History of the 1974 - 1975 Porsche 914
By the late 1960s, inflation and currency issues had forced Porsche so far upmarket that the company needed a new 4-cylinder entry-level car. The 912 could no longer be produced cheaply enough, and the Datsun 240Z under-priced and out-performed it.
The answer was a collaboration with Volkswagen who would sell the new car, dubbed the 914, as a VW-Porsche in Europe. It was sold as a Porsche in America, but never carried the badge. The 914 was introduced in September 1969 at the Frankfurt Auto Show as a replacement for the 912. Both manufacturers gained from the arrangement. Porsche capitalized on Volkswagen's economies of scale, while VW got new ideas from Porsche.
The 914 styling by Gugelot was considered odd (they had previously designed appliances) but it avoided most of the problems connected with a mid-engine layout, with good outward vision, a Targa roof, and front and rear luggage compartments. The 914 was four inches lower than the 911, but looked even lower, thanks to black-painted door sills and accents under the bumpers. It was also an inch and a half wider than the 911, with a wheelbase seven inches longer, to accommodate the optional Porsche 6-cylinder engine. Overhangs were trimmed to make the overall length seven inches shorter than the 911.
Performance was modest at first, with 1679cc and 1795cc 4-cylinder engines derived from the VW 411 and 412 motors. But the later 1971cc, 100hp engine improved performance significantly. Handling was superb with 4-wheel disc brakes and precise steering, while bright colours suited the car well. By the time 914 production ceased, 115,646 had been sold, mostly 5-speeds, with a handful of Sportomatics.
The 914 underwent significant changes between 1969 and 1976. In 1970 and 1971, Porsche offered the 914/4 and the 914/6. All the cars had non-adjustable passenger seats with an adjustable footrest in place of a seat adjuster. The 1972 914s included a passenger seat adjustment, air vents in the dashboard and improved insulation and sound deadening.
The 914/6 was produced between 1970 and 1972, with a carburetted version of Porsche’s 6-cylinder engine. Suspension was upgraded to accommodate the 110hp output and Porsche also produced 32 factory-built, race-prepped versions of the 914/6 GT. Another 455 914/6s were ordered with the "Competition Option Group" GT package or were fitted later with a factory kit. But the 914/6 never found its market, and many of the 3332 that were sold went straight to the race track, where their looks were secondary. There were also 11 experimental 916 models.
The 1973 mode year brought a major improvement as the 914/6 was dropped in favour of the 914 2.0 model with a 100hp 2-litre engine. Early 914s had a reputation for sloppy gearshifts, thanks to the mechanism being mounted on the tail of the gearbox, two thirds of the car away from the actual gear lever, but 1973 ushered in a side-shift mechanism that worked much better.
The optional Appearance Group included chrome bumpers, vinyl and aluminium roll bar trim, dual horns, foglamps, cast Pedrini or Fuchs forged-aluminium wheels, leather steering wheel and gear lever trim, and pile carpeting, as well as a centre console with an armrest and storage area, and anti-roll bars on 2-litre cars.
The only Limited Edition 914s were built in 1974 to celebrate the Can Am racing series in America. The cars were painted black with yellow trim and wheels, white with orange trim and wheels and white with lime green trim and wheels. While 1000 "bumblebees", 400 "creamsicles" and 100 "Grasshoppers" are believed to have been built, U.S. dealers often repainted them, as they were hard to sell.
The 1.8-litre engine appeared in 1974, but due to lower-compression pistons, it generated 4hp less than the 1.7-litre unit. It was equipped with Bosch's L-Jetronic fuel-injection system, which was less reliable than the earlier D-Jetronic. The 1975 and 1976 914s were essentially the same, though only 2.0-litre cars were built in 1976. Both 1975 and 1976 cars were equipped with rubber bumpers.
Although initially rare in the UK, and with only 11 cars 'officially' converted by Crayford to RHD for Porsche, the 914 sold in greater numbers in the US, and in recent years many of these have been imported to Britain. They are superbly well-balanced cars, light and responsive, and stand out at any car show. However, for any 914 rust can be a problem, starting under the battery in the engine compartment and spreading quickly, and also check sills and front and rear boot areas. Rear ATE brakes also require adjustment very six months or so or will stop working. Body panels and trim are mostly unique and you may have to ship replacements from the US if required.
In terms of value, the 914/6 GT is the most desirable, followed by the 914/6 and other 914 models. All were LHD except the Crayford variants although other companies have converted them, with varying degrees of success. The price guide therefore lists values for LHD cars; add 25% for a Crayford RHD car.