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The 959's pressurized magnesium wheel

For the suspension, Manfred Bantle went for a system straight from racing: the 959 has unequal-length double superimposed arms (for maximum roadholding even at the limit of body roll), with two coupled telescopic dampers per wheel, and progressive coil springs. The suspensions have a special system of commands which alter the car's height from the ground. The "normal" height, at which the 959 can drive on tarmac at any speed without any contact problems, is 120 mm; a hydropneumatic command, worked from the dashboard, will raise the height to 150 mm or 180 mm, where the road conditions make this necessary (snow, mud etc.). If the 959 exceeds 80 kph when travelling at 180 mm the on- board computer reads the car's speed through its sensors and readjusts the car's height from the ground to 150 mm. At speeds of over 160 kph the car is lowered to 120 mm. The driver can also choose between three hardness positions for the shock absorbers, soft, medium, and hard, one position for each main type of driving.

This is the motivation for the double dampers on each wheel: one is to regulate the height, and act as a constant shock absorber, the other is for variable damping. For this reason the hardness of the suspensions is also electronically controlled by the computer; at speeds in excess of 160 kph the car is lowered to 120 mm and the suspensions are simultaneously moved into the rigid position.

The 959's brakes have been developed taking into the account the high degree of efficiency that will be required of them given the performance of such a car. The 959 has four ventilated and drilled discs (first tested on the legendary 917), 322 mm diameter on the front and 304 mm on the rear, with aluminium 4-piston calipers. To cut down panic reactions from the driver, these excellent components are fitted with the latest generation of ABS, which exploits the same sensors that the traction computer uses to read the wheel movement, and regulates the pressure on them, preventing them from blocking under any circumstances. High speed microprocessors were required, as the efficiency and usefulness of such a system are inversely proportional to the time lapse, however small.

The wheels were also a notable innovation: in order to keep the tyre pressure as constant as possible, essential for their correct working, a revolutionary rim/rubber complex was designed. At first Dunlop Denloes were selected, developed by Dunlop with the intention of producing a tyre closely derived from competition rubber, which even in the event of stripping would not explode or suddenly deflate, with the well-known dramatic consequences for car control (especially at high speeds). These tyres can also be used over long distances even with a puncture (run flat capability), particularly suitable for competition driving. In the definitive road version they were replaced by similar Bridgestones, 235/45 VR 17 8 in. rims in front and 255/45 (275/45 on request) VR 17 10 in. rims in the rear. The 959 alloy rims, with five spokes and a central locking nut, have a tyre pressure monitoring system incorporated. This is based on the hollow spokes which form a single chamber with the tyre itself. At the hub a sensor reads the pressure in the chamber and transmits it to the on-board computer, which cuts in an alarm below a certain pressure.



Horizontally opposed 6 cylinder, 24-valve DOHC aluminum block and water-cooled heads
Bore and stroke: 3.74" x 2.64"
Displacement:174 or 2849cc
Max boost pressure: 14.0 psi
Horsepower: 450@6,500 rpm
Power to weight ratio: 6.6 lbs per horsepower
Compression ratio: 8.3:1
Cd: .31
Fuel system: Bosch Motronic
Induction: Twin sequential turbocharging


6 speed electronically controlled 4wd with 4 settings


Electronically adjustable independent f/r with upper and lower A arms, hydraulic shocks, anti-roll bar/coil.


Kevlar and aluminum


Curb weight: 2,917 lbs
Wheelbase: 89.4"
Length: 167.7"
Width: 72.4"
Height: 47.2"

Brakes and Wheels:

ABS, power assisted, vented, cross drilled disks
17x8.0" front,17x9.0" rear cast magnesium wheels with pressure sensors to detect hairline cracks

Fuel Economy:

13 mpg


0-60mph: 3.6 seconds (US version: 3.5s)
0-100: 8.3
0-125: 12.7
0-140: 19.0
0-1/4 mile: 11.8s @119 mph
Top Speed: 198++ mph

Raw view of the suspension and braking systems