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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hot Wheels Porsche 959

Among the posters placed across the walls of boy's rooms in the 1980's and 1990's one might find either a Ferrari F40, Dodge Viper RT/10, Lamborghini Countach, or a Porsche 959.  The 959 was a technical tour-de-force for the Porsche brand as they mitigated every technology into a 911, paired with with twin turbo's and all wheel drive, and limiting sales to other countries except the U.S. (now changed thanks to the 25 years or older import exempt that allows cars from other countries to be imported to the U.S. given the age range).  The 959 has always been in diecast brands for many years, and that includes this Hot Wheels version now revived for the Porsche series and for the first time with a plastic base.

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Produced from 1986 to 1989 the 959 was designed for Group B racing as a road version of the race car to satisfy the 200 models required by FIA rules.  While the car did not compete much in the FIA, it also ended up in the Paris-Dakar rally with a raised ride height.  The 959 uses larger fenders and scoops to accomidate the many intercoolers around the vehicle, a smoothly-integrated rear wing, flush-mounted headlights.  The interior, on the other hand, remained stock 911 aside from a few additional switch gears.  The engine out back now houses the 2.85L DOHC twin-turbo flat-six that is still air cooled and produces 444 hp. through a unique 6-speed manual that features five forward gears, reverse, and a sixth gear called G gear for off-roading.  The all-wheel drive system can actively send power to the rear wheels under hard acceleration and shift the power to the front when slippage is detected, and i'm guessing the G gear locks the differential to power all four wheels.  In addition, the tires have pressure sensors for tire pressure and the suspension automatically lowers itself at higher speeds to achieve optimal slick drag coefficient.  0-60 can happen in 3.5 seconds.  Interesting to note is Bill Gates 959 which he bought when the car was first built, but to hide it from US regulations that would deem the car illegal to use in the US Gates stored the car in the Customs Service in the Port of San Francisco.  Determined to get the car out of Customs and onto the open road Gates helped pass the "Show and Display" law in 1999 that allowed a car not certified for sale in the U.S. to come to the States without safety certifications and pre-1996 cars do not have to pass emissions test as well.

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Introduced in 1988 and still looking good today, the 959 still looks great with an all-metal construction that ends this year with the new plastic base.  The front has the detailed grille, side intercooler scoops, and headlight ridges, but the headlights appear rounded rather than flat.  One of the unique touches that still remain on this casting for years is the open NACA ducts on the rear fenders behind the front doors.  While a bit off in shape, it is correct to the real car and nicely flows with the flared fenders.  The rear has the spoiler molded with the body and detailed taillight bar.  The interior has the two-plus-two seating and dashboard layout as in the 911 and mostly is just a template as it does not feature any added dial or control details.  The base has the boding rivets with some engine detail at the rear, though the design is a bit sloppy and in effect fails to show off the quad exhaust tips.

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The variations are short of impressive as well.  The light blue is the best with 5-spoke wheels that was made for this casting.  The black with tan interior appeared in 1999 with lace wheels giving the 959 a premium look despite my example being a bit saggy at the rear.  The latest is the red with roof graphics and detailed headlights that still keep this casting fresh even if it's 27 years old.  The best version goes to the 2010 Valentine's Day Wal-Mart version in white with full front and rear details, and not just the lights the side marker lights, taillight bar with PORSCHE in the center, front and rear Euro plates, grille and intercooler scoops, and some strange small circle after the front doors (not sure what that is?).  This version essentially shows off the 959 at it's best!

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Despite the loss of the metal base the 959 casting still looks good and hopefully it will continue to look just as good in future variations.  Just as long as the graphics are to a minimum.

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