It’s 1988, and Bruce Canepa has just bought a Porsche 959. But it’s not all fireworks, burnouts, and four-wheel drifts, because the now-legendary 959 was never federalized for the United States. What to do? 11 years later, by 1999, Canepa (an already seasoned racer and now California-based resto-mod guru) had helped fellow 959ers Bill Gates and Paul Allen lobby Congress to pass the Show or Display amendment. The rule change would allow certain vehicles of historical or technological significance to be imported and driven on U.S. roads. The rub, of course, was making the vehicle emissions-legal with the performance upgrades Canepa had in mind.
Challenges, however, tend to breed innovation. Two generations later, Canepa’s own Porsche 959, first of the so-called Gen III cars he’ll build, is churning out dastardly 763 hp. But it’s not raw power that makes this 959 so wicked, as much as it is a complete holistic approach to relentlessly improving performance on every front.
Courtesy of a new parallel twin-turbo system featuring Borg-Warner turbos with integrated wastegates and titanium heat shields, an updated fuel system, ECU, exhaust system, and clutch system, the pinnacle of Canepa’s 959 tuning saga now makes 763 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque from its flat-six engine. The added power is matched with an 959 Sport-spec suspension with titanium coilovers, replacing the famed automatically adjustable suspension that came from the factory on the 959 Komfort. The Gen III also uses revised magnesium wheels, modified with a new bead design to accommodate modern high-performance tires for improved grip.
According to Canepa, the upgrades make this specially tuned 959 capable of rowdy 2.4-second sprints from 0-60 mph. The Gen I and Gen II versions made 576 hp and 640 hp, respectively, and the Gen II had a top speed of 223 mph. The folks Canepa say Gen III will clear 230 mph. In a car from 1988.
That same level of attention to detail is executed on the interior, which has been fully restored in-house. The gorgeous chestnut-colored interior incorporates all-new leather, new carpets, a hand-sewn steering wheel, and custom floor mats. Everything looks simple, tasteful, and functional.
As you might expect though, Canepa’s services don’t come cheap. Expect to pay a few hundred thousand bucks on top of the cost of your donor 959, which can run between $1 and $2 million. Check out Canepa’s website for more of his eclectic restoration and tuning projects.