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 1st, 1968 the first 914 prototype was presented. However, development became complicated after the death of Volkswagen's chairman, Heinz Nordhoff, on April 12th, 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.
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 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 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 and 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.
|Porsche 914 road vehicle history of 1969 to 1976|
|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|
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) 8-cylinder 908 engine it was based on a surplus 914 handbuilt development prototype bodyshell (chassis no. 914111), hence the many differences from the standard vehicle (eg, 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.
|Porsche 914 chassis numbers from 1970 to 1976|
|1970||4702900001 – 4702913312||9140430001 – 9140432668|
|1971||4712900001 – 4712916231||9141430001 – 9141430443|
|1972||4722900001 – 4722921580||9142430001 – 9142430240||9142330011 – 9142330022|
|1973||4732900001 – 4732927660|
|1974||4742900001 – 4742921370|
|1975||4752900001 – 4752911368|
|1976||4762900001 – 4762904100|
Another way to distinguish 914's 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. Another feature to distinguish the 914 by year is if it has a movable passenger seat, it is 72 and later, while the 71 and earlier had a fixed passenger seat.
Estimates of the number of surviving 914s vary wildly. Because of the cost and availability of repair parts compared to the inexpensive cost of a new chassis, many cars with serious but repairable damage were salvaged over the years. In fact 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 over 30 years, many repair parts are still available. In large part this is due to small companies which specialize in 914 parts, as well as many active car clubs. 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 low 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.
Many 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 . Many owners instead choose to swap different engines into the 914's sizeable engine bay. These swaps range from Volkswagen turbodiesels, to 911 engines (following in the foosteps of the much sought after 914/6) or Corvair air-cooled sixes, to a small-block Chevy V8. Recently, swaps of Subaru engines have gained popularity among the non-Porsche purists. The 914 is also the base 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 are more extensive, such as installing steel or fiberglass fender flares a la the super-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. 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 was offered in the 1990s dubbed the 9014 was designed as a way to save a derelict 914 too expensive to repair by conventional methods. The 9014's design was inspired by the famous Porsche 904 yet heavily modified to fit the 914 chassis. Over 100 kits were sold before the market changed, and increased 914 values made many more 914s practical to restore. Several suppliers still offer the kit to this day.
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. These are very rare cars!
The Bumblebee - Black exterior with yellow decal, skirts, bumpers, and wheels. This was a(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 unit were produced, about 50% Bumblebee and 50% Creamsicle.
There is also one other limited edition car, whose existence is still debated.
Grasshopper - Light Ivory (L80E) body / Green accent This color scheme is controversial at best. In spite of the reported sightings, no actual car or even a photo has been located in this color scheme. Aftermarket green stripes were available from Porsche-Audi Dealers, and it may be that 914 cars in this color scheme 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, but so far, factory records do not support that it was ever manufactured. After much research including contact with Porsche Archives (PAG) in Germany, Factory records verify that the color scheme was never produced, at least within the known VIN range of the other 914 LE cars. Until authenticated proof of the car surfaces, all evidence to date supports that the car is only a myth. An authentic Grasshopper 914 LE may surface, but until that time, we can only assume that it never existed.
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.
Volkswagen Chairman Martin Winterkorn has confirmed that VW will be showing a mid-engine roadster at the November 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, but some reports indicate that Porsche may be eyeing a return of the 914 based on the upcoming VW model.
Reports also suggest that while VW’s version is slated to use the company’s 1.4L Twincharger powerplant, Porsche’s version would likely use a 2.7L flat-six – the base engine in the Boxster.
Again power to weight will be key with the VW model having a 2,200 pound or less curb weight achieved possibly by the use of Audi’s aluminum space frame technology.
This has been backed by reports that Audi’s Walter da Silva has been overseeing the design of the new roadster which is said to delve deeply into the VW parts bin to keep development and production costs down.