The first mid-engine sports car to enter series production was created in collaboration with Volkswagen at the end of the 1960s. The 914 with its four-cylinder boxer engine would become the top-selling sports car of its era.
At the end of the 1960s, Ferry Porsche – encouraged by the success of the 911 – was looking for an opportunity to launch a second, lower-cost sports car series. And he struck gold: a collaboration with VW produced the ‘Volks-Porsche’ model series 914, which had its world premiere at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in 1969.
The underlying model was the 914 with a four-cylinder engine developed by the VW plant. Electronic fuel injection was used to produced 80 horsepower from the boxer engine and its cubic capacity of 1.7 litres. A Porsche five-speed gearbox or four-speed Sportomatic took care of transmission duties. Following the example of the 911, the chassis employed independent wheel suspension on transverse links at the front and the semi-trailing arm rear axle.
The unmistakable two-seater with the characteristic targa top was designed primarily with younger buyers in mind. In terms of quality, finish and equipment, it was to be a true Porsche. This was reflected in the purity and dynamism of the design and construction of this sports car, which had a height of just 123 centimetres and weighed less than 1,000 kilos. Characteristic features included the pop-up headlamps, the vertical indicator unit, a low waistline and the horizontal lights on the rear. The dynamic driving style, low weight and mid-engine design more than compensated for any shortfalls in performance compared to competitors. The 914 immediately stepped up as the king of curves.
With a basic price starting at less than 12,000 Deutschmarks, the four-cylinder version of the VW-Porsche 914 marketed by Volkswagen became a real success. From 1972, front and rear stabilisers and alloy wheels became available, and the option of halogen lights to light the way on those curves was added. From autumn 1973, Porsche supplied the 914 with a four-cylinder boxer based on a Volkswagen engine that had been given an extra 100 cc to bring it to 1.8 litres. With two downdraught carburettors, it reached 85 horsepower. VW expanded its range for the 1973 model year, adding a two-litre engine that produced 74 kilowatts (100 horsepower). To distinguish between the models, they were called the 914 1.7 and later the 914 1.8 and 914 2.0.
By the time the model series was withdrawn in 1976, a total of 115,631 four-cylinder models of the 914 had been produced, making it the bestselling sports car of its time. Most of the cars went to the United States, where the 914 was marketed as a pure Porsche, without the addition of VW in the name.