1 IT’S NOT REALLY A PROPER PORSCHE
The four-cylinder 914/4 was intended to be a sporty Volkswagen, the six-cylinder 914/6 the entry level Porker. In the end, the ‘4 was a VW-Porsche in Europe, the ‘6 just a Porsche, and they were both Porsches in the USA. Porsche did most of the development work, the styling was by Heinrich Klie (head of Porsche design) and a lot of bits were borrowed from the 911, including the engine. This didn’t halt the nickname ‘VolksPorsche’, often shortened to ‘VoPo’ – which didn’t please either parent, as this was also how East German border guards were known.
2 IT DIDN’T SELL WELL
The 914 is often thought of as a sales disaster. And while that was true of the 914/6 – just 3332 were made before production ended in 1972 after just three years – the ‘4 did considerably better. 115,646 examples were built between 1969 and 1975, making it the first mid-engined car ever to achieve six-figure sales. Fiat’s rival X1/9 eventually managed 141,108 – but took 17 years to do so, against the 914’s six-year run. So the 914 actually did pretty well for what was quite a specialist machine, no doubt helped by the fact that it was half the price of a decent 911, and significantly cheaper than its six-cylinder sibling.
3 IT’S AN AWKWARD, UN-AERODYNAMIC, ILL-HANDLING SHAPE
The 914 isn’t the greatest looker, but it’s redolent of its era and a surprisingly effective design. Whisper it around 911 fans, but it’s actually better than their favourite, ahem, timeless natural beauty – being four inches lower and having concealed headlamps meant that the 914 had 20 per cent less drag than the 911. A front/rear weight distribution of 46:54 also enabled the mid-engined, wheelin-each-corner machine to easily outhandle the 911, with its engine slung out the back.