The Porsche 959 Nissan Bought to Engineer the R32 GT-R Is Going to Auction

It's since been tuned by Canepa and makes more than 800 horsepower.
Broad Arrow Auctions

Imitation is the best form of flattery. So when Nissan purchased a Porsche 959 in the late 1980s to help develop the all-wheel drive system for the legendary R32 Skyline GT-R, Porsche should have been flattered. It wasn’t—Porsche actually tried to block Nissan from buying one. The research worked, though, as the lessons Nissan learned from the 959 helped forge one of the greatest driving all-wheel-drive cars in history. And that very 959, the exact same car that was disassembled and reassembled by Nissan engineers in Yokohama, Japan, can now be yours provided you have a spare couple million lying around.

On February 29, this 1988 Porsche 959 will get new ownership, as it will be sold to the highest bidder by Broad Arrow Auctions at the Amelia Island auction. However, this specific Porsche 959 isn’t exactly as it was back in 1988 when Nissan was studying it. More recently, it’s been restored, modified, and heavily but tastefully upgraded by Canepa. And while it still looks like a 959 and has much of the original car’s spirit, it’s far more powerful and more capable. It’s the ultimate expression of what a 959 can be.

According to Canepa, nothing on its 959 restorations goes untouched. Every nut and bold is said to be taken out, checked, and either coated or modified to be lighter or stronger. Each body panel is stripped, sanded, primed, and painted, so the supercar now wears a historic Porsche Oak Green paint with a tobacco brown interior. It isn’t the same color scheme as it was in 1988, but it looks incredible.

However, it’s the engine that’s been modified the most. The original 2.8-liter twin-turbo flat-six made 444 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque out of the factory. After the Canepa treatment—titanium connecting rods, upgraded cams, tungsten ceramic-coated headers, an upgraded valvetrain, new Borg Warner turbos, and Motec engine management—the ’80s twin-turbo flat-six now makes over 800 hp and 650 lb-ft. Canepa claims a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 230 mph, all with a new six-speed manual transmission.

This Porsche 959 Reimagined by Canepa is one of the most fascinating Porsches I’ve seen head to auction in a long time. It’s been tuned and upgraded in ways that keep it looking stock but add so much more to the driving experience. But it also comes with an incredible story, being the car that directly informed one of the very best all-wheel-drive sports cars ever made. It’s no wonder Broad Arrow estimates a selling price between $3,250,000 and $3,750,000. But is that a fair price for what could be the coolest 959 of all time?

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