Far from being unique, the history of the automobile is in fact a multitude of tales that unite enthusiasts and exceptional vehicles! To showcase these extraordinary stories, Rétromobile is bringing you "Un véhicule, Une histoire", a video series that gives a voice to enthusiasts from all walks of life. In this episode: the legendary Porsche 959 driven by René Metge that won the 1986 Paris Dakar.

René Metge’s Porsche 959 

The fruit of a mad gamble by René Metge and the German manufacturer, the Porsche 959 has inspired several generations of enthusiasts. But above and beyond its legendary status, it is above all an exceptional vehicle that united a family around the notion of passion and transmission.

From the family's first test drives in 1984 to the reunion on the occasion of René's 80th birthday in 2021, the Porsche 959 can in many ways claim to be part of the Metge clan. In 2024, the vehicle was once again on public display at the 48th edition of Rétromobile, in a unique exhibition dedicated to the Dakar Rally.

René Metge and Porsche: the coming together of two legends.

A seasoned racer and one of the first participants in the Dakar Rally, René Metge is one of those personalities who made a lasting mark on the history of the sport.

The winner of the Dakar Rally in 1981 driving for Range Rover, the man nicknamed 'The Malakoff Cowboy' decided to retire after competing in the 4th edition of the rally. It was a short-lived withdrawal, however, as in 1984, on the advice of a certain Jacky Ickx, he joined the Porsche team alongside Dominique Lemoyne, a mechanic and long-time friend. Together, they lined up at the start of the Paris-Dakar Rally in a Porsche 911 type 953. Specially prepared by Jacky Ickx, the vehicle took the traditional 3.2-litre flat-six engine (already fitted to several models from the Stuttgart firm) and added new features specially designed to cope with the rugged African conditions: 4-wheel drive, increased ground clearance, reinforced structure, etc. On 20 January 1984, the team won the Dakar, making René Metge the first two-time winner of the competition and the Porsche 911 the first sports car to win the discipline.

Rene Metge's Porsche 959 at the 2024 edition of RétromobileRené Metge's Porsche 959 on display at Rétromobile 2024 

Porsche 959, or when the queen of the desert makes her appearance


The story could have ended there, but that was without counting on the spirit of adventure and competition that fuelled the Metge-Lemoyne partnership. Just a few weeks after his victory, René Metge was back on the racetrack to oversee the design of what he hoped would become the 911's worthy successor: the Porsche 959. Directly inspired by the most famous of sports cars, this new model was not as successful as had been hoped: of the 3 cars entered by the German team in 1985, none reached the finish line, owing to a number of technical incidents throughout the race. Undeterred, and much better prepared, the team tried its luck again in 1986. For the occasion, the Porsche 959s were vastly improved, featuring a water-cooled, twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine developing almost 380 bhp, an all-wheel drive system with a differential capable of distributing 100% of the torque between the front and rear wheels, aluminium bodywork and composite materials...

These innovations were dearly needed to cope with this edition's 13,600 kilometres, which were marked by numerous accidents and retirements: at the halfway stage, only 184 of the 484 competitors were still in the running! Neck and neck with the Lada and Rover teams, the German sports car and its driver gradually moved up the rankings. During the stage from Agadez to Dirkou, the vehicle reached a top speed of almost 245km/h and flew through the 645km course at an average speed of almost 145km/h. On 22 January, at the end of a 20-day tour overshadowed by the death of Thierry Sabine, the adventure drew to a close. The Metge-Lemoyne duo won the competition, closely followed by the Ickx-Brasseur duo. On 3 January 2024, 38 years after his last victory, René Metge passed away. Whether a coincidence or a twist of fate, two crews set off the next day for the start of the 4th edition of the Dakar Classic aboard replica Porsche 959s.