Porsche had begun the development of a new Porsche model, a two-seater Porsche to replace the Porsche 912. It was designed by Heinrich Klie.
Porsche had been Volkswagen’s research, testing, and development starting with the Volkswagen Beetle and other projects.
Volkswagen’s chairman, Heinrich “Heinz” Nordhoff was very fond of Porsche and their work on the development of the Beetle and many other Volkswagen cars that followed.
Volkswagen and Porsche were developing a new sports car as a joint venture. A new mid-engine two-seater sports car.
In March 1968, Porsche engineers unveiled their Porsche 914 prototype. It was well-received for its stylish body as well as the removable Targa-style roof panel.
The Porsche 914 was a monocoque all-metal body and chassis with four transverse bulkheads for additional structural rigidity.
The stylish body was a complete departure from the Karmann Ghia style bodies of the past Porsche 912. With the Porsche 914 being its successor, Porsche engineers worked constantly on improving the performance and handling of the car. Eventually, the weight distribution and handling were considered excellent.
The original concept car was powered with a 1.7-liter flat-four engine delivering 80hp for the Volkswagen variant and a Type 901/36 2.0-liter flat-six for the Porsche variant. This Type 901/36 engine was recently introduced for Porsche 911T models, and it delivered 110hp.
Volkswagen’s chairman, Heinz Nordoff passed away on April 12, and his successor, Kurt Lotz had no desire to respect his earlier agreements with Porsche. Since Volkswagen owned the project, Porsche was allowed to buy rolling chassis only. Porsche had to develop their own engines and mechanical components to the rolling chassis.
Karmann previously manufactured hardtop Porsche 356 models for Porsche and the Ghia variants for Volkswagen. So, Karmann was chosen to build the bodies of the new car as well.
Karmann assembled the Porsche 914 bodies in their workshops in Osnabruck and shipped the unfinished vehicles to Zuffenhausen.
The Porsche 914/4 variant was powered with a 1.7-liter flat-four Volkswagen engine and the Porsche 914/6 variant was powered with a 2.0-liter flat-six.
Two Porsche 914/8 prototypes were built with eight-cylinder engines, but not developed further for production due to higher cost. These were kept by Ferry Porsche and Ferdinand Piech.
The Porsche 914/6 was pricier than the Porsche 911 T coupe and this resulted in lower sales of the two-seater Porsche 914/6.
With only 3338 Porsche 914/6 sold through the 1972 model year, Porsche discontinued the Porsche 914/6 variant.
Porsche 914/4 variant with its flat-four engine was still available on the market due to its somewhat stable sales.
From 1973 onwards, the engine displacement grew up to 1971cc now delivering 100hp.
Inflation of the DM meant that the price of the 1.7-liter flat-four powered Porsche 914/4 had its price increased nearly 43% from the fall of 1969 and April 1976 or $3050 at the introduction of the car to $6790 in 1976. With dramatically falling sales, the Porsche 914 series was discontinued after the 1976 model year.
Within Europe, Porsche sold the cars badged as Volkswagen Porsche. In the USA, it was marketed by Volkswagen of America. The American cars were just badged as Porsche 914. Across 49 states the Porsche 914 could be purchased from the Volkswagen of America joint venture program, but in California, the car was available only in the Volkswagen dealerships.
The total production of the Porsche 914/4 is measured at 118,646 units.
Additional eleven cars were made under the Porsche 916 designation. These were powered with 2341cc six-cylinder engines derived from Porsche 911S, delivering 140hp. These eleven cars were distributed among the Porsche and Piech family members and a handful of loyal customers.
Porsche 914 as a result of outside-the-box thinking and its strong sales in the US market and European countries meant that it was indeed a commercial success for Porsche.
Porsche 916 on the other hand is one of the rarest Porsche models of all time and is highly demanded by loyal Porsche collectors. From time to time a Porsche 916 appears in the market for sale and usually sells for a six-figure sum due to its rarity.