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Retro

Porsche has restored Jacky Ickx’s 1986 959 Paris-Dakar racer

The original all-terrain supercar is now ready to be driven again. Sign us up

Published: 02 Feb 2023

This particular Porsche 959 never won the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally. It finished second, behind a 959 that did, and in front of a third 959 that ended up coming in sixth. Porsche’s Classic bods recently decided to give this second-placed motor a once over, and this is the result.

Though, it’s no nut-and-bolt restoration. Indeed 1986’s winning Porsche 959 – driven by René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne – has been left untouched to “keep it in a kind of time capsule, so to speak, with all of the physical traces of the rally preserved for as long as possible”, according to Porsche’s museum workshop boss Kuno Werner.

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So the treatment to this car, driven by Jacky Ickx and Claude Brasseur, has been what you might call ‘sympathetic’. “We want to keep the original condition and only lightly overhaul the car while eliminating any technical flaws,” Werner said of Ickx and Brasseur’s 959. Apparently, despite being well over 30 years old, it was still ‘in very good shape’, showing just over 18,000km on the clock - the length of the Paris-Dakar rally plus change.

Porsche Classic dismantled, overhauled and then reassembled the 959’s entire powertrain – including that detuned six-cylinder 394bhp engine (detuned because of ‘low quality fuel’ available at the time). The team found most of the parts “showed little or no damage”. Of course they didn’t.

What they did find was a tonne of sand and dirt from the African desert. Because upon the car’s return from the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally, the body had never been separated from the drivetrain. “As this was not an everyday thing for us, it was fascinating,” Werner said.

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“Muddy dirt showed us today that the 959 Paris-Dakar went through rivers and had experienced water in its interior,” Werner added. Though, the team didn’t fix the corroded metal – again to preserve its status – but simply ‘conserved’ it. In fact, Porsche’s ‘gearbox expert’ Klaus Kariegus is ‘a fan of the African dust on the car and the authenticity it represents’.

And who better to drive the sympathetically restored, very authentic 959 Dakar? Why, the driver who drove it first, Jacky Ickx. “In the car the memories came back to me immediately as I remembered the people who made it all possible back then,” he said.

“Everyone wanted to drive the car on the road. Then Porsche decided to enter the 959 in a rally in the desert. It’s fantastic that I get to be a part of this story.”

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