Posts Tagged ‘vw porsche 914’

The Porsche 914, an Enjoyable Entry-Level Classic

The Porsche 914 was the result of a cooperation between Porsche and Volkswagen (VW), and it was first introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1969. It was a mid-engined sports car, meaning that the engine was placed right behind the passenger seats, a solution that favors handling and agility due to optimal weight distribution. Such a layout resulted in a 2-seater with a removable fiberglass Targa top that, once removed, could be stored in one of the two luggage compartments, the rear one. The two storage spaces were very much needed, since the seating area was strictly dedicated to the passengers. Interior trim was quite basic. Overall dimensions were compact, with a slanted front that incorporated pop-up headlights operated by two electric motors. The design wasn’t pleasant, and it drew criticism also from the press.

The “VW-Porsche 914”, as the car was officially named, was available in two versions: the “914” (also referred to as the 914/4) and the “914/6” (meaning 6-cylinder). The 914 was equipped with the 1.7-liter (1,679 cc), air-cooled, 4-cylinder boxer engine derived from the VW 411E. The 914/6 instead featured the same 2.0-liter (1,991 cc), 6-cylinder, air-cooled, flat Porsche engine that was originally mounted on the Porsche 911T. The VW engine, equipped with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel-injection system, produced 80 hp at 4,900 rpm while the Porsche unit, outfitted with Weber carburetors, produced 110 hp at 5,800 rpm. Both vehicles were equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission as standard (“dog-leg” shift pattern with the first gear positioned left and back). The two cars featured the same independent suspensions. The 914s were fitted with solid disc brakes all around, but in the 914/6, the front discs were ventilated. In perfect 1970s style, the 914s were often painted in bold, bright colors including yellow, orange and green.

On the road, the 914/6 was clearly the better performer, providing stronger acceleration and a top speed of 201 km/h (125 mph), versus the 177 km/h (110 mph) of the 914. However, the more economical 914/4 sold better than the 914/6, but only when maximizing the Porsche name. In fact, marketing of the 914 was not the same worldwide. The 914 was marketed as a “VW-Porsche” and sold through Volkswagen dealers everywhere, except in the U.S. where it was marketed as a “Porsche” and sold through Porsche’s dealers only. The European 914s carried the “VW-Porsche” logo on the back, next to the model number (“914” or “914-6”), while the American 914s displayed only the model number on the back. The American model also had the “Porsche” lettering across the engine lid grille. No matter where it was sold, the 914 did not have the Porsche crest on its hood. Clearly, being presented solely as a Porsche was beneficial to the image of the 914, which sold particularly well in the U.S. (about 70% of the 914 production was sold here).

Although the 914/6 was undoubtedly the better performer, its sales were not satisfactory. Its price tag was simply too high for an entry-level sports car. As a result, its production was phased out in 1972.

In 1973, with the 914/6 gone, a new version was introduced in addition to the “base” 1.7-liter 914: the 914 2.0-liter. This new model was outfitted with a 1,971 cc engine derived from the Volkswagen unit. It produced 100 hp (95 hp U.S. version). The 914 2.0 was particularly welcomed in the U.S., considering that due to the local emission requirements the power on the 1.7-liter 914 had been cut down to 72 hp. Furthermore, in 1973, the gearbox shift linkage that had been often criticized was improved with the introduction of a side-shifter.

For the 1974 model year, the 1.7-liter engine was increased to 1.8-liter (1,795 cc). In addition, both 914s were now equipped with front and rear bumpers featuring protruding rubber guards that could withstand impacts up to 8 km/h (5 mph).

In 1976, the final year of production of the 914, the car was only available in the U.S., which had always been the stronger market for this particular model. In its last year of production the 914 was available only in the 2.0-liter version.