Status Symbols are devices that transcend their specs and features, and become something beautiful and luxurious in their own right. They're things that live on after the megapixel and megahertz wars move past them, beacons of timeless design and innovation.

Run-flat tires equipped with a pressure monitoring system. All-wheel drive. Adjustable, electronically-controlled ride height. A top speed brushing up against the magical 200 mph mark. These thoroughly modern specifications could easily describe an exotic car from the world’s most exclusive automakers that you might buy today, if were you lucky enough to have a few hundred thousand dollars to spare — but this isn’t today. It’s 1986, and the car is the Porsche 959.

First shown off as a concept car in 1983, Porsche ended up making the 959 as a so-called homologation special, effectively a race car that had been modified just enough to become street-legal. It was a way for Porsche to prove to the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (better known by its acronym, FIA) that it was putting a real car on the course — not a purpose-suited race car unavailable to regular customers. Production homologation was mandatory to participate in FIA’s hardcore Group B rally category, one of the most dangerous and captivating racing series of the modern automotive era. (By contrast, it isn’t a requirement in FIA’s best-known brand, Formula 1.)

Production homologation is a quirky rule in a handful of racing series around the world that has produced some of the most exceptional road-going cars the world has ever known. Over the years, homologation specials like BMW’s M3 GTR, Mercedes-Benz’s CLK GTR, and Porsche’s own 911 GT1 Straßenversion (literally “street version”) have developed a reputation for being both exceptionally rare and exceptionally expensive. In the 959’s case, it was also simply exceptional.