The annual Forbes 400 was released Sept. 16, offering to the world a list of America’s most wealthiest individuals. This year’s list has a combined wealth of $2 trillion, an increase from last year’s $1.7 trillion and the highest combined wealth in the history of the list. Sitting at the top, Bill Gates has yet again been crowned America’s wealthiest with a net worth of $72 billion. Gates, the 57-year-old behind Microsoft, has a long history of wealth, charity and, surprisingly, Porsches.
Gates first purchased a Porsche 911 Turbo in 1979 and rumor has it that he was pulled over quite a few times in the blue sports car. This 911 has since been auctioned off for $80,000. However, we aren’t here to talk about a 911, but instead a car that proved Porsche was capable of much more than an air-cooled 911: the 959. And it was this car that Gates fought for for years.
The Porsche 959 was the most impressive car to come out of the German automaker’s doors, and quite possibly the greatest car of the 80’s. This twin-turbo supercar came equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, instead of the normal 5-speed. It was capable of completing a 0 to 60 run in just 3 seconds and hit upwards of 195 mph for its top speed. These are incredible numbers, not only for a car released in 1986, but also for cars released nowadays. It’s no wonder Gates had such an affinity for this car.
While most Porsches can import quite easily from Europe to the USA, the 959 had complications abound, making it impossible for US citizens to get their hands on one of these supercars. One of the citizens was Gates, who ordered a 959 from Porsche, only to have it impounded at customs. The reasoning provided to justify the impounding was that the 959 had not yet cleared crash-testing requirements and did not meet EPA standards. Gates’ German supercar sat idly by for over a decade.
With Gates anxious to get his hands on his Porsche 959, he worked together with others to get the “Show and Display” law passed. This law would allow privately imported vehicles to be exempt from the Federal Motor Safety Standards (FMVSS) if the car met a standard of “historical or technological significance.” Another way for cars to be exempt from the FMVSS is if the model in question had less than 500 models produced. This was good news for Gates, as the Porsche 959 was only produced 337 times.
The passing of the “Show and Display” law allowed Gates to get his hands on his 959 and experience true Porsche power. He can even be seen today driving his car around occasionally, making sure he does not reach the annual mileage limitation of 2,500 on-road miles that came with the passing of the “Show and Display” law.
(Featured image source: BornRich.com)