February 8, 2023

Mechanic Escape

Built for the human race

“The Forgotten Porsche” – A 1974 Porsche 914 5-Speed

The Porsche 914 was developed in the mid 1960s as a joint project between Porsche and Volkswagen. Porsche needed a new replacement for their 912 model, VW needed a replacement for the aging VW Karmann Ghia, and so the 914 was one stone for two birds.

Despite its entry level nature the 914 is an excellent little sports car, it’s powered by a mid-mounted flat-four or flat-six, it has independent front and rear suspension, good handling by the standards of the time, and it weighed a little over 2,000 lbs with a full tank of gas.

Fast Facts – The Porsche 914

  • The Porsche 914 was released in 1969 in both Porsche and Volkswagen variants. The Porsche powered car was the 914/6 with a 911T flat-six engine, and the 914/4 was powered by a VW flat-four.
  • Porsche needed a new entry level car to replace the 912, which was basically a 911 with a smaller engine. There were fears that it was diluting the brand image and so a distinctively unique new Porsche was the order of the day.
  • For buyers in the late 1960s or 1970s who wanted an affordable mid-engined sports car with racing pedigree and sharp handling, the Porsche 914 was an obvious choice. This is, in part, why the sales of the car beat expectations with almost 119,000 of them sold between 1969 and 1976.
  • In the USA both variants of the 914 were sold as Porsches, but in Europe the earlier four-cylinder cars were sold as Volkswagen-Porsches.

The Porsche 914

The Porsche 914 is an oft forgotten car from the German marque, which seems a shame as it offered mid-engined European sports car thrills to an entire generation of people who may not have been able to afford a Porsche 911.

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Image DescriptionThe interior of the 914 doesn’t look dissimilar to the 911 of the same era. This car is finished in Bahia Red and a black leatherette interior with corduroy inserts.

Given the expansive line up of cars now being offered by Porsche it’s easy to forget that there was a time when the company’s road-going model line up consisted of just the 911 and the closely related 912, with a few additional special racing models largely intended for competition use.

The Porsche 912 was essentially a stripped down, cheaper 911 powered by a version of the flat-four engine instead of the 911’s famous flat-six. To the untrained eye both of the cars looked more or less identical.

Porsche was handling much of Volkswagen’s development work at the time, and as noted above VW needed an all-new replacement for their Karmann Ghia. A deal was struck and Porsche engineers got to work on the new design.

The car would be released in two key iterations – 914/6 with the flat-six from the 911T and 914/4 with a variant of the VW flat-four. Despite its unusual looks the 914 would prove to be a surprise success, selling 118,900+ units between 1969 and 1976.

The 914 would also see some notable successes on the track, a 914/6 GT driven by Claude Ballot-Léna and Guy Chasseuil won its class at the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans and came in an impressive 6th overall.

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Image DescriptionThis Porsche 914/4 is fitted with a 2.0 liter VW flat-four, the engine is now wearing a pair of Weber 44 carburetors and in stock trim it would produce approximately 100 bhp at 5,000 rpm and 118 lb ft of torque. It was the largest and most powerful engine offered in the /4 production cars.

In the world of Formula 1 the Porsche 914 is remembered as the first ever safety car, it was deployed at the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix to help manage the pace of the cars as there had been a number of incidents due to inclement weather.

Surviving examples of the 914 now often change hands for very little money, particularly the 914/4 model, which continues to offer a wonderful vintage European sports car experience for very reasonable money.

The Porsche 914 Shown Here

The car you see here is one of the more attainable 914/4 models, it’s a matching numbers car that benefits from a slew of improvements and some recent maintenance to the tune of over $7,800 USD.

It was given a fresh coat of its correct color, an eye-catching Bahia Red, back in 2013. More recently it’s had the sail-panel, various body/window/top seals, and the dash pad replaced. It’s also now fitted with SSI heat-exchangers, new Fuchs replica alloy wheels, and Weber 44 carburetors.

Power from the 2.0 liter flat-four is sent to the rear wheels via the original 5-speed manual transmission, and the car is showing 86,400 miles on the odometer.

It’s being offered for sale out of Eldersburg, Maryland on Marqued and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.

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Images courtesy of Marqued

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