Porsche 959 Paris – Dakar

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Occassionally, with some smugness, you think you know everything about a preferred iconic item or product. Well, at the Grand Prix at Silverstone I was talking to a colleague who reminded me of the Porsche 959 that was made race ready for the 1980’s infamous Paris-Dakar Rally.

As we age there may come a point where crawling into and, more appropriately, out of a low slung sports car becomes a regrettable chore. Such is this case. A passionate 911 owner with a distinguished military history that has left his body a bit battered found his beloved 911 just too low and therefor unmanageable for daily use. However, the 959 with its revised and heightened suspension – the height of today’s SUVs – built for the inhospitable terrain not of the “Autoroute du Soleil” – the A6 South of Paris – but more for the sands of the Sahara, is perhaps the perfect compromise. Some height but still a 911. No, in this case a Cayenne will simply not fill the gap.

The Porsche 959, the brainchild of Porsche’s Chief Engineer in 1981, Helmuth Bott, was manufactured between 1986 and 1993. Initially as a Group B rally car – featuring all wheel drive that later became standard on all Porsche’s turbocharged versions, aluminum and Kevlar – it became the fastest street legal production car with a top speed depending on variant of between 197 and 211 mph.

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The 959 was unveiled at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show and produced at Porsche’s Baur custom facility and not at their usual Zuffenhausen plant. The road version was shown at the same show in 1985 with first deliveries in 1987 at a cost of $225,000 – which is said to be less than half the actual build cost. 345 cars in total were produced including eight produced from spare parts at Zuffenhausen between 1992/3.

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In 1984, in response to encouragement from the Belgian Formula 1 ace, Jackie Icks and and in compliance with the FIA Rules, requiring that Group B rally cars needed to be based on a production car that had been produced in more than 200 examples, a total of six – only five surviving – 911s were modified to 959 specifications. Three were used in the grueling 1985, 8,700 mile, Paris Dakar Rally – driven by Rene Metge and Dominque Lemoyne – with limited success. A 1986 variant used at Le Mans finished first in its class.

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The Paris-Dakar (Senegal) Rally – now called “The Dakar” – ran between 1979 to 2007 and in 2009 it moved to South America. It continues to be open to cars, quads, truck and motor bikes.

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The 959 is a key link to later versions of the turbocharged 911s and one of these Porsche legends can be seen in the Porsche Museum.

If you’d like to own one of the rarest and most desirable Porsche’s ever built then you have a shot. In October (27th) this year RM Sotherby’s are hosting a Porsche 70th Anniversary Sale in Atlanta (Georgia). The centre piece of this sale is a Porsche 959 Group B Rally car decked out in its Rothman’s livery. Predictions suggest that the sales price for this once in a lifetime opportunity will be between $3m and $3.4m

If for some inexplicable reason you feel that the currently available 959 is a tad out of your price range, I have an essential man/woman cave scaled-down addition – please click the following Amazon link below the image.

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Dickie-Schuco 413310006 – True 185 1986 1: 18 Scale Porsche 959/50 Dakar Rally Raid, Resin, White/Blue/Red Hmans Motif

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Images – with grateful thnaks – courtesy of Robin Adams and RM Sotheby’s

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

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I am giving serious thought to the expression “Favourite Car” in response to an enquirers question to name mine. Now, I thought I had a long-term and completely harmonious fictional relationship with a 1965 Porsche 911 Targa. See here our previous past Porsche 911 Targa 

No question my pulse quicken and my throat dries a little at the thought of those classic lines, that ticking engine and those long lazy sunny days mastering the hairpins down to La Corniche. Then, as if to upset the harmony of a steady relationship, a perfectly formed little nose nudges you and with winking classic headlights clears its throat and ask you if, perhaps with a little hesitation and possibly some disappointment, whether you have forgotten them.

They remind you of the mid-1970’s classic car magazine collection “On Four Wheels” – which to the best of my recollection ran for about three years and with each edition – after the usual “magazine-crack” two for one introductory offer – became increasingly more expensive. They remind you of this endless summer days with your childhood pal, Mike, when you’d visit car showrooms, argue about the merits of Italian cars versus German or French ones and write to “concessionaires” asking for brochures often to be inundated with coffee table sized promo materials featuring sleek new sleek Lamborghinis and Maseratis. Mike still has his collection of brochures stored in a garage – Ebay anyone?

One such car is Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia – especially the Cabriolet version. My Godmother has a hard topped version in grey and she was quite cool so that was how this pretty car became locked in my evolving psyche from the mid-sixties.

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The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – based on the classic and mechanics of a first model Beetle – see our celebration of this amazing car here Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined –  was debuted as a design concept at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. Following launch, it was available in 2+2 coupe versions (from 1955 to 1974) and as a cabriolet (from 1957 to 1974).

The Karmann Ghia was a collaboration that featured the styling genius of Luigi Segre, of the legendary Turin based coach-builder, Carrozzeria Ghia (now owned by Ford), and the hand-shapes panelling  of German coach-builder Karmann – who VW had commissioned to develop the car. A massive success with over 445,000 cars built, the Karmann Ghia was extensively exported, particularly to the US market.

The VW Karmann Ghia Cabriolet was first introduced August 1957.

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The Cabriolet has, along with many cars in the VW range, been featured in a series of classic Doyle Dane and Bernbach (DDB) print media adverts in the 1950s and 60’s; so much so that DDB’s work with Volkswagen, who they have represented since 1959 (opening an office in Germany in 1961) was voted the No. 1 campaign of all time by Advertising Age’s 1999 “The Century of Advertising”.

A classic DD&B poster from the early 1960’s:

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In the early 1970’s, in response to increasing vehicle safety requirements, particularly in the US, the smooth chrome wrap-around bumpers were replaced with energy absorbing bumpers. By the mid 1970’s the model was phased out to be replaced, initially, by the Porsche 914 – never a particular favourite.

STOP PRESS: In the Gooding and Company Scottsdale Auction in January 2018 a 1963 hard topped version of the Karmann Ghia achieve a respectable $37,400 which whilst is not cheap does suggest that this fine German brand is an everyman collectible – see this lovely example and read here the Gooding and Company report Gooding and Company Karmann Ghia

Seen and loved the car – now get the T shirt – please click the AMAZON link under the image 

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VOLKSWAGEN KARMANN GHIA 1970 STENCIL MENS T SHIRT CLASSIC CAR (XXL(50-52), RED)

Read more about the history – here.

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Volkswagen Karmann Ghias and Cabriolets: 1949-1980

Essential mantelpiece material – a die cast model to keep those juices flowing!

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Minichamps 155054031 1:18 Scale “1970 VW Karmann Ghia Convertible Black” Replica Model Toy

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Karmann Ghia Type 14 Logo T-Shirt Oldtimer Car Cars Collector Driver Ralley Osnabrück Coupé Cabriolet 17156 – Grey – XX-Large

If you are lucky enough to find a Karmann Gaia in reasonable condition – and at a reasonable price – grab it! If successful you’ll need the iconic Haynes Manual to tell you just what to do to keep your beautiful car in fab condition.

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VW Beetle and Karmann Ghia (1954-79) Automotive Repair Manual (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)

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Images by West Coast Classics, Doyle Dane and Bernbach, Ara Howrani/Howrani Studios and Gooding and Company with grateful thanks

Porsche 911 Targa

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The Porsche Targa has the distinct characteristic of being is a semi-convertible car body style with a removable roof section and a full width roll bar behind the seats. The term was first used on the 1966 with the launch of the classic Porsche 911 Targa and the name, “Targa”, remains a registered trademark of Porsche AG.

The Porsche 911 coupe first debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963. Designed by Ferry Porsche, the son of the Porsche founder and his cousin, Ferdinand Piech, who developed the air-cooled flat-six engine. Launched as the 901, an objection from Peugeot who claimed naming rights to any three digit configuration with a zero in the middle resulted in Porsche renaming their new car the “911”.

Ferry on the launch of the Targa in 1965 described the car thus – “The Targa is neither a coupe nor a convertible”.

It is said that Porsche got the name, “Targa”, from the Targa Florino, a famous Sicilian road race. In Italian and Castellano, the word “Targa” means “number-plate”.

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The Targa style roof opening became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting from fears that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) may ban convertibles because of safety concerns for the occupants should a car overturn.

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Over the years Porsche designs have varied. In 1996 the Porsche 993 Targa featured a retractable glass roof a design that continued into the 996 and 997 models. The glass roof retracted underneath the rear window revealing a large sky-facing opening. For me, in the earlier models of this style this gives the windscreen an almost too high pitch that affects the overall aesthetics of the car.

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The car received criticism as it was descriebed as a “coupe with a gigantic sun roof” – simply not what Porsche had intended and perhaps too far away from the core of this iconic car?

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With the introduction and production of more recent 911 Targa, including the Type 991, Porsche decided to take the latest Targa in a different direction from that of the previous water-cooled Type 996/997 cars.

Is 2014 car has somewhat returned to its earliest Targa roots by the utilizing of a solid roof panel spanning over the front seats which was mechanized for automated lift-away and storage under the rear glass roof, which itself is mechanized to lift up and out of the way as the roof panel is placed into its stowed position.

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Porsche seem to have decided that life should imitate art having produced a Targa that seems to take some design cues from a rather sophisticated toy from the late 1970’s. When I worked in the Christmas Holidays between University terms, I got myself a job at the now defunct Army & Navy Stores – a department store in Guilford (Surrey UK) in their Toy Department. I worked for a company called Bandai who were the licensees in the UK of the Transformer toy series. Those of you with either long memories or younger kids will know that Transformers were an amazing toy that “transformed” from a car to a Robot – for example – and subsequently has become a very successful film franchise. The range of car Transformers that I was selling – and I did hugely well outselling all other assistants – included a Porsche 911 in grey that transformed into a robot with green eyes. I still have one.

In August 2016 – the 50th Anniversary of its first Targa – Porsche announced an “Etna” blue Porsche Exclusive of the 911 Targa 4S Exclusive Design Edition – a collector’s edition!

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The 2018 version is here – quite possibly one of the most beautiful modern era Porsche Targas made.

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STOP PRESS

Our friends from Class Driver have recently posted the most remarkable film made by the Porsche Club of America about a secretive collection of over 65 Porsche cars dating from the late 1950’s to date each car being not only in pristine condition but all are uniquely painted white.

Enjoy the film here White Porsche Collection 

I defy any Porsche fan can control their passion for these fantastic vehicles – even a beautiful die-cast model should satiate some of the “must have one” moment. I have found the perfect two die-cast models – please click the Amazon link below the image in each case:

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Schuco 450035400 1:18 Scale Porsche 911 S Targa – 1972″ Model Car

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Porsche 911 (991) Targa 4S Metallic Blue 1: 18

You will need a range of various mechanical skills to maintain your 911 – built between 1965 -1989 – but you’ll also need a Haynes Manual – please click the Amazon link below the image

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Porsche 911, 1965-89 Coupe, Targa and Cabriolet Automotive Repair Manual (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)

The role of a Porsche in our lives cannot be understated. So celebrate your passion with this colourful T shirt – please click on the Amazon link below the image

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Dressdown Box 964 T 12 Colour Grid – Mens T-Shirt – White – XL

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Image Credit – Porsche AG and the Porsche Club of America with grateful thanks.