Less than 300 road-going production 959 supercars were built by Porsche. Their timeless design, state-of-the-art systems and superior driving characteristics made them one of the greatest “supercars” of all time. Originally not imported or federalized for the U.S. market, Canepa was instrumental in the passing of the Show or Display law, the federal legislation that allowed these highly sought-after vehicles to be driven in the U.S. for the first time in 1999.
Bruce Canepa was fortunate enough to be one of those lucky enough to have experienced a Porsche 959 in 1987. The opportunity to finally drive the 959 on U.S. roads ten years later led Bruce to evaluate and determine what components and systems could be upgraded. Had Porsche continued the production of the 959 beyond its initial run, there is no doubt that evolution would have played a pivotal role in its future. Canepa’s first round of updates for the Porsche 959 stemmed from the necessity to develop an emission-legal variant that benefited from increased power through newer technologies. The second round of updates delivered even more performance. Now, after decades of continuous research and development, thousands of real-world miles driven and countless hours invested, Canepa has introduced the final evolution of upgrades it will create for the Porsche 959.
PORSCHE 959, “REIMAGINED”
4,000 meticulous hours are spent on every vehicle with all labor and assembly performed by experienced craftsmen, each project resulting in a vehicle that is customized to each customer’s unique requests and different from all others. Limited to 50 vehicles, each 959 upgraded by Canepa is enhanced with staggering performance, a comfortable and compliant ride with uncompromised handling, and a concours-level finish quality. It is the ultimate driving experience for the 21st century.
ENGINE + DRIVETRAIN UPGRADE
20 years ago, Canepa’s first engine upgrade yielded a U.S. emission-legal 576 horsepower and a few years later the cars were developing 640 horsepower. The latest engine system upgrade now produces a staggering 800+ horsepower and 650lb/ft of torque, this from an engine that originally developed 444 horsepower and 369lb/ft of torque. This latest Canepa engine system upgrade for the Porsche 959 has been developed through the optimization of existing parts and engineering of new parts designed by Canepa specifically for this application.
- Upgraded twin-turbo system utilizing the latest technology – BorgWarner turbos with internal wastegates and integrated diverter valves (technology designed and used in IndyCars)
- Pankl titanium connecting rods developed from an optimized engineering process
- Blueprinted and upgraded valvetrain assembly for better stability at high rpms
- New camshafts (designed to improve low-end torque and mid-range power), valves, valve springs, cam buckets, and solid lifters yielding better throttle response
- Upgraded camshaft housings, including low friction bearings- State-of-the-art engine management system and wiring harnesses utilizing Canepa proprietary firmware co-developed with MoTec
- E85/flex fuel hardware and software installed with auto fuel calibration
- Upgraded high-output alternator & lightweight gear-driven starter motor
- Custom equal-length tungsten ceramic coated headers and two stage stainless/titanium exhaust system
- Increased air volume intake runners with proprietary “Green” air filter
- Coil-on-plug ignition system, titanium heat shielding, upgraded fuel system and injectors, etc.
- Full transmission rebuild, with REM isotropic super finishing on gears and shafts
- Race-proven transmission reinforcement for differential reliability
- Upgraded clutch assembly and improved pedal feel and actuation
The result is a proven reliable package that not only produces modern supercar power levels and performance, but also is an extremely capable and exciting daily driver that is a pleasure to enjoy.
COMPREHENSIVE CONCOURS-LEVEL RESTORATION
Each Porsche 959 upgraded by Canepa is subjected to a comprehensive concours-level restoration, the same quality afforded to the world’s greatest collector cars. All mechanical components are restored, rebuilt, or upgraded, a concours-level paint finish is applied, and all new interior with numerous upgrades are included with each 959 Reimagined by Canepa.
During the rebuild process the entire chassis has every single component removed in order to inspect and refinish, rebuild, or upgrade to ensure the highest quality for each piece. All mechanical systems are evaluated by Canepa’s team of technicians with over 20+ years of experience of working with the Porsche 959. Suspension is upgraded with new components and bushings, parts replated in their correct coatings, and upgraded parts are installed. Over 3,000 individual pieces are stripped and refinished in a variety of coatings such as zinc, anodizing, powder coating, teflon, etc. Nothing is left unchecked or untouched, ensuring that every 959 that Canepa upgrades performs better than new!
PORSCHE PAINT-TO-SAMPLE EXTERIOR
Once the chassis is devoid of all parts, the 500+ hour job of prepping the body for its new paintwork begins. The body and its panels are stripped, primed, then block sanded to ensure laser straight surfaces. The auxiliary door for the hydraulic suspension oil on the driver’s side fender is deleted. Underbody, trunk, and engine bay components are cleaned to a state of perfection and prepped for a special matte coating that is the same color as the exterior, but a variation of surface finish. When finished, these underbody surfaces present in a much more appealing way than normal gloss paint. Once ready for its final paintwork, its final inspection is made before applying the special exterior paint-finish. A customer can choose a special color from Porsche’s own factory 150+ Paint-to-Sample color palette, or create a one-off custom color of their choice.
No car would be complete without a fantastic interior environment, and each 959 Canepa upgrade is no exception. With Canepa’s in-house upholstery department, over the course of 400 hours every interior is hand made through custom templates specially made for each car. The entire cabin is finished in the highest quality leathers from throughout the world. Original seat patterns and the perforated headliner are used, the leather dashboard is wrapped and sewn with deviated stitching, and exquisite wall-to-wall color-matched carpet is used. New tool pouches and the owner’s books covers are made in the same matching leather. Numerous upgrades throughout the cabin ensure an even better driving experience, including Porsche’s new Classic Radio Navigation system and an upgraded sound system, with a high resolution audio system available. The two-stage sport exhaust system is controlled from a factory switch location in the center console, allowing the driver to choose to be subtle or let the world know that an 800-horsepower street car is passing by. The entire cabin’s original incandescent lights, including those in the gauge pods, are upgraded to LEDs for better illumination. When completed, the interior of each 959 that Canepa upgrades is a unique space that matches each individual, inviting them to spend more time inside and enjoy what each car has to offer.
Towards the end of the 959-production run, Porsche built twenty-nine 959 Sport models. The 959S improved on the performance characteristics of the 959-street car, including a much simpler, lighter, and performance-oriented suspension system. The Sport model eliminated the adjustable ride height and shock dampening, along with all its related hydraulic system, lines, and pump components. The reduction of components provided a significant weight savings. In its place, Porsche installed an improved coil-over spring and shock assembly comprised of dual coil-over springs with gas shocks on each front corner, and dual gas shocks with a single coil over spring on each rear corner.
The Canepa suspension upgrade begins with the factory Porsche 959S specification, and then incorporates modern suspension technology with Penske custom valved shocks, along with titanium coil-over springs. The suspension upgrades include:
- All corners are restored and rebuilt with new parts as needed
- Wheel hubs are disassembled, restored and rebuilt
- Custom-valved Penske shocks with titanium coil-over springs
- All clips, clamps, bearings, and boots are replaced
- Newly developed cryo-treated semi-floating brake rotors with upgraded brake pads
- These upgrades in addition to other component changes grant each 959:
- Smoother ride quality on all types of road surfaces
- Lighter components, including elimination of the entire hydraulic system- 1” lower ride height (standard to the Porsche 959S) while providing ample ground clearance for real world driving.
With these suspension upgrades, the 959 now provides uncompromised handling and the ride quality of modern luxury driving automobiles.
18” WHEEL AND TIRE UPGRADE
When the 959 was originally designed by Porsche and the Gruppe B concept car was built, the prototype featured 18” wheels. Unfortunately, 18” radial racing tire technology hadn’t crossed over to the street as quickly as the designers had originally hoped. Due to the lack of an 18” street tire by the start of production, only 17” high performance tires could be supplied to production 959s when they were ready for delivery.
Canepa was quite familiar with the original wheel design, being the only company to devise a modification to allow the fitment of Michelin tires in the early 2000s. In 2018, Canepa consulted with Michelin in order to determine what tires they were going to produce, leading Canepa to design and produce a new 18” wheel for the 959 utilizing the newest tire technology. Designed to retain the spirit and timeless look of Porsche’s original wheel, this wheel and tire upgrade is standard to all 959 vehicles Canepa upgrades and will be available to all 959 owners to allow their cars to benefit from the latest tire technology. This allows for wider front and rear tires, increasing the vehicle’s footprint and stance, substantially improving the grip, comfort, and overall style of the 959.
CANEPA HEADLIGHT UPGRADE
While upgrading other major components, Canepa developed an upgrade that brings the 959’s illumination capabilities up to the standards of modern cars. This is achieved using the original housing to preserve the original appearance on the exterior while utilizing the latest in headlight technology. Forward visibility is dramatically improved with more powerful and reliable components.