For classic car aficionados globally, owning an air-cooled Porsche, especially the legendary Porsche 911, represents a pinnacle of vehicular passion. This iconic vehicle stands out as a premier sports car.
Considering an air-cooled 911 purchase? Here's some exciting information: amid the COVID-19 pandemic, their prices witnessed a decline of approximately 5%. Presently, acquiring a naturally-aspirated model (spanning from 911 to 964 and 993) is possible at an approximate budget of EUR 50,000.
As highlighted by Classics World, the market trends for turbocharged variants have stabilized. Whereas a 993 Turbo's price soared beyond EUR 200,000 before the pandemic, you could snag one for nearly EUR 90,000 in 2022.
The bad news is, given the 911’s popularity, these air-cooled cars are most likely to be snapped up soon, so the cycle begins again.
With that in mind, have you considered the left-field choice - the Porsche 914 you see above?
Only 118,000 of these mid-engined, two-seater Targas were made from 1969 to 1976, and if you thought the 911 had an interesting backstory, wait until you read more about the turbulent gestation period the grandfather of the Boxster endured…
Is the Porsche 914 a real Porsche?
The 914 is very much still a proper Porsche, as it was developed by Porsche under Ferdinand Piëch. Its six-cylinder engine was taken from the Porsche 911 T, and cars with the six-cylinder unit were built at the Porsche factory at Zuffenhausen. Things, however, get a bit tricky here. The 914 was a joint project between Volkswagen and Porsche. Dating back to Porsche’s founding in the 1930s, VW verbally contracted the Stuttgart-based carmaker to carry out the bulk of its development work. Due to the length of the agreement between the two German automotive giants, the 914 was set to be the last of these co-projects. VW needed a replacement for its Type 34 Karmann Ghia, and Porsche needed an entry-level car to take over from the 912. It was decided between Porsche and VW, that Porsche would sell the six-cylinder cars as Porsches, and the four-cylinder cars would be sold as VWs. Porsche management took a dim view of this approach, and decided that all cars aimed at the North American market would be sold as Porsches. The 4-cyl cars were sold as Volkswagen Porsches in Europe through VW’s European dealer network. Clear as mud, right? But this is Porsche - the oddball company who has persisted with the 911 for nearly 60 years and made it the go-to driver’s car. Looking through Porsche’s lengthy back catalogue, there’s never been a bad Porsche whether it be a 911, a Boxster, a Panamera, a 928, a 944, or a very early 356. The 914’s featherlight kerb weight of 950 kilograms, rear-wheel drive layout, and eager mid-mounted boxer engine make it more than worthy of the famous Porsche badge.
Did the Porsche 914 have a Volkswagen engine?
From 1969 to 1973, entry-level 914s (914/4) came with a 1.7-litre flat-four Volkswagen motor producing 80bhp. These cars were made at the Karmann factory in Osnarbrück, Germany. The more powerful cars (914/6) used a 110bhp, 2.0L flat-six motor taken from the Porsche 911 T, and underwent construction at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen factory. In 1973, the 914/6 was replaced by the 914 2.0L, which was fitted with VW’s 100bhp, 2.0L Type 4 engine. The following year, the 914/4 was replaced by the 914 1.8, powered by VW’s smaller, 85bhp, 1.8-litre flat-four motor. Porsche also produced a one-off special edition for Ferry Porsche called the 914/8, powered by a flat-eight, 300bhp racing engine. To underline the 914’s motorsport credentials, a 914/6 GT finished sixth overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970. It is also considered the first ‘proper’ Formula 1 Safety Car, after its deployment in the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix.
Is the 914 as fast as an early-era, naturally-aspirated air-cooled Porsche 911?
The quickest 914 was the 914/6, which had 110bhp and a top speed of 129mph. These are comparable numbers to the early 2.0L 911s. The fastest non-homologation, naturally-aspirated 911 of the 914 era was the 3.2L flat-six, which could produce up to 228bhp. Ultimately, none of this matters. History has shown us that small, light cars do not need heaps of power to be enjoyable. All they need is a good chassis, which, being a Porsche, the 914 certainly has. Further cases in point include the Mazda MX-5 (or “Miata” if you don’t live in Europe), the FIAT X/19, the 914’s grandson, the Porsche Boxster, the Lotus Elise, and the Toyota MR-2.
Was the 914 a mass-produced model by Porsche?
For the most part, the bulk of cars made by Porsche are mass-production models. Even the most famous name in Porsche’s line-up, the 911, is no exception to this rule with over 1,000,000 of them produced to-date! Between 1969 and 1976, a total of 118,978 914s were made. The bulk of these cars were 914/4s, with a total of 115,646 of them rolling off the production line. Meanwhile, just over 3,000 914/6s were produced. Only two of the high-performance 914/8s were produced, meaning it is the rarest 914. One of these resides in the Porsche Museum. Furthermore, most 914s were sold in the United States, where it was voted Motor Trend’s Import Car of The Year in 1970. During its lifespan, the 914 also outsold the 911 - keep that piece of trivia for the next time an ‘automotive’ round comes up in your local pub quiz!
How much would a Porsche 914 cost me today?
Our estimates show that a 914 can be picked up for as little as around EUR 10,000. However, please note that these cars will need a lot of love and investment to restore them to their original glory. A tidy 914 sits around the EUR 25,000 mark. For something fully restored in Grade A condition such as the 1969 914/5 you’ve been looking throughout this story, expect to pay upwards of EUR 30,000. This car - for sale with Gallery Aaldering - is marked up at EUR 38,950.
Should I buy a Porsche 914, then?
This all depends on what kind of car you like. If you are looking for a small, classic mid-engined sports car made by a pedigree manufacturer, then a 914 should rank highly on your list. What’s more, its complex history (this was not an easy article to put together - Editor!) and relative exclusivity for a Porsche means it’s a curiosity for those who like their cars to be a little obscure. Most importantly though, the 914 is an affordable way into air-cooled Porsche ownership. Oh, and did we mention pop-up headlamps?
1974 Porsche 914-6 GT - Jay Leno’s Garage
A special thanks to Gallery Aaldering for allowing us to use the photos of this stunning early Porsche 914 for this story. To take a look through their entire catalogue of classics and youngtimers, click these three words.