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Porsche 914
Porsche
aka Porsche 914
Porsche 914/6
Production 1969-1976
Class Sports
Body Style 2-door roadster, Targa roof
Length 3985 mm
Width 1650 mm
Height 1230 mm
Wheelbase 2450 mm
Weight 914 - 950 KG
914/6 - 980 KG
Transmission 5-speed Manual
Engine 914 - 4-cylinder Boxer
914/6 - 6-cylinder Boxer
Power 914 - 80 BHP
914/6 - 110 BHP
914 1.8 - 85BHP
914 2.0 - 100 BHP
Similar Porsche 912
Lotus Elan
Designer Heinrich Klie

It had already been proved to Porsche that a lower priced model would sell in great volumes, in the shape of the immensely successful Porsche 912. After the end of this model in 1969, Porsche realised that it was missing out on a very large chunk of customers - the problem had to be rectified. The solution to the very important problem came in the shape of the Porsche 914.

Strong Ties and a Departure From the Norm

The idea that the project would be a joint effort between Volkswagen and Porsche had been decided in the mid-1960s, when Ferry Porsche met VW's head honcho, Heinrich Nordhoff. The new car seemed perfect for both of them - it would provide Stuttgart with the desired entry level Porsche, and Wolfsburg with a new car which would broaden the appeal of the brand. The deal involved the two companies sharing development and building costs, sharing knowledge on handling and dynamics and mass-production. Also written into the contract was that the vehicle was to be supplied with both a VW-built four cylinder and a Porsche-built six cylinder. The car was designed by Heinrich Klie from the Porsche design center, and the finished article was unveiled in 1969, at the Frankfurt Motorshow.

The car was to be marketed as a VW-Porsche, and this sparked distaste amongst Porsche enthusiasts - why was the prestigious Porsche name being saddled with such a mundane, mass-produced and un-sporting brand such as VW? However, once they got over the badge snobbery, a very interesting motor vehicle lay beneath. For a start, it was mid-engined, and was the first Porsche to be built with such a layout. Then there was the removeable Targa roof, the engaging chassis and the masses of storage space.

Porsche was keen to stress the strong genes of the car - it was mid-engined, just like the 904 racer, it featured an open top engineered to provide class-beating (and 911-beating) torsional stiffness, and was also built alongside the 911 - well, the Porsche-engined six-cylinder version was. But by the end of 1969, Porsche could no longer claim this - the removal of shells from the Karmann works, where the VW-powered model was made, and then transporting them to Zuffenhausen, proved too complex, and as such, a brand-new production facility was built, near to the exisiting Porsche works. The new factory sparked and even stronger bond between the two marques, in the shape of the coining of a new company - VW-Porsche Vertriebgesellschaft GmbH - created specifically for the 914.

Performance Differences and Money Matters

The Porsche 914/6 featured many upgrades over its VW-powered sibling. Most obvious was the performance difference - the 1.7 litre flat 4 VW afforded the standard car with mediocre performance, but the 2.0 litre, 110BHP Flat 6, Porsche engine boosted the performance to class-leading at the time. The 914/6 also benefitted from longer specification lists, a large wealth of options, 911 disc brakes, a 911 steering system and a thick coat of sealant under the car to prevent rusting. Despite these changes, the 914/6 was still sold with the VW-Porsche tag, which undid most of the hard work Porsche had done differentiating the two models, in the buyers eyes - they stayed away.

What did not help the car's case was the fact that, in the UK, it was only £200 cheaper than the 911. Although a few buyers appreciated the more forgiveable chassis, the vehicle was only produced in left-hand drive, writing the lucrative British market off the map.

When, in 1973, the VW-powered engine increased in capacity to 2.0 litres, the 914/6 became a white elephant, providing no performance gains over the standard 914. Needless to say, it was struck of the pricelists, and Porsche formed a double model range formed of the 914 (still in original 1.7 capacity) and 914 2.0 (fitted with the new 100BHP engine from VW). The new power rise found favour with the motoring press, but buyers found the range confusing and surprisingly pointless. Sales were not as strong as Porsche were expecting, but it perservered with the model.

In 1974, the 1.7 litre was updated to 1.8 litre capacity and, in European specification, power went up to 85 BHP. Unfortunately, the US emission laws strangled the power output of the new engine, which was only producing 76BHP - 4BHP down on the 1.7. Safety features, such as three-point seatbelts, were fitted as standard.

In 1975, the 914 was entering its twilight years - in Europe, sales were falling off the chart, and customers seemed generally unhappy with the lack of power and very basic standard equipment. In the USA, limited editions were coming out with increased frequency, in an attempt to capture sales. Despite numerous colour chart revisions and new wheel designs, the 914 was winning precious few buyers.

In 1976, VW's new boss, Rudolf Leiding, decreed that they no longer needed the 914 for its new business direction, and pulled out of the project. Rumored to have cost Porsche up to £70 million, the pull-out left Porsche on the verge of its darkest hour. However, the replacement was set to change all that, arriving in the shape of the Porsche 924.

Photos

Models

Standard Models

  • 1969-1974 - VW-Porsche 914
  • 1969-1973 - VW-Porsche 914/6
  • 1974-1976 - VW-Porsche 914 1.8
  • 1973-1976 - VW-Porsche 914 2.0

Specials

  • 1970 - Giugiaro Tapiro, a non-production model based upon a 914/6. Boxy styling was replaced with a sleek aerodynamic design. Used by a rich businessman until it was destroyed in protest in early 2000s.
  • 1974 - US only GT - lurid paint, new body addenda.
  • 1975 - US only Silver Series - silver paint, aluminium alloys and tinted glass.
  • 1974 - Porsche 916 - limited run of 911-engined 914s, not for sale to public.
  • 1976 - Porsche 918 - one built for Ferry Porsche, using 8-cylinder 908 engine, developing 300 BHP - one built also for Ferdinand Piech, in racing spec.

See Also

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PORSCHE

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Ferdinand Porsche · Ferry Porsche · Butzi Porsche · Erwin Komenda · Ferdinand Piech · Porsche Design Group · PASM · Porsche Museum · Porsche Supercup · TechArt · RUF Automobile


Ferdinand Porsche Corporate website A subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group



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