The Porsche 914
The Porsche 914, a mid-engined sports car, was a joint venture between Porsche and Volkswagen from 1969 until 1976.
The original concept was to replace Porsche’s 912 with a cheaper and less 911-like model, while Volkswagen wanted a car vastly different from the Beetle, Bus, and Fastback. However, after the death of VW Chairman Heinrich Nordhoff in 1968, his successor Kurt Lotz made significant changes to the deal.
Originally, Porsche was to sell the six-cylinder version of the 914 while Volkswagen would market the four-cylinder cars. However, the new agreement dictated that the 914 would be marketed as a Porsche in the United States and as a VW-Porsche in Europe. Coachbuilder Karmann would assemble the 914, with bodies for the six-cylinder cars sent to Porsche for engine installation.
The car debuted at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show and was a blend of both companies’ parts bins. The front suspension was mostly derived from the 911 with some VW components, while the interior was a combination of both companies’ parts. The initial engine offering was Volkswagen’s 80-hp fuel-injected 1.7 liter flat four, while the 914/6 had a twin-carburetor 2.0-liter Porsche flat six tuned for 110 hp.
Though some publications panned the car’s oddball styling, balky shift linkage, and slow acceleration of the four-cylinder car, the six-cylinder car struggled due to its high price. Volkswagen’s deal with Porsche meant that the 914/6 was nearly as expensive as the entry-level 911, and after selling a mere 3,349 copies, Porsche killed it in 1972.
In its place, the ’73 914 got an optional 100-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder along with a smoother-shifting transmission, and in 1974 the 1.7-liter engine was replaced by an 85-hp 1.8-liter, with all four-cylinder engines featuring fuel injection. However, stricter emissions standards in 1976 led to the end of production.
Despite being dismissed by some as a glorified Volkswagen, the 914 has gained more appreciation in recent years for its unique styling, enjoyable driving experience, and easy maintenance. Nearly 119,000 copies of the 914 were sold by Porsche and Volkswagen.
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