Porsche 959-inspired off-road supercar review

Legendary tuning firm Ruf and Marc Philipp Gemballa, son of the late Uwe Gemballa who ran the tuning firm Gemballa, are jointly developing a heavily upgraded version of the Porsche 911 to pay tribute to the Group B Porsche 959 that won the 1984 Dakar Rally.

• Project Sandbox to draw inspiration from the Group B Porsche 959 rally car
• Model to come with off-road suspension, all terrain tyres and will sit higher
• Flat-six engine to develop over 750hp
• All 10 examples already sold out

Marc Philipp Gemballa isn’t associated with the successful Gemballa tuning firm that was run by his father Uwe until his death in 2010. However, this new partnership is reminiscent of the 1980s, when Uwe used Ruf-developed engines for his Porsche-based creations.

Project Sandbox: what is it?
Due to be unveiled in the coming months, the ultra-exclusive special model – codenamed Project Sandbox – will take styling inspiration from the jacked-up off-road racer, with the car described as an “off-road-capable sportscar.” A preview image suggests that it will sit higher than the standard 911, ride on KW off-road shocks and chunky Michelin all-terrain tyres, and wear a contrasting protective body kit. The rear, in particular, looks to have been substantially restyled, with a large, curved spoiler paying tribute to the distinctive rear wing that marked out the 959 from the 911, repositioned exhaust exits for the bespoke Akrapovic pipework and a sizeable diffuser.

Project Sandbox : engine and performance
The Ruf-fettled flat-six engine is expected to pack more than 750hp and up to 930Nm of torque, and it is promised to be Euro-6-compliant, despite the substantial hike in power and torque. Performance figures are unconfirmed, but a near-3.0sec 0-100kph sprint time is to be expected, while top speed is likely to nudge past 322kph. Ruf will also offer the upgrade package, technical details of which have yet to be confirmed, for the standard 911 Turbo and 911 Turbo S.

Project Sandbox: availability
All 10 examples of the Project Sandbox launch edition are already sold out, but 30 ‘standard’ cars from the initial production run – which is due to begin later this year – remain available. Prices have yet to be confirmed but will be significantly higher for the standard 911. Marc Phillip Gemballa is said to see an opportunity in the creation of “special design lead vehicles in a small production series,” suggesting further projects in a similar vein will follow. Interestingly, Porsche too seems to be working on an in-house high-riding 911 inspired by its rally cars. The same was seen in images of a test mule last year, which essentially showed a jacked-up 911.