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Porsche 914

Porsche 914 Published: 14th Nov 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Porsche 914

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 914/6
  • Worst model: Poor conversions
  • Budget buy: 914
  • OK for unleaded?: Usuall
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L3985 x W 1651mm
  • Spares situation: Fair
  • DIY ease?: Generally good
  • Club support: Decent
  • Appreciating asset?: Yes, an underrated classic
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VW-inspired mid-engined Porsche roadster that never cut it due to a lack of pedigree and pace is now a classic to watch 45 years since its launch, even if it’s harder to run than a 911

The trouble with entry level Porsches (and this even includes the 966-based Boxster) is that are never considered the real deal. In the case of the 924 (slated for having a van engine when it was nothing of the sort) and the 914, their reputations were tarnished from the outset thanks to their VW connections – yet doesn’t a 356 and dare we say it a 911 share that same DNA?

Is the 914 a Volkswagen or a proper Porsche? That’s always been the burning question hanging over this rare sportster, a radical, mid-engined Targa-topped roadster, designed by Porsche and funded by Volkswagen and sold by Audi.

The 914 was conceived in the late 1960s in an attempt to boost the fortunes of both these flagging companies.

The world’s first mass-produced mid-engined car, it was intended, particularly in the all-important USA market, to provide Volkswagen with a sportier, prestigious flagship model and Porsche with a cheap, entry-level car to undercut the 911 and the less powerful, 356-engined 912.

It flopped spectacularly but today, the 914 is a brilliant and still affordable chance to buy a rare head turning Porsche that’s not badged ‘911’.


1966 Gugelot Design first penned the 914 concept and passed the ideas around to various manufacturers until Porsche and VW jumped on it in 1966. Volkswagen chief Heinz Nordhoff and Ferry Porsche agreed to hand the design work to Stuttgart while VW provided the finances and organisation. To keep costs down, the car would use a plethora of VW parts, including the four-cylinder engine and gearbox from the Type 4 saloon.

Styling was to be radically different to existing Porsches to distance the 914 from the 911, and the car (designated VW Type 47 and Porsche 914) would also be available with a slightly detuned version of the 911T’s more Porsche six-pot unit.

As was traditional with its convertibles, Volkswagen farmed out the assembly to Karmann, which carried out the entire build of the Volkswagen version, but also supplied bodies to Porsche for installation of its own engine and running gear at Zuffenhausen.

Both manufacturers planned to market their car through their respective dealers, but Kurt Lotz – Nordhoff’s successor at Volkswagen – was reluctant to let Porsche happily market what he considered a VW product. As a result, VW-Porsche GmbH, was established near Stuttgart to handle sales and marketing. Most nationalities knew the 914 as a VW-Porsche, but it was strictly Porsche only in the States, as the car was sold through the new Porsche-Audi network of dealers. 1969 The 914/4 débuted at the Frankfurt Show and VW-engined version hit showrooms almost immediately, with the much awaited Porsche-powered 914/6 following soon after.

The 1679cc four-cylinder, air-cooled, D-Jetronic, fuel-injected engine sat behind the cockpit and the transaxle (normally ahead of the engine in the VW) was at the rear. Power was a 80bhp and only 70bhp for emission-controlled US cars.

Instruments came straight out of the Porsche parts bin, but the switches, door cranks and other trinkets were obvious Beetle items. This took the edge off the £2261 914/4 and seriously cheapened the costly £3475 914/6 in 1970, which at the time was a whopping £1000 dearer than an E-type and only a few hundred less than a 911! The central roof section was a winner, though. It could be lifted out and clipped inside the rear boot lid in just a few seconds.

The basic 914 could be improved with the optional S pack with extra bright work and tastier wheels among other plush extras, which proved popular. Seats were simple and only the driver’s chair was adjustable. To improve access to the cockpit, the handbrake, located by the driver’s sill, was a pseudo fly-off type that flopped to the floor after being applied or released – good for autotests!. 1970 Answering criticisms of a lack of power, the 914/6, with its 125bhp 2.0-litre Porsche power, is launched. Using Bosch L-Jetronic injection for the US market, the engine had to comply with anti-smog laws – but Europe got twin triple-choke Weber 40 IDT P1 carbs. There were larger 15” alloy wheels with 165HR15 tyres, while standard trim included chrome bumper and wheel arch covers, black vinyl rollover bar, halogen headlights and better upholstery. While performance was certainly more like it the virtual-911 price tags were the car’s Achilles heel, and the 914/6 was dropped at the end of 1971 after only 3381 examples were built

1973 A compromise was introduced in the form of the 914 2.0-litre, at a more palatable £2799. With a big barrel version of the Volkswagen engine, breathed on by Porsche, the 2.0-litre posted at 100bhp. The SC tag it wore was special to the UK. 1974 Another revision saw the 1.7 become a 1.8. The 1795cc engine from VW’s latest Type 4 boasted an extra four bhp, bigger- bore barrels and Bosch L-Jetronic injection. Various wheel and tyre options were fitted ranging from 185/14 to 185/70-15. Produced from 1969-75 and with more than 115,000 made, the 914 was seen more as an expensive Volkswagen rather than a bargain Porsche, and sneered at by 911 owners; in the US some clubs even banned the crossbreed! Most UK cars will be US imports, mainly from California, where most of the originals were sold.


Even the most hardened critics will admit that the 914 is much better to drive than it looks. Thank the mid-engine layout, which is much more predictable than the rear- engined 911. Couple this with somewhat modest power and the 914 handles with the utmost precision. In fact, engineers recorded superior cornering powers over the 911 because – and 911 lovers won’t like to read this – it was a much superior basic design…

Agreed, the VW-powered versions are slouches. Early road tests recorded a 0-60mph time of over 14 seconds for the 1.7-litre. The 914/6 is much livelier but there’s few around. For many, the 1973 2.0-litre VW model is the ideal compromise. In 1973 Motor managed a 0-60mph time of 9.3 seconds and a top speed of 115mph from a 914SC, and its 30-50mph time in top gear was faster than a 911S at just 10.6 seconds. Sadly, like the similar Lotus Europa Special (which was cheaper when new), the gearchange was initially poor on pre-73 cars but all boasted five-speeds.

The central roof section was ahead of its time and universally praised but the press had mixed opinions about the car.

American Car and Driver reckoned it was a “miscast” and concluding that, given its lukewarm performance, lousy gear change, poor build quality and more, the 914 was “bankrupt” and while it was half the price of a 911, it was only half as good! Take that as a no then…

On the other hand, rival mag Motor Trend voted the 914 Import Car of The Year for 1970 and our UK motor noters looked upon the car more favourably (perhaps because it wasn’t regarded as a Porsche as it was in the United States?).

Yet as much as our respected Car liked the 914/4, the critical iconic monthly also dammed it by saying that the 914 was essentially “an MGB class car with an E-type price”, which essentially it was.

Our own contributor and Porsche 911 expert Paul Davies tested the 914 back in his Hot Car days and rated it the best Porsche he had tested. Mind you that was way back in 1971; in retrospect our resident 911 loving jurno told us the car was so well balanced that it lacked excitement, unlike the 911.


The 914 is still popular in the US so tuning options are plentiful. As the front suspension is from an early 911 there’s plenty of scope for uprating it to later items. Same again for the VW brakes, which can be substituted for 911 anchors – add Koni adjustable dampers to the mix and this seems to be an ideal blend. The VW air-cooled engines are pretty tunable and well over 2000cc can be extracted with suitable barrel conversions without losing that low rev lustiness. The Porsche 914/6 is tuned by the usual Porsche methods.

Converting a 914 into a 914/6 is rarely done properly and, in the US, small block V8s have been installed – the cooling system needs a serious update, mind! But as any VW fan will tell you, Subaru Impreza power is the best upgrade around and there are numerous conversion kits in the US for around $1500. Even if you like your 914 stock, fitting the later Porsche transaxle from a 930 improves the gearbox no end.


According to Kevin Clark, registrar of the 914 at the Porsche Club GB (01608 652911; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), there’s around 175-200 cars in the UK, but not all are on the road. He admits it’s true that up until a few years ago, the general standard over here was at best average but this is fast changing and there’s now an increasing number of well kept examples. Spares are in the main not a problem and he cites reproduction panels from Canadian company, Restoration Designs, as being very good indeed.

Prices for tidy 914s start from £10,000 for a 1.7 and between £12-16K for a 2.0, with the 1.8 somewhere in between, which is about half what a rare 914/6 would make if you can find one. It’s generally accepted that the 2-litre (SC) is the best all rounder, but as Kevin rightly points out, due to their sheer rarity, it’s best to buy on condition rather than spec, be it a 1.7 or 1.8.

What To Look For


* The air-cooled, Beetle-derived engine is typically dependable and low-revving. Chief points to watch out for are smoking, fuming, broken fins, overheating and perished hoses – including the fuel lines, most which will have been upgraded. Porsche tweaked the 2.0-litre engine for added pep.

* Many cars ran on Bosch fuel injection, which is reliable enough. However, when it plays up owners have been known to swap back to carbs but do it badly. An overhaul of the injection set up costs around £1500.

* Conversions to the 914/6 aren’t uncommon but few are done properly due to the sheer cost. Make sure that you are indeed buying a 914/6 if it’s what you’re after. Fours have four-bolt wheels, for instance, the Six has 911 five-bolt affairs plus three-speed wipers, electric screen washers and much more.


* The interior trim is typically robust, although US cars may suffer from sun-damaged cockpits. Dash tops are available but cost over £300 – three times the cost of an aftermarket seat retrim kit, for example. The Porsche instruments are strangely unreliable, especially the rev counters and are similarly dear.

* Trim improved greatly over the years – ‘72 onwards seem best as the passenger seat became adjustable but it’s the condition that counts above all else.

* US cars are popular as most sold there but smog gear could strangle power to a measly 76bhp – and the rubber bumpers barely improved those looks. 1973 cars feature attractive covered roof buttresses, while some American cars gained spoilers and other trinkets.


* The biggest worry is rust and by far the main rot spot is around the battery area. It’s more than likely that repair work has been carried out already but the worst cases can spread to the chassis leg. If that’s the case then walk away as the leg costs around £300 and it can take up to 100 man hours to fit.

* Sills are a rot haven. They are three-piece affairs with an outer that’s riveted on. Some owners drill them out to replace with screws so you can gain access to liberally squirt Waxoyl in. It’s the inner box sections that rot.

* The Targa top is known to allow water to seep into the rear A post area, which will be costly to put right.

* Underneath inspect the chassis, especially the suspension mounts, front and rear. Look for previous welding, bodging and so on. The boot floors are also known rust areas.

* Front wings cost over £600. Rear wings are even dearer so check around light clusters and valance panel. Inspect windscreen surround as it means the bulkhead has suffered. Windscreen and roof seals are not to be ignored either, as it can cost up to £2000 to replace perished ones!


* PR Services (07000356911 who were the UK’s leading 914 experts until it dumped the car because there was no money in looking after them. Mike and Paul Smith reckon the biggest problem is owners who won’t shell out for preventative maintenance and about 80 per cent of cars out there are pretty ropey. Sad because Paul loves the 914 and still owns one… Try specialist Roger Bray suggests one 914 owner we spoke to.

* Parts – many of which are still available from VW – are not generally a problem. US and Canadian aftermarket firms produce plenty of replica spares and upgrades and quality is now much improved.

* Servicing is not overly complicated although it’s a good idea to have a friendly Porsche specialist work on the six-cylinder engine. Otherwise, it’s the usual VW air-cooled stuff. Routine items can be accessed from above, via the narrow engine lid between back window and boot, but spark plugs are an up-and-under job and a bit of a pain.


* The five-speed manual box had an awful gear change when new and when the linkages are worn. Post 1972 cars benefit from a better unit but just fully sorting the original train can work wonders. Some fit the later Porsche 930 transaxle. Bear in mind that the 914 used a 911 transaxle so repairs will be costly. Check for worn clutches, gear noise, loss of gears etc, and don’t instantly assume that it’s the linkages that are causing all the trouble.

* The disc brakes differ according to the car and year, but they should all work well. VW-powered cars used 411 components while the 914/6 used contemporary 911 stoppers. Both are generally sound but check for seized calipers and worn discs on all.

* It’s not quite identical, but the front suspension is broadly early 911 so watch for wear in the torsion bars (which can be reset) king pins, bearings and so on.

* As standard, the 914/4 rolled on simple steel wheels with hub caps; 914/6 sported tasty 911-style Fuchs alloys, although a variety of alloy styles were also fitted. Tyre size was a modest 165-185 sizes so expect good quality types to be fitted as they are hardly dear.

Three Of A Kind

Mid-engined, Targa topped and brilliantly compact, the lovely little Fiat X/19 was dubbed a baby Ferrari from the start and was the closest to the 914 in spirit. Like the Porsche, there’s minimal performance but the car’s great handling and poise make up for it plus the ‘1500’ cars also boast five-speed transmissions. Being a Fiat, they all rot like mad and the hydraulics often play up. Still cheap to buy and own but most cars are only average nick.
Very similar in concept and design to the 914, the MR2 mixed proven Carina mechanicals to similar great effect. The jagged-edge styled MkI set the scene and the softer Ferrari-looking MkII followed in 1990 while the brilliant MkIII is perhaps closest to the 914 concept of them all, plus looks a bit like a Boxster. Most are hugely dependable, though can rot like mad and some MK3s had engine issues. Barmy grey import turbocharged models demand 911-like respect to drive.
For the price of a 914 you can grab the modern equivalent, the Boxster. Another mid-mounted engined roadster it has the handling and poise reminiscent of the 914 but a whole lot more power, especially in S form. There are lots of specialists around to help with maintenance although routine fixes can still be very expensive indeed. Prices have largely bottomed out but too many cars are shabby due to owners lacking finances to run them properly.


Forty five years since its launch the odd looking VW-Porsche 914 is more appealing than ever. Some may say it lacks pace and prestige, and a 911 is easier to maintain as a classic, but the car’s rarity and current values compensate and we’d sooner have one over a tired out and expensive to repair Boxster.

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