Porsche’s much-vaunted 959, the German manufacturer’s first supercar, and some would say the best supercar to ever sport the legendary Porsche badge on his nose. Needless to say, this is a true icon that certainly can’t get any better, can it?
At this point, Bruce Canepa not only has ideas to improve the race, but has successfully done so for a number of rich gears, starting with a slight metamorphosis of the Porsche legend, increasing performance, not just a times but many times. Anyone with deep enough pockets can have a thoroughly modern version of one of the rarest supercars on the planet. Rather than cutting, pasting and exploding the classic 959 lines, Canepa is keeping appearances as close to stock as possible, the process, after all, starting with an exclusive $1 million+ supercar worthy of some respect.
The question is, how good is one of the fastest supercars of the 80s when given a facelift? Even without thinking about it, Canepa’s restomod 959 is gorgeous, a custom supercar classic we’d love to own.
9 Rarefy the breed
Arguably the first true hypercar, Porsche’s 959 redefined how fast street-legal cars could be—provided, of course, you had $300,000 to spare. Then there was a question of availability, although it was largely an overheated 911, Porsche would never mass produce the 959, preferring to keep the numbers low, in all only 292 examples were built and sold to customers.
The rarity hasn’t deterred Canepa in his 30+ year quest to improve the 959, gently forcing the chassis, body and drivetrain adding subtle updates that even ardent Porsche fans will find hard to get. spot. With the question of whether to modify an icon quickly fading as you slip behind the wheel, Canepa has achieved the unimaginable, making Porsche 959s rarer and better than ever.
The process begins with an intensive disassembly of more than 500 hours, every nut, bolt and component removed. Once back to bare metal, priming and painting of the 959 chassis can begin, unlike the original, Canepa adopts an overall matt finish, in the same shade as the exterior bodywork.
At this point, owners can let their imaginations run wild by choosing one of 150+ official Porsche colors or creating their own custom paint scheme resulting in a Concours-quality finish guaranteed to turn heads.
seven Porsche’s Flat Six in all its hidden glory
Open the trunk of Porsche’s 959, or any 911 for that matter, and the little turbocharged flat-six engine on display is unlikely to blow your mind. However, don’t be in too much of a hurry, remember that this 444 hp hypercar successfully fought with the weight distribution on its rear axle.
A bodyless engine, Porsche’s 2.85-litre flat-six is deceptively small, with forced induction making up for the lack of displacement. This is where Canepa begins the transformation process, with a larger and more modern parallel BorgWarner turbo setup incorporating internal wastegates allied to a host of race car materials and technologies, power output increases to 800 ch in the current specification.
6 Improved stopping power
More power and more performance also require much more stopping power. While the calipers might say Porsche, the Canepa 959 uses an altogether more powerful setup sourced from Penske.
Comprised of a set of semi-floating rotors, cryo-treated for improved durability without loss of braking, the pads themselves are another Canepa upgrade item to ensure the 959 stops as well as it does. goes, handy when you’re driving a supercar over 220 mph.
5 Lowered ride
On its own, it’s hard to say the Canepa 959 rides an inch lower than Porsche’s best efforts. However, lowering the ride isn’t purely a cosmetic touch, under the arches some modern suspension trickery also reduces weight while improving ride comfort.
Fresh from the factory, the 959 uses an unusual dual-coilover setup allowing for on-the-go suspension adjustments, electric motors and a hydraulic system responsible for a +1.2/-1.2 inch spread depending on terrain. To be completely honest, who takes their 959 off-road? Canepa instead opts for a lower ride height, Penske valved shocks and titanium coil springs reduce ride height while removing unnecessary weight.
4 Subtly modified interior
A true test of any restomod, we challenge any Porsche aficionado to spot the differences between Porsche and Canepa. In truth, 400 man-hours of carefully crafted and hand-sewn leather adorn the entire cockpit, with the tool pouches and owner’s manual receiving the same treatment. The color naturally depends on the taste of each customer.
The devil is in the details, dig deeper, and it becomes apparent that a few modern touches are to be had. Nestled on the center console, Porsche’s navigation system combines modernity and retro. Our favorite, however, is a driver-switchable dual exhaust system, a flick of a console-mounted button unleashing the Canepa’s full 800-hp soundtrack.
3 Spot external differences
With all the changes under the skin, would you be forgiven for thinking or expecting external appendages, a bigger wing or a deeper splitter perhaps? None of these are present, leaving the 959’s near-perfect lines untouched by unnecessary bolts.
The changes are there, hidden in plain sight. Switching to a larger 18-inch magnesium-alloy package, a full-scale version of Porsche’s original five-spoke design dressed in Michelin’s latest and tackiest Cup 2 rubber. Spotting the only other change becomes apparent after dark, the revised headlight internals blazing with the ferocity of a modern supercar.
2 How does this compare to Porsche’s efforts?
Comparing the old with the new, Canepas tweaked 959 offers more power, better brakes and suspension combined with modern rubber, giving it the edge over the original in terms of speed and handling. Bruce Canepa himself claimed a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds, a full second faster than standard. What about other Porsche supercars? Despite a 35-year age difference and 94 horsepower, the Canepa is a close match for the Porsche 918 Spyder, losing by the narrowest of margins.
A close analysis of spec sheets reveals why, at launch, Porsche claimed the 918 Spyder had a curb weight of 3,600 pounds, with batteries and motor responsible for much of its bulk. Likewise, the 959 in its debut weighed 3200 pounds, a featherweight that Canepa shaved off another 200-pound shape.
1 How much, and is it worth it?
Picking up an original, trouble-free Porsche 959 isn’t cheap, with auction listings regularly ranging between $1.2 and $1.4 million, which is hardly surprising, because at the time, no other production car had only reached 200 mph. Of course, Ferrari’s F40 quickly crushed the party.
Opting for the full Canepa experience doesn’t come cheap, with prices “starting” at $2 million before visiting the list of custom options, if you can dream it, you can definitely own it. Are these exorbitant prices worth it? As far as ownership goes on the rarity side, only 50 Canepa SCs are going to be built, each offering nearly twice the power in a lighter body. Suddenly, the stock top speed of the 959 feels a little subdued by comparison.
Roadsters are great fun to drive, and there are plenty of affordable options too.
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