, Jürgen Lewandowski, witnessed the development of the Porsche 959 more than three decades ago. In his three-volume set, he describes the difficulties experienced in the development of the super car, which included technology used in three Paris-Dakar rallies, the Pharaohs Rally (Egypt) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1986 and 1987. While the 959 was very successful in rallies, it was less so in circuit racing, although it still possessed the potential to finish in the top group.
The Porsche 959 boxed set
The concept, design, development, achievements and history of the 959 are covered in three separate volumes by Lewandowski. Volume 1 is the biggest of the three books with 210 pages and 140 photos, and it contains the photographic and pictorial part of the story with just a short textual introduction to each section. The imagery is outstanding, and includes concept drawings, designs and early photography of the design mules complete with engineering markings on the bodywork from the day the concept was taking shape. The photography continues right up until the car’s 30th anniversary, illustrating just how the shape and technology of the 959 has continued to captivate the attention of admirers wherever it goes.
Volume 2 is a smaller book, perhaps a little bigger than A5, and covers the ‘birth of a legend’. This volume, just 64 pages in length, includes the development days highlighting, in words, the difficult steps experienced in the car’s progress. While the development timeline grew longer and longer, customers who had parted with cash to secure one of the cars still remained patient, because they knew that Porsche was busy building something very special. This was in spite of not knowing what the ultimate selling price of the 959 would be. The author describes here what the competitors in the market were dishing up, but even though the 959 was still just a concept, it still offered a more appealing proposition for Porsche’s customers.
Volume 3, the Fact Book, is the smallest of the three books (by way of dimensions), and contains the facts about the 959 in its 144 pages. There, the reader will find specifications for the Group B race car, the rally car, as well as the roadgoing models which includes the ‘Komfort’ option. Also listed are all of the ‘test car prototypes’ which provides an interesting look into the number of cars used for this purpose. The author has included official Technical Data Sheets providing seldom seen details about the car’s tests that it underwent. At the back of this volume are several drawings of the car and photos of the engine in exploded view.
What do you get?
The Porsche 959 arrives in an attractive box containing the three volumes that are held together with a strong rubber band. A sheet of paper in the box informs the buyer what number his/her copy is in the series of 2500 – a nice touch. While this all looks very creative and attractive, I can’t help but feel that the publisher has missed an opportunity with a book on a subject as important and significant as the Porsche 959. For starters, if I want to read a book about the 959, I would prefer to have all the info in one book and if it is too large for one volume, then it could be split chronologically into two volumes. Looking through the awesome photos of Volume 1, I would like to know what I am looking at and some explanatory text in the right place would be helpful. Although the images are of the highest order, they are not captioned which leaves the reader wondering sometimes. Secondly, having all three volumes in ever-decreasing size is impractical, as the smallest book (Volume 3) could very easily slip out of the rubber band which is meant to keep them together.
All of the text contained in the three volumes, and Volume 1 has very little text, is provided in two languages. There is, no doubt, a cost advantage to printing dual languages in one run, but even so, the content in all three volumes could have been easily contained in one slightly thicker volume, perhaps in an attractive slip case. Would I buy it? The answer is yes, if only for the accuracy and importance of the story about the 959 development, specifications and data – this is a really valuable record. As a collector of Porsche books, you won’t want to be without the record of such a significant member of the Porsche family as the 959, on your bookshelf.
|Publisher||Delius Klasing Verlag|
|Published||10 October 2016|
|Language(s)||German and English|
|Print run||Limited to 2500 numbered books|
|Box consists of||3 volumes – 1 hardback & 2 paperbacks|
|Page count||418 pages (combined)|
|Image count||154 photos (combined)|
|Format||296 x 312 x 50 mm|
Written by: Glen Smale