THE BAVARIAN BARGAIN: THE PORSCHE 914
During our market research last week for our write up on the Fiat X1/9 (Click here for the full article) we found a German cousin to the Italian thoroughbred. This car was too rear wheel driven. Its engine also sat behind the driver but before the rear axle; mid-engined for those playing the home game. And to top it all off it’s top could come off like the Fiat X1/9. But whereas the Fiat was designed and assembled in Turin; the focus of this week’s article hails from Stuttgart.
The Porsche 914
The Porsche 914 started as a jointly developed project between Porsche and Volkswagen. Both German auto manufacturers were looking to update their line-ups. Porsche needed to replace the 912; which was a watered-down version of their 911. While Volkswagen was looking for something to update their top dog, the Karmann Ghia.
Porsche headed up the design and development. One motor was supplied by Volkwswagen for theirs and another motor was supplied by Porsche… obviously for the Porsche. The VW was going to have a 1.7L that produced 80 BHP. Porsche took their wimpiest engine; a 2.0L 6-cylinder and choked it up even more. They slimmed the exhaust, and narrowed the carbs. Then the blokes at Karmann were contracted by VW to build the rolling chassis’s.
The Kerles (Dude in German) at Porsche had been doing the designing for VW for years and it was a part of a deal the original owners of the companies agreed upon at their inception. This is a great deal for Volkswagen. Volkswagen got decades of Porsche designs and engineering. But things changed with the 914
Destined to Fail
What changed was that Porsche became weary about the 914. They were fine with designing Volkswagens but the 914 was going to be rebadged as VW and sold alongside Porsche’s identical example. The only difference was that the Porsche would have a flat six cylinder engine and the VW would have a flat four cylinder.
In some brilliant negotiating, Porsche got both the four cylinder and six cylinder versions to wear a Porsche crest. One being called the 914/4 and 914/6, respectively. Porsche would not have to worry about the Volkswagen out selling their example. Volkswagen would even help with the production costs for a cut of the profits.
But this made the ground underneath the 914 hollow and precarious. Once the regime changed at Volkswagen, the new leadership didn’t agree that Porsche should have sole claim to the design DNA of the 914. VW pulled their contract with Karmann. By 1969, Porsche was carrying the entirety of the weight of the 914 production costs. Being a smaller, boutique brand, the MSRP of the 914/6 was not much less than the 911T.
Not one person in their right mind would buy a 914 for $6,000 when you could get a 911T for $400 more. This resulted in Porsche only selling 3332 914/6’s during its production. But as we always try to highlight, failures and missed targets become bullseyes tomorrow. That’s why the 914 has been featured twice on Bespoke Car Broker in the past.
THE LAST LAUGH
As we stated in our TOP 10 BEST CARS TO BUY NOW and in our in the last 3 years, the unmolested concours cars have broken well into the 6 figures, a spike of 40% to 100%. My advice would be to try to get a 914/6 first and get it restored slowly, or find a respectable 914 and do what Ferdinand Porsche intended and drive the hell out of it. If you maintain it properly you can still turn a respectable profit. The 914 pictured above sold for $93 grand.
Now the VW DNA that once made people gawk at the 914 is what people love about it now, namely because VW parts carry VW prices. You can expect a much lower cost of ownership than any other vintage Porsche. The 914 is more 911 than anything else.
This is a mid-engined, air-cooled, horizontally opposed motor. Those 3 aspects have been Porshce’s key for their racer cars like the 550 Spyder, the 904, 906, 907, 917; all legends and all have the same configuration. I am reaching quite a bit with the comparison but the point still stands.
This car sits you down on the asphalt, the engine, whether the flat-four or flat-six, pops, bangs, and revs to a hilarious level. With the targa top stowed away, it is sensory overload. And Porsche intended it that way.
It wasn’t their flagship car, all prim and proper like the 911. It was more akin to Frankstein’s monster. Hobbled together with parts from different companies and manufacturers. And like Mary Shelley’s creation, it stands on its own. Misunderstood, misrepresented, the 914 is finally having its day. And we will be kicking ourselves for not snapping up every single one we could.
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- https://auto.howstuffworks.com/porsche-911-history7.htm ↑
- https://www.hagerty.com/media/hagerty-magazine/best-collector-cars-to-buy-now-2020-bull-market-list/ ↑
- https://www.bespokecarbroker.com/top-10-best-cars-to-buy-now/#Porsche_914_(914/6*) ↑
- https://www.bespokecarbroker.com/top-10-best-cars-to-buy-now/#post-2265-footnote-13 ↑
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