Back in 1986 Porsche driver Jacky Ickx and co-driver Claude Brasseur took this 959 from France to West Africa to finish second overall in the Paris-Dakar rally, completing a Porsche 1-2 victory behind teammates Rene Metge and Dominique Lemoyne. With the re-introduction of a gelande-ready Porsche 911, the new 992-generation Dakar, Porsche is more than ready to celebrate its dirty history. Over the past few months the Porsche Heritage team, the Porsche Museum team, and Porsche Classic have all combined their many talents to give the car a thorough recommissioning. A sympathetic restoration, if you will. Lucky for us, the team documented the whole process and will be releasing the mini-documentary in pieces on the Porsche YouTube channel.
The winning car has been preserved as if in a time capsule, still wearing a coating of dirt from the African deserts. With that one preserved, the team felt it was appropriate to give the second placed car some help to look its best. The idea was to keep the car’s original condition while eliminating technical flaws, replacing as few components as possible to make it ready for another 18,000 kilometer jaunt across Europe and Africa. The car had its engine and gearbox completely stripped and rebuilt so it could be mechanically ready for whatever the world might throw at it. During the deconstruction of the car’s bodywork, the restoration team found original dirt and mud wedged into parts of the chassis that couldn’t be seen.
Signs of wear and tear were maintained within the car, like scratches where the kevlar bodywork rubbed against the metal chassis in due course. “Only by keeping the damage from back then can we tell the story authentically and preserve it,” Kuno Werner, Head of the Museum Workshop, concluded.
For the car’s reveal, Porsche invited Ickx back for a reunion with his old car, giving him an opportunity to rip the freshened car around for a while in the dirt and snow of a retired quarry. “In the car the memories came back to me immediately as I remembered the people who made it all possible back then,” Ickx says. “It’s fantastic that I get to be a part of this story.” Along for the ride was Porsche ambassador, rallyist, and Le Mans winner Timo Bernhard.
It’s hard to think of any other automobile manufacturer that finds so much inspiration and passion from and for its own history. Porsche is built on decades of incredible sports car and racing successes, and the people there today understand that fully. It’s evident in every car they build.