The Porsche 914 or VW-Porsche 914 was a mid-engined, targa-topped two-seat roadster designed, manufactured and marketed collaboratively by Volkswagen and Porsche from 1969 to 1976.
By the late 1960s, both Volkswagen and Porsche were in need of new models; Porsche was looking for a replacement for their entry-level 912, and Volkswagen wanted a new range-topping sports coupe to replace the Karmann Ghia. At the time, the majority of Volkswagen’s developmental work was handled by Porsche, part of a setup that dated back to Porsche’s founding; Volkswagen needed to contract out one last project to Porsche to fulfill the contract, and decided to make this that project. Ferdinand Piëch, who was in charge of research and development at Porsche, was put in charge of the 914 project.
Originally intending to sell the vehicle with a flat four-cylinder engine as a Volkswagen and with a flat six-cylinder engine as a Porsche, Porsche decided during development that having Volkswagen and Porsche models sharing the same body would be risky for business in the American market, and convinced Volkswagen to allow them to sell both versions as Porsches in North America.
On March 1, 1968, the first 914 prototype was presented. However, development became complicated after the death of Volkswagen’s chairman, Heinz Nordhoff, on April 12, 1968. His successor, Kurt Lotz, was not connected with the Porsche dynasty and the verbal agreement between Volkswagen and Porsche fell apart.
In Lotz’s opinion, Volkswagen had all rights to the model, and no incentive to share it with Porsche if they would not share in tooling expenses. With this decision, the price and marketing concept for the 914 had failed before series production had begun. As a result, the price of the chassis went up considerably, and the 914/6 ended up costing only a bit less than the 911T, Porsche’s next lowest price car. The 914/6 sold quite poorly while the much less expensive 914/4 became Porsche’s top seller during its model run, outselling the Porsche 911 by a wide margin with over 118,000 units sold worldwide.
Volkswagen versions originally featured an 80 PS (59 kW; 79 bhp) fuel-injected 1.7 L flat-4 engine based on the Volkswagen air-cooled engine. Porsche’s 914/6 variant featured a carbureted 110 PS (81 kW; 108 bhp) 2.0 L flat-6 engine from the 1969 911T, placed amidships in front of a version of the 1969 911’s “901” gearbox configured for a mid-engine car. Karmann manufactured the rolling chassis at their plant, completing Volkswagen production in-house or delivering versions to Porsche for their final assembly.
914/6 models used lower gear ratios and high brake gearing in order to try to overcome the greater weight of the 6 cylinder engine along with higher power output. Suspension, brakes, and handling were otherwise the same. A Volkswagen-Porsche joint venture, Volkswagen of America, handled export to the U.S., where both versions were badged and sold as Porsches, except in California, where they were sold in Volkswagen dealerships. The four-cylinder cars were sold as Volkswagen-Porsches at European Volkswagen dealerships.
Slow sales and rising costs prompted Porsche to discontinue the 914/6 variant in 1972 after producing 3,351 of them; its place in the lineup was filled by a variant powered by a new 100 PS (74 kW; 99 bhp) 2.0 L, fuel-injected version of Volkswagen’s Type 4 engine in 1973. For 1974, the 1.7 L engine was replaced by a 85 PS (63 kW; 84 bhp) 1.8 L, and the new Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was added to American units to help with emissions control. 914 production ended in 1976. The 2.0 L flat-4 engine continued to be used in the 912E, which provided an entry-level model until the 924 was introduced.
The 914 was Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year for 1970. A 914/6 GT piloted by Frenchmen Claude Ballot-Lena and Guy Chasseuil won the GTS class and finished sixth overall at the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans. Brian Redman used the 914/6 to scout the course in practice runs of the 1970 Targa Florio circuit.
|Manufacturer||Porsche (Type 914/6)
Karmann (Type 914/4)
|Also called||VW-Porsche 914|
|Assembly||Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, West Germany
Osnabrück, West Germany (VW-Porsche)
|Body and chassis|
|Layout||Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Related||Porsche 914-6 GT|
|Engine||1.7 L H4
1.8 L H4
2.0 L H4
2.0 L H6
|Wheelbase||2,450 mm (96.5 in)|
|Length||3,985 mm (156.9 in)|
|Width||1,650 mm (65.0 in)|
|Height||1,230 mm (48.4 in)|
|Curb weight||940–995 kg (2,072–2,194 lb)|
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia