1974 Porsche 914

1974 Porsche 914

The Porsche 914 is a mid-engined sports car that was built and sold collaboratively by Volkswagen and Porsche from 1969 to 1976.

By the late 1960s, both Volkswagen and Porsche were in need of new models; Porsche was looking for a replacement for their entry-level 912, and Volkswagen wanted a new range-topping sports coupe to replace the Karmann Ghia. At the time, the majority of Volkswagen’s developmental work was handled by Porsche, part of a setup that dated back to Porsche’s founding; Volkswagen needed to contract out one last project to Porsche to fulfill the contract, and decided to make this that project. Ferdinand Piëch, who was in charge of research and development at Porsche, was put in charge of the 914 project.
Porsche 914 and the car it replaced at the top of VW’s line, the Type 34 Karmann Ghia

Originally intending to sell the vehicle with a flat four-cylinder engine as a Volkswagen and with a flat six-cylinder engine as a Porsche, Porsche decided during development that having Volkswagen and Porsche models sharing the same body would be risky for business in the American market, and convinced Volkswagen to allow them to sell both versions as Porsches in North America.

It appeared to be a perfect win-win situation. On March 1, 1968, the first 914 prototype was presented. However, development became complicated after the death of Volkswagen’s chairman, Heinz Nordhoff, on April 12, 1968. His successor, Kurt Lotz, was not connected with the Porsche dynasty and the verbal agreement between Volkswagen and Porsche fell apart.

In Lotz’s opinion, Volkswagen had all rights to the model, and no incentive to share it with Porsche if they would not share in tooling expenses. With this decision, the price and marketing concept for the 914 had failed before series production had even begun. As a result, the price of the chassis went up considerably, and the 914/6 ended up costing only a bit less than the 911T, Porsche’s next lowest price car. This had a serious effect on sales, and the 914/6 sold quite poorly. In contrast, the much less expensive 914-4 became Porsche’s top seller during its model run, outselling the 911 by a wide margin, with over 118,000 units sold worldwide.

Estimates of the number of surviving 914s vary widely. Many 914s with serious but repairable damage were salvaged over the years because cost of a new chassis was relatively inexpensive compared to the cost and availability of repair parts. Many cars were cut up over the years with the purpose of saving other cars. The increasing scarcity of clean cars is driving up the value of the model.

While the 914 has been out of production for almost 35 years, many repair parts are still available. In large part, this is due to small companies which specialize in 914 parts and many enterprising enthusiasts who make small runs of parts to support the community. While a few parts are considered scarce and expensive (such as US-spec rear turn signal lenses and D-Jetronic Manifold Pressure Sensors), most are available from a variety of mail-order sources while still others are tooled and manufactured. Due to its nimble handling and the relatively low purchase cost of a basic 914, the "poor man’s" Porsche of the 1970s has become the poor man’s weekend racing car on amateur racing circuits.

Some enthusiasts see the 914 as a blank canvas upon which to create their own automotive dreams. Owners have modified the original four cylinder motors to upwards of 170 hp (127 kW). Some owners instead choose to swap different engines into the 914’s sizeable engine bay. These swaps include Volkswagen turbodiesels, 911 engines (following in the footsteps of the much sought after 914/6), Corvair air-cooled sixes, and the small-block Chevy V8. Recently, swaps of Subaru engines have gained popularity among the non-Porsche purists. The 914 has also become the foundation for an electric vehicle conversion kit.

Body modifications are another popular way to personalize a 914. Some of these are simple, such as bolting on fiberglass bumpers that aid the 914 into morphing into a look of the 916 prototype. Some modifications are more extensive, such as installing steel or fiberglass fender flares resembling the rare 914/6 GT. Some involve completely changing the appearance of the car, often to resemble some other mid-engine car, such as the Porsche 904 or the Ferrari Testarossa. And still others produce a style all their own such as the Mitcom Chalon, which marries the slant nose appearance of the Porsche 935 with flared fenders that maintain the distinctive 914 rear end. A fiberglass kit inspired by the Porsche 904, dubbed the 9014, was designed as a way to save a derelict 914 too expensive to repair by conventional methods. Increased 914 values over the years have made 914s more practical to restore.

Posted by Greg Foster Photography on 2010-07-20 16:52:43

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