The Porsche 914: the plentiful but rare Porsche

The Porsche 914 recently turned 50 years old.  Over 100,000 copies were produced but yet it is quite rare.

Growing up, every single one of us had a wish list of cars we dreamt of owning as adults.  For those of us who are older, the list was most likely populated with Porsches, Ferraris, BMWs, and Lamborghinis.

As we approached driving age and our expectations began to align with economic reality, our lists changed.  The Ferraris and Lamborghinis came off the list only to be replaced by Mustangs, Volkswagen GTIs, and Toyota Trucks.  For many of us who still had a Porsche at the top of our list, the most likely was the Porsche 914.

Fast forward two decades into adulthood and the Porsche 914 has become an increasingly rare and coveted vehicle that continues to increase in value.

History of the Porsche 914

Manufactured between 1969 and 1976, the VW-Porsche 914 was a joint venture between Porsche and Volkswagen to design, manufacture, and market a mid-engine sports car.  In 1970, the Porsche 914 became the Porsche’s entry-level vehicle.

In the mid-1960s Porsche was looking to add a new vehicle to its line-up beneath the 911. However, being the small company that it was, it did not have the resources to go about funding the development of a new vehicle itself.  Porsche, the company started decades earlier as a contract automotive designer so reaching out to other companies was nothing new.

At the time, Volkswagen was seeking a successor to its aging Volkswagen Type 34, also known as the Karman Ghia. Ferry Porsche, son of Ferdinand Porsche and VW Director Heinrich Nordhoff shook hands on the joint venture. When Nordhoff unexpectedly died in 1968, the project was on the verge of collapse. Ferry Porsche worked out a solution with VW management establishing the VW-Porsche sales company.

The new company existing to market the new entry level Porsche. In European markets, the 914 was sold as the VW-Porsche while in the US market, the vehicle was marketed as a Porsche.

The Porsche 914 engine

The VW-Porsche 914 was powered 1.7 liter flat-four.  There was a 1.7, 1.8, and 2.0 liter version of the flat-four engine while the flat-six engine was also offered 2.0 liters of displacement.

Volkswagen’s version of the 914 was offered with an all-new fuel-injected 1.7 L Volkswagen Type 4 flat four engine producing 80 bhp.  It was Volkswagen’s first production injection engine.  The top-of-line Porsche 914/6 was offered with Porsche’s 2.0 L air-cooled Type 901/3 engine, the same one that powered the Porsche 911T produced between 1967 and 1969.  This was also Porsche’s least-powerful flat-six engine in their line up.

The 2.0 Liter flat-six Type 901/3 engine in the Porsche 914/6 was different from the one in the Porsche 911T.  Different pistons enabled it to run at a lower 8.6:1 compression ratio.  Additionally, cylinder barrels were made entirely of iron compared to an iron-aluminum allow barrel used in the 911S and 911L.   The camshafts of the 914/6 also had less lift and relaxed timing characteristics resulting in mildly-detuned version of the Type 901/3 engine compared to the one offered in the 911L.

The transmission powering both all versions of the 914/4 and 914/6 were the same, a version of Porsche’s 911 “901” gearbox configured for a mid-engine sports car.   However, the 914/6 models came with lower gear ratios to compensate for the added weight and performance.

Differences between the 914/4 and 914/6 did not stop there.  The 914/6 also had bigger brakes and featured five lug wheels compared to four lug wheels for the 914/4.  The suspension and handling between the two were essentially the same.  The only other minor difference was that the ignition in the 914/6 was on the left-side of the steering wheel.

Porsche 914-6 GT

Porsche 914 performance

The 1.7 liter flat-four engine developed 80 horsepower at 4,900rpm.  This was sufficient to propel the 914 from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 13 seconds accelerating all the way through to almost 110 miles per hour.  In contrast, the 2.0 liter 901/3 engine in the 914/6 put out 110 horsepower at 5,800rpms.  With the 914/4 having a dry weight of almost 2,000 lbs and the 914/6 having a weight of 2,068 lbs, the 914 boasted an incredible power-to-weight ratio.

Porsche 914 Special Editions

As with other Porsche models, several special derivations of the 914 were produced that were quite significant.  There was the Porsche 914S that came equipped with an eight cylinder engine borrowed from the same Porsche 908 that dominated racing circuits throughout the 1970s.  This particular engine sat in front of the rear axle and since it came equipped with fuel injection, it was able to produce 300 horsepower.  The first of two vehicles was used as a development vehicle while the second one was presented to Dr. Ferry Porsche to celebrate his 60th birthday.  While the second one produced 260 horsepower, both vehicles had a top speed of 250 km/hr.

The second special derivation of the Porsche 914 came equipped with the same engine that powered the Porsche 911S and Carrera 911 RS.  Dubbed the Porsche 916, just eleven were produced that were then optimized for motor-sport purposes and produced between 190 and 210 horsepower.

Porsche 914 Collectability

Porsche produced 119,000 of the 914 over its six-year production run. Despite the large number of units produced, the Porsche 914 is relatively rare thirty to forty years later. Classics.autotrader.com lists 31 Porsche 914s nationwide. In contrast, there are 15 Porsche 918s available for sale on Autotrader.com. Only 918 units of the Porsche 918 were made.

The Porsche 918 is a rare vehicle considering its production run because it was entry-level vehicle designed for a younger market, was cheap and easy to run, and fun to drive.   As a result, many of the vehicles produced were run into the ground.

Prices

In 2018, a green Porsche 1974 Porsche 914 with a 2.0 liter flat-four engine with just 4,934 miles exchanged hands for $93,400. The previous year, a yellow 1975 1.8 liter 914 sold for $93,500. Both vehicles were excellent, low mileage examples of the marque.

Of the 119,000 914s built, 116,000 were had the four-cylinder engines. Just 3,300 of the 914-6 were produced with the six-cylinder Porsche engine, copies in good condition routinely trade hands in the six figures.

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