How Canepa Is Making the 959 Better Than New

The 959SC isn't just a performance upgrade—it's a complete rebuild of Porsche's 1980s supercar masterpiece

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Zach James Todd/Canepa

It's weird to think of the once ultra-futuristic Porsche 959 as a used car, but at 30 years old, it's starting to suffer from the wear and tear you expect from something this age. This isn't a problem for Bruce Canepa, the California racer and exotic-car dealer who's who's a true expert on the 959. He's turned the 959's age into an opportunity.

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Zach James Todd/Canepa

Enter the Porsche 959SC (Sport Canepa), an incredibly comprehensive restoration of this remarkable car, which Canepa convincingly argues makes it better than new. His company of the same name will make you a 959SC for $750,000, the cost of the car.

That's a ton of money to spend on a car that to begin with, but Canepa is putting a lot of into them.

"This represents 4000- hours of labor, and then parts and materials on top of that," Canepa told me over the phone. "At this point, we're taking every component apart and disassembling it, and making sure it's like new."

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Zach James Todd/Canepa
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Zach James Todd/Canepa
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The car is stripped down to a bare tub and repainted in the color of the owner's choosing, every metal part gets new zinc plating, and the interior is completely re-trimmed in new leather.

Oh, and there are performance upgrades.Each car gets Canepa's Generation III performance upgrade, which boosts the 959's 2.85-liter flat-six from 450 hp to 763. The suspension is heavily revised too, based on the dual-coilover setup of the rare 959 Sport, but with modern dampers and titanium springs. Canepa is even having the original supplier make new 18-inch magnesium wheels so modern Michelin performance tires can be used.

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Zach James Todd/Canepa
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Canepa even goes to the length to fit a new wiring harness, and a modern engine-control unit that allows for more precise management of turbo boost. There are no half-measures taken with the 959SC.

"No offense to anyone, but it's actually better than new," Canepa said. "When a car is restored, you're not throwing it together to sell it and try to make a profit. You're sitting there addressing every single piece."

And if you're worried about the effects of adding over 300 horsepower to a 30-year old car, don't be. Canepa told me that the 959 was originally intended for Group B racing, and Porsche built the car to handle up to 825 horsepower. Its engine was derived from the same turbocharged flat-sixes that powered the 935, 936, 956, and 962 race cars, and it can make big power easily. Canepa upgrades a lot of engine internals for the SC, but as for the rest of the driveline, only the clutch needs beefing up. From the factory, the 959 was a stout car.

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Zach James Todd/Canepa

So knowing all this, is $750,000 worth it? For the 10 customers who have already committed to buying one of the 50 cars Canepa plans on building, it clearly is. And if you think it's worth it, you can supply a 959 of your own, or Canepa will source one himself. He's already bought four or five for SC customers.

The 959 SC is inarguably a lot of money, but it's arguably the ultimate 959. Canepa takes a car that was already incredible from new, and runs wild with it.

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