1. home
  2. news
  3. The Porsche 914: History, Generations, Model Changes, and More

The Porsche 914: History, Generations, Model Changes, and More

All things Porsche 914 on Automobile.

Porsche 914 Essential History

The Porsche 914 was originally conceived in the mid-1960s as a joint venture between Porsche and Volkswagen. Porsche wanted to replace its 912 with something cheaper and less 911-like, while Volkswagen was looking for a halo car vastly different from the Beetle, Bus, and Fastback. It seemed at the time like a match made in heaven, and the mid-engine targa-top two-seater that resulted was perfect for both marques. All was proceeding well until the death of VW Chairman Heinrich Nordhoff in 1968; his successor, Kurt Lotz, dictated major changes to the deal.

Originally, Porsche was to sell a six-cylinder version of the 914 while Volkswagen would market four-cylinder cars. The new agreement dictated that the 914 would be marketed as a Porsche in the United States and a VW-Porsche in Europe. Coachbuilder Karmann would assemble the 914, with bodies for the six-cylinder cars shipped to Porsche for engine installation.

The car that debuted at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show was, as intended, a true conglomeration. The front suspension was largely derived from the 911 with some VW components, and the interior was a blend of both companies' parts bins. The initial engine offering was Volkswagen's 80-hp fuel-injected 1.7 liter flat four, while the 914/6 had a twin-carburetor 2.0-liter Porsche flat six tuned for 110 hp. (Some contemporary magazines erroneously reported horsepower figures of 85 and 125, respectively.)

Reaction to the car was lukewarm. Some publications panned the oddball styling, balky shift linkage, and slow acceleration of the four-cylinder car (the 0-60 mph time was in the 12 to 14 second range). MotorTrend was among the car's fans, and named it the magazine's first-ever Import Car of the Year in 1970, with the editors calling it "one of the best-handling machines any of us had ever driven" (MT, June 1970). They even praised its styling, reminding readers that the 911's "locked-in fastback shape was of the '60s," and continuing, "The car underscores better than anything else the shift in automotive design influence out of America. Here we were in one of the first contemporary vehicles of the '70s and it had nothing to do with Detroit or the UAW or Yankee ingenuity."

Though the four-cylinder 914 quickly found its niche, the six-cylinder car struggled. Volkswagen's deal with Porsche meant that the 914/6 was nearly as expensive as the entry-level 911, and after selling a mere 3,349 copies, Porsche killed it in 1972. In its place, the '73 914 got an optional 100-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder along with a smoother-shifting transmission, and in 1974 the 1.7-liter engine was replaced by an 85-hp 1.8-liter, with all four-cylinder engines featuring fuel injection.

The end came in 1976 as stricter emissions standards came into play. When production ended, Porsche and Volkswagen had sold nearly 119,000 copies of the 914.

The ensuing decades were not overly kind to the 914, with many gearheads (particularly Porsche enthusiasts) dismissing it a glorified Volkswagen. But regard for the 914 has been building in recent years, not just because of its rarity, but because people finally appreciate it for what it is—a uniquely styled car that's enjoyable to drive and easy to maintain—at least by Porsche standards.

Porsche 914 Highlights

For many years, the design of the 914 was thought to be derived from a technology proof-of-concept car built by Gugelot Design. However, a 2020 interview with Michael Mauer, Porsche's chief designer, asserts that the 914 was an in-house design influenced heavily by the 550 Spyder.

While four-cylinder 914s had their ignition key on the steering column, the 1970-71 914/6 had its ignition switch on the left side of the dash, just like a 911. For 1972, the 914/6's last year, it used the same column-mounted key-slot as the four-cylinder cars.

The 914 did not get fore-and-aft adjustment for the passenger seat until 1973. Instead, 1970-72 cars had an adjustable footrest.

The 914 was supposed to be replaced by the water-cooled 924, but when 914 production ended the new car still wasn't ready. In order to fill the gap, Porsche put the 912 back into production as the 1976 912E, making the 914 one of the few cars that was replaced by the model it was intended to replace.

Porsche 914 Buying Tips

Positioned as a budget sports car, the typical 914 didn't receive the service and attention that well-to-do Porsche owners lavished on their 356s and 911s. Lackadaisical maintenance, badly-executed carburetor swaps, and shabby engine and body modifications are among the pitfalls that await 914 buyers. Rust was also an issue, as it was with many cars of this era. Some parts are becoming scarce, and a low-cost "fixer-upper" has the potential to turn into a money pit.

Some four-cylinder cars have been refitted with six-cylinder engines, which is a mixed bag—the bigger engine definitely adds usable power, but it also adds about 120 lb of weight, which throws off the handling balance of this one-ton lightweight. A swapped-in six adds to the price, but the lack of originality will likely have a detrimental effect on value over time.

Remember, the 914 may have the soul of a Volkswagen, but many parts are Porsche-priced. Buy the best working and most original car you can find, even if that means stretching your budget.

Porsche 914 Articles on Automobile

The 914 was long gone when David E. Davis started Automobile, but as the no-boring-cars people, we've been fans of the 914 for many years.

We were hip to the 914 before the 914 was cool.

You knew about the 914/6—but did you know there was a 914/8?

Porsche 914 Recent Auctions

In late 2018, a 914/6 sold for nearly $100,000.

Recent auctions from Bring A Trailer:

Porsche 914 Quick Facts 

  • First year of production: 1969
  • Last year of sales: 1976
  • Original base price (1972): $4,545
  • Total sales, 914/4: 115,596
  • Total sales, 914/6: 3,349
  • Characteristic feature: Slow but well balanced and big fun to drive
  • Read more: 50 Years - Porsche 914 by Jurgen Lewandowski

Porsche 914 FAQ

What is the best year Porsche 914?

Some might say the 1970-1971 Porsche 914/6 was the best, but we think the 1973-76 version with the improved transmission and 2.0-liter engine is the best buy.

How long is a Porsche 914?

The Porsche 914 is 157 inches (13 feet 1 inch) long.

How much is a Porsche 914 worth?

The 914 is rapidly building an audience and prices are on the rise. For now, a four-cylinder 914 in pristine shape can still be had for less than $20,000. You should be able to find running cars in the $3,000 to $6,000 range and rebuildable cars under $2,000. The 914/6 trades for three to five times as much as a 914/4. Beware of six-cylinder swaps that cost more but don't necessarily add to the car's value.

Who built the Porsche 914?

The Porsche 914 was developed as a joint project between Porsche and Volkswagen. The cars were built by Karmann in Germany, though 914/6 models were shipped to Porsche for engine installation.

Porsche 914 1.7 Specifications

ENGINE 1.7L DOHC 8-valve I-4/ 79 hp @ 4,900 rpm, 97 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD targa
EPA MILEAGE  N/A mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 156.9 x 65.0 x 48.4 in
WHEELBASE 96.5 in
WEIGHT 2,072 lb
0-60 MPH 13.9 sec
TOP SPEED 109 mph