Myth Buster

Porsche 914

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Contents - Richard Gunn

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.

VW-PORSCHE 914

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