"I couldn't find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself"

- Ferdinand Porsche

Porsche 914 Facts







Porsche 914
Manufacturer Porsche (Type 914/6)
Karmann (Type 914/4)
Also called VW-Porsche 914
Production 1969–1976
118,978 produced[1]
914/4: 115,646
914/6: 3,332
Assembly Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany
Osnabrück, Germany (VW-Porsche)
Predecessor Porsche 912
Successor Porsche 924
Class Sports car
Body style(s) Targa
Coupe
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine(s) 1.7 L H4
1.8 L H4
2.0 L H4
2.0 L H6
Wheelbase 2,450 mm (96.5 in)
Length 3,985 mm (156.9 in)
Width 1,650 mm (65.0 in)
Height 1,230 mm (48.4 in)
Curb weight 940 kg (2,100 lb)−995 kg (2,190 lb)

The Porsche 914 and VW-Porsche 914 are mid-engined sports cars which was built and sold collaboratively by Volkswagen and Porsche from 1969 to 1976.

History

Development

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.

The unique rear of the Porsche 914

 

Design evolution

Volkswagen versions originally came with an 80 hp (60 kW) fuel-injected 1.7 L flat-4 engine based on the Volkswagen air cooled engine. Porsche's 914/6 variant came with a carbureted 110 hp (82 kW) 2.0 L flat-6 engine, taken from the 1969 911T. The engine was placed amidships, in front of a version of the 1969 911's "901" gearbox set up for mid-engine operation. Karmann manufactured the rolling chassis at their own plant, then either sent them to Porsche for fitment of the Porsche suspension and flat-six engine or kept them in house for Volkswagen hardware. 914/6 models used a similar suspension and brakes to the 911, giving the car handling and braking superiority over the 4-cylinder Volkswagen models in addition to higher power output. A Volkswagen-Porsche joint venture, Volkswagen of America, handled export to the U.S., where both versions were badged and sold as Porsches. In Europe, the four-cylinder cars were sold as Volkswagen-Porsches, at Volkswagen dealerships. This "tainted" the car in the opinion of many automotive critics of that era, and a little of that attitude persists to this day.

Slow sales and rising costs prompted Porsche to discontinue the 914/6 variant in 1972 after producing 3,351 of them; its place in the lineup was filled by a variant powered by a new 95 hp (71 kW) 2.0 L, fuel-injected version of Volkswagen's Type 4 engine in 1973. For 1974, the 1.7 L engine was replaced by a 76 hp (57 kW) 1.8 L, and the new Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was added to American units to help with emissions control. 914 production ended in 1976. The 2.0 L flat-4 engine continued to be used in the 912E, which provided an entry-level model until the 924 was introduced.

The 914 was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1970[2] and the actual test car that was eventually given away via a drawing at the New York Auto Show. A 914/6 piloted by Frenchmen Claude Ballot-Lena and Guy Chasseuil won the GTS class and finished sixth overall at the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans.[3]

Chart of 914 development


Porsche 914 road vehicle history of 1969 to 1976
Model Power 1960s 1970s
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
914
914/4 59 kW/80 PS
914/6 81 kW/110 PS
914 1.7 59 kW/80 PS
914 1.8 56 kW/76 PS (USA); 63 kW/85 PS (RoW)
914 2.0 70 kW/95 PS (USA); 74 kW/100 PS (RoW)
914 2.0 (only in US) 65 kW/88 PS

Follow on prototypes

Planned for the 1972 model year, a version known as the Porsche 916 was cancelled after only eleven prototypes. The 916 with its highly styled aerodynamic front and rear bumpers, was to have either the 2.4 engine from the 911S, or the 2.7 from the Carrera. They were also to have a fixed steel roof, wider wheels, double grilled engine lid, and flared fenders as styled from the 914-6 GT cars.[4] Ventilated disc brakes were fitted to all four wheels, and also a "mid-engined" version of the then-new 915 transmission, giving a conventional shift pattern with 1 to 4 in an H and fifth out on a limb. One 916 was built to US specs and on delivery to the USA was fitted with air conditioning by the dealer (Brumos).

Two prototype 914s, dubbed 914/8, were built during 1969. The orange 914/8 was the first constructed, at the instigation of Ferdinand Piëch (then head of the Racing Dept), to prove the concept. Powered by the full-blown, 310 hp (222 kW) 908 [flat-8] racing engine, it was based on a surplus 914 handbuilt development prototype bodyshell (chassis no. 914111), hence the many differences from the standard vehicle (e.g., the quad headlights). The second, silver, road-registered car, powered by a carburetted and detuned 908 race engine making 260 hp (194 kW) was then prepared as a gift to Ferry Porsche on his 60th birthday. Also based on a spare prototype shell (chassis no. 914006), it was much closer to the standard car in detail. By all accounts Ferry didn't like the car very much and it sits in the Porsche Museum. Neither car saw a racetrack except for the purposes of testing. The 914/8 was not considered for production as a regular model. Another factory prototype, a 914/6 (chassis no. 914114) surfaced in the US in 2001. Together with a surviving prototype Sportomatic 914/6 (chassis no. 914120), reputedly in Southern Germany, they form a unique and fascinating piece of Porsche history.

Technical information

Chassis numbers

Porsche 914 chassis numbers from 1970 to 1976
Year 914/4 914/6 916
1970 4702900001 – 4702913312 9140430001 – 9140432668
1971 4712900001 – 4712916231 9141430001 – 9141430443
1972 4722900001 – 4722921580 9142430001 – 9142430260 9142330011 – 9142330022
1973 4732900001 – 4732927660
1974 4742900001 – 4742921370
1975 4752900001 – 4752911368
1976 4762900001 – 4762904100

Distinguishing marks

During the evolution of the model, certain characteristics of the car changed. An observer can use those traits to determine in which year a particular 914 model was made. The most distinguishable trait is the bumpers. Between 1970 and 1972, both front and rear bumpers were flat across and available in either chrome or painted metal. In 1973, bumper guards were added to the front of the car. And in 1974, bumper guards were also added to the rear of the car. In 1975 and 1976, the big black bumper years, the bumpers were rubber covered and heavy. Some people like the smooth look of the later bumpers, but most prefer the lighter weight chrome ones. Many people have backdated their bumpers, so this is not always a tell all, but certainly a good starting point for identity.

Another way to distinguish 914s is by the plastic piece that goes around the headlight. White ones are from the first 914s to mid-production of 73. After that, it was a black plastic. The passenger seat is another feature used to distinguish the year of the car. 1971 and earlier had a fixed passenger seat, while 1972 and later featured a movable passenger seat.

State of the 914 fleet today

A well-preserved 914 on public display

 

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. Probably the best estimate is from the different enthusiast organizations who are constantly gathering data, and one of them currently estimates the remaining numbers to be at approximately 42,000

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 (only available in the reproduction market) and D-Jetronic Manifold Pressure Sensors (only available in rebuilt)), 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.

Limited editions

Over its years of existence, the 914 had a few special edition units produced. The appeal of these cars was their looks. The use of extreme color contrasts and decals set them apart from stock cars.

The Creamsicle - A cream color exterior with red decal, skirt, bumpers, and wheels. The corresponding paint number is U2V9. Phoenix Red is actually a reddish-orange color. This Light Ivory-based color scheme concept is a carry-over from the 1973 911 Carrera RS series car design precedent.

The Bumblebee - Black exterior with yellow negative Porsche decal, rocker panels, bumpers, Mahle wheels and specially designed front spoiler. This was a Black (L041) body / Sunflower Yellow (L13K) accent. The corresponding paint number is U1V9. Black body paint color was always an additional cost special option on standard 914 Porsche cars, but was included as a standard component on the black 914 LE cars. It is worth noting that all but one photo of the 914 Porsche Can Am prototype cars are Bumblebee cars. The Black based 914 LE color scheme is unique to the 914 LE cars and has no precedent with the Can Am race cars or the 1973 911 Carrera RS series cars. The majority of 914 Limited Editions are Bumblebees, which also seem to be the most sought-after 914 LE color scheme.

It is estimated that about 1000 of these units were produced, about 50% Bumblebee and 50% Creamsicle. Additionally all Limited Editions were equipped with front and rear anti sway bars, center console with oil temp clock and voltmeter, dual horns, foam covered steering wheel, driving lights, and anodized rear roll bar chrome.

There is one other limited edition car, whose existence was for a while debated but has been proven to have never been produced:

The so called grasshopper, a Light Ivory (L80E) body / Green accent. This color scheme came about because of the variety of stripe colors the Porsche dealers offered that year. These cars therefore were simply made by the dealers or owners. This Light Ivory-based color scheme concept may be a carry-over from the 1973 911 Carrera RS series car design precedent, After much research including contact with Porsche Archives (PAG) in Germany, Factory records verify that the color scheme was never produced.

A letter concerning the existence of the car was sent to Porsche, the reply was that no such limited edition car was produced by the factory.[5]

See also

References

  1. Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, vol.4. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 362. ISBN 3-613-02131-5.
  2. "1970 Porsche 914 - Motor Trend Import Car of the Year - Motor Trend Classic". Motor Trend. 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  3. "Le Mans 24 Hours 1970 - Final Standings". 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  4. "Porsche 916". Volkswagen Porsche 914 club Westphalia. 2007. Archived from the original on 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  5. The 1974 Porsche 914 Limited Edition

External links

 

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