If you’ve been to East Hampton in New York lately, you may have seen host of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld, cruising down the road in one of his many classic and rare vehicles. His collection ranges from antique to modern, but is heavily skewed towards Porsche. His grand fleet of vehicles sits in a subterranean garage in Manhattan.
Enthusiasts already know that the 64 year-old actor and comedian owns one of the most valuable car collections in the states, but for this review, we chose to take a closer look at his 1986 Porsche 959 – a vehicle renowned by many in the Porsche community and one of the top sports cars of the ‘80s, an iconic symbol of its time.
What makes this vehicle especially rare is the fact that it’s one of just 337 ever built – only 200 of which were deemed street legal.
With a top speed of 197 mph, this Porsche can really move. And if you were lucky enough to pick up the 959 S in the “Sport” version, you’d be pushing 211 mph. In fact, during its initial debut in 1986, it was considered the fastest street legal vehicle on the road. This was made possible partly by using parts in the manufacturing process favoring a lighter construction than aluminum and other special materials.
In the front, the vehicle sports those iconic and recognizable sleek and sloped Porsche headlights. Its rear however, is slightly elongated and has a unique, slim looking spoiler akin to what you might see on early model Ferraris. Along its side, you’ll find an extremely pronounced side skirt sitting between large, aggressive intake vents common among many supercars of its time. At any corner angle, you can see just how bold the wheel wells are which give the vehicle’s appearance some muscle. Its dual exhaust is placed subtly in a sharply concave lower back side. Compared to other models by Porsche, this one definitely stands out and it’s easy to see why it’s the envy of so many collectors.
Fans of the ever-popular Porsche 911 will see stark similarities when sitting inside the vehicle, as much of its major components, from the seats to steering wheel, are largely reminiscent of its sister vehicles by the manufacturer.
Considering its small chassis, you might be surprised to learn the vehicle was equipped with all-wheel drive – setting the trend for later models produced by Porsche. The small body, however, means that Jerry might be hard pressed to cram in Kramer and the gang, unfortunately.
Oddly enough, you may also be surprised to learn that this special car has a ‘G’ gear. What’s a ‘G’ gear you ask? It’s got a special purpose as the lowest gear to help drivers get through mud or other difficult terrain. According to Autotrader, it stands for “Gelande” in German, which translates to “terrain.” Very fitting considering that one of the vehicle’s original purposes was for operating off the beaten path in rally car settings. From its looks, you wouldn’t expect this vehicle to function on rough terrain but its AWD transmission made it a formidable rally car in its day. Its ability to transfer torque between the front and rear wheels, depending on road or terrain conditions, undoubtedly allowed it to be competitive against similar rally vehicles produced by Ford and Audi. Gauges in the vehicle’s interior help drivers understand the power distribution to the front axle as well as rear differential slip.
With smooth shifting and acceleration, this ride is said to be relatively easy to drive. From the exterior, you’ll see a sleek and elegant vehicle sure to turn heads. Once inside, you’ll undoubtedly feel the raw power that moves this car from 0-60 mph in an astonishing 3.6 seconds. If you decide to keep rolling, you’ll hit 100 mph in 8.8 seconds, and if you’re really feeling ambitious, you’ll only need 12.4 seconds to reach 120 mph.
The vehicle also features run-flat tires and one of the earliest applications tire pressure monitors. And at the push of a button, drivers can raise the car height by as much as 2-inches.
We probably won’t see Jerry taking her on the track any time soon, as she’s currently valued at close to a million dollars – sorry George, I don’t think you’ll be taking this one for a spin no matter how good the parking spot is. Although not known for sure, it’s believed that Jerry picked his white 959 up at a whopping cost of $700,000. But if he had made the purchase during its initial launch to the market as an early adopter, he would have paid closer to $225,000 – still no small sum of money back in the ’80s.
Among the higher valued 959s on the market today are those later manufactured by Porsche in 1992-1993 from spare parts remaining from the original production. These were enhanced with a speed sensitive damper system.
Before Jerry got his hands on this beauty, billionaire Bill Gates imported the vehicle to the states only to have it impounded by customs for 13 years. Gates’ long lasting commitment to the vehicle ultimately paid off as he was eventually able to retrieve it through legal exemptions he helped produce. The “Show or Display” rule was placed into law in 2001 allowing certain vehicles to be exempt from certain U.S. regulations requiring that a number of vehicles be provided by the manufacturer for crash and safety testing. The rule was meant to target high valued imports and those produced in very limited quantities. The exemption however does not mean a vehicle can necessarily operate on public roads.
This Porsche 959 is likely to hold its value well, especially considering its unique, aggressive stance and road presence. Amazingly, a vehicle first manufactured over three decades ago still bears the majority of its iconic body style in what will undoubtedly continue in the years to come.