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This 1974 Porsche 914 is loud, obnoxious, and charming

Go ahead, ask. Tyler Hauptman loves this question. Of all the possible Porsches to inspire his passion, why on earth is he so enthusiastic about the 914?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/27/why-i-drive-porsche-914
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The quirky looks and simplicity has always appealed to me…and I’m not generally a Porsche fan. I even unsuccessfully tried to talk my dad into letting me buy a 3 liter when I was 17. Still think about getting one to scratch that itch someday.

“Everywhere I go, I bring the ruckus,” he says. “The car is loud, it’s obnoxious, it pops, it makes people startled and unsettled. But at the same time has a pretty lovely charm…

I have a highly modified signal orange 1970 GT running a 3.2L DME with a 901 side shift transmission. I understand exactly what Tyler means. Its relatively simple nothingness captures everything. There’s nothing to assist (or even comfort) you, but when I want a true connection to driving, it’s the car I always go to. Drive a well-sorted 914, and you’ll quickly realize they weren’t the product of failed engineering. With the technology of their day, they were a Boxster/Cayman 30 years ahead of schedule.

Thank you for this installment of Why I Drive! It’s exactly why I drive…

I had a high-school buddy whose girlfriend owned one, in that bright cobalt-blue.
He shows up at my house in it, sans girlfriend, and took me for ride I’ve never forgotten. He took 90-degree turns without braking, as if he was trying to get the car to flip. Amazing!
Two trunks, too! That was back in 1972, and I’ve wanted one ever since.

I would have to agree on choice, having owed many 911’s over the years the 914 was my final keeper. Mine is also a GT, steel flairs, 9 inch Fuchs and a 3.2 DME/side shifter. I had to get myself down to one Porsche and chose the 914 because in my opinion was just a more involved fun car to drive. The handling is terrific and when I want to feel like you are really driving a car, not just pointing it etc. this modified 914 does it. When other “911 people” asked why not just get a 911, I can no longer say well I also have a 911 but prefer my 914, so now it will be…oh well most would not understand unless they drove one.

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Author Aaron McKenzie needs to do some fact checking on the above quote. Karmann did NOT design the 914 - nor did Gugelot, despite other misrepresentations by other authors of supposedly authoritative Porsche books.

Porsche designed the 914 for & as a joint venture with VW, for a sports car to replace both the Karmann Ghia & 912, which JV VW eventually backed out of in 1974. The 914 is Porsche design & engineering through & through, which - like it’s predecessor 356 - borrowed from the VW parts bin to keep them a more affordable sports car.

The 914-6 & 914/4 bodies were all BUILT by Karmann, who also built some of the 356 & 911 cars for Porsche - then Karmann finished the 4 cylinder models, & shipped the 914-6 body shells to Porsche where they were finished in Stuttgart.

The 914 production stopped after 1975 (1976 MY) because another sports car designed initially for VW/Audi, with a water cooled engine for more flexibility in meeting USA & California emissions standards, came along & was produced on the Karmann line. That was the 924, followed by its 944 & 968 derivations.

Cheers!
Tom

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I agree. Thanks Tom for clearing this up. I bought one of the last 914s in 1976 that came in through NY (no cat converter). I still get exhilarated every time I take her out. -jim

Well, I’m not the only one! Have two 914’s, one I’ve had since new (original owner) and both will always stay in the family as both my boys luckily inherited the “car gene.”

Back in the day I loved beating 911’s in autocrosses as when I first joined PCA in the winter of 1970/1971 many didn’t want 914’s in the “club.”

Still brings a smile every time I drive either one…

I’m the 2nd owner of my 73 2.0 since Dec. 1975 (it was 1st sold Nov `72 in SoCal), & I have a 74 2.0 body shell for the resto/repair of mine - so 2 in & 1 out. I hope to get back onto the resto again this year, after some other projects are done - so I can again enjoy driving it!

Between the NARP 911/912 & some 356 owners (NARP = “Not A Real Porsche”, for the uninitiated), my business, & playing Rugby all of my spare time in the 1970-96 timeframe - I too never joined PCA until 2009.

Now most members love the 914s here in Zone 8, & many 911-992 owners once were 914 owners, some of whom are looking to get a 914 again! So it’s full circle now for the most part.

And yes, as others have said, even with a Flat-4 our mid-engined 914s can out turn just about anything of the era, & most up to today.

Cheers!
Tom
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PS - For those interested, 914world.com & 914club.com have a lot of 914 info, & worldwide membership.

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I had a ‘74 914 2 liter in the day. My girlfriend bought it for me, with my money of course, since I was so disappointed in the Fiat Spider I had at the time. Still have the girl but wish I still had the car. It was without a doubt the most fun car I ever had. I went to 911s after that, and still have an ‘85 Cabriolet, but the 914 was the shit.

I’ve never driven a 914 but I started on Porsche’s with a 98 Boxster and “moved up” to an 07 911 to find that I was disappointed with the handling compared to the more basic Boxster. The 911 was more like a touring car in terms of feel and I missed the cornering of the Boxster so I went back to a 13 Boxster for a while. Now I’m in a 2016 Cayman where I think I’m staying. If the opportunity comes along to get behind the wheel of a 914 though, who knows what might happen!

@catrischler - Thank you for the sharp eye and comment. You are correct, it should read “Karmann-built” as you suggest. We will have a correction up ASAP.

From a former Winger (about 6 seasons), great post. And you risk blowing my previous opinion of PCA members. :wink:

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My 49 year old mother suddenly showed up with a new orange one in 1974. Great handling but always remember that you could really fell the ac compressor activating!
Leo

My 914 was possibly the best car I ever owned. I bought it new in 1971 as I entered the service. It was my daily driver for 17 years, with virtually no issues. I drove the wheels off the thing. Autocrosses, road trips, etc. The odometer quit at about 175,000, and I drove it 5 years after that. It probably had over 250,000 miles on it when I sold it for $500 less than what I paid for it new! Underpowered? Yes, but great balance, handling, brakes and transmission. Wish I still had it! But living in Florida with no a/c prompted a change. So I upgraded to a used 928. That’s another story.

Jim-R - Mostly at Scrumhalf for me. I played 4 years in undergrad college, 1 on a 2nd Div SoCal Club, 10 on a SoCal 1st Div club, then 11 more for our Old Boyz - for a total of 26 years.
There are quite a few 914 owners on those forums I’d listed who are also former Ruggers, especially with the overseas members such as in NZ, Oz, UK.

lynnelec - “…but the 914 was the shit…” -
LOL - I’ll assume that means “the best” - as in groovy, bitchen, cool & hot!

vcminc1980 - Better start looking soon, as they’re going up in price fast. Hagerty has a 74 2L listed at $50K & Bonhams at $80-100K No Reserve coming up - but both are extremely low mile garage queens. Even so, those are astronomical prices for the 4’s, whereas the 914-6s in top condition have been north of $100K for some time.

leo.brady - “Great handling but always remember that you could really fell the ac compressor activating!”

for Leo, Dave Mathias & others - there are newer rotary compressors available now to update or add AC to 914s etc., which only “rob” 1-2 HP - vs. the 5-8 HP of the old school VPC & DPD AC systems with the York compressors, all of which were dealer installed BTW. So you can still have decent power with AC - without resorting to the “ole Monkey Ward 2-55 AC” (for the young-uns reading, that’s “roll down 2 windows & drive 55 mph” ;-). You should also do or update to R134 Freon at the same time.

davemathias68 - I similarly daily drove my 73 914-2.0 from 1975 - 85 for about 132K miles, & she had 45K of DD use by the original owner when I got it in 75. I’d done a mechanical & cosmetic rolling resto/rusto in 1980-83 with the intent of another decade of DD & fun use, but in May 1985 my 914 was whacked in a parking structure while in grad school classes, & she went into our garage with a fresh drivetrain/rolling stock/etc., & I’m hoping to repair & restore back to like new again soon.

Cheers!
Tom
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Which is why I have 2 of them.

I have had 5, 914s over the years. Only 1 was a 916/6. I really enjoy the 72 - 74 1.7 engine cars. They are fun :heart_eyes: to drive, have way more trunk space than most sports cars and the will get an honest 34 mpg on a trip. My only gripe is they leak in the rain. The FI is wonderful until it goes bad.:heart_eyes:

His left front marker and one of his left rear tail lights are out. He wouldn’t pass inspection in the State of Missouri! On a more serious note, I had a 914 in the early 1970’s when stationed at RAF Upper Heyford while in the Air Force. I bought it for $5K and sold it to the insurance company for $4K after I hit a patch of black ice near High Wycombe. Still wish I had it, along with the 2002 tii and the Kawasaki Mach III that I let get away for nothing…those were the days!

The 914 was also my first car I had. I loved it so much it so much I bought a new 74 2.0.
The car was blast to drive and I will always miss that car. I currently have a 99 Boxster.