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50 years of 914: The predecessor of the Boxster and Caymans

PORSCHE 914 PHOTOS: PORSCHE / SOTHEBY'S

In the early 90s, Porsche was in a difficult time. It was one of the last sports brands that had not yet been absorbed by a large business group. Sales did not exceed 20.000 units a year. Much of the turnover was achieved by selling technology to other companies. And yes, even though 911 he was still a living legend ... Its price did not allow it to compete with Japanese sports cars. In sum, Porsche was in danger.

Afortunadamente Harm Lagaay He had returned to Porsche in 1989. He was the one who in the 70s designed the controversial 924. Criticized by the most purists, this manageable and affordable sports car with a front engine and gearbox transaxle saved the accounting of the company. If it hadn't been for this model, perhaps the same purists who reviled it so much would never have been able to enjoy the new 911.

Once again on a rescue mission, Lagaay came up with a small roadster that should cost about half the cost of a 911. Casual, agile, easy to drive but without losing a certain amount of rage ... And all this organized around a central engine of opposing cylinders. Following these ideas, Porsche presented a prototype at the 1993 Detroit Motor Show. And after the good reception the Boxster finally saw the light three years later.

porsche 914 50th anniversary
Porsche 914, fulfilled the same function as the Cayenne but with much more style

This model has been a resounding success for the brand, but it was not born out of nowhere. Just 50 years ago Porsche already launched -together with Volkswagen- a two-seater that contained everything that the Boxster would later be. And also in similar commercial circumstances. We are talking about the 914, the first standard sports car equipped with a mid-engine.

LOOKING FOR NEW CUSTOMERS: THE BIRTH OF 914

By the end of the 60s Porsche had the 911 project. The model was already settled, leaving the days of the 356 behind. The 911, however, was not exactly a cheap sports car. Porsche needed to produce a more affordable car in order to sell more and make the accounts add up. Just then Volkswagen was looking to replace the antiquated Type34 "Karmann”, So the union between these two brands with a common past was served.

Together they screened a two-seater aimed at a young audience. In addition, the North American market was in the sights. He had quite liked the 911 there, but its price set it apart from a large segment of drivers eager to acquire a playful European sports car. With its popular prices the 914 was just going to fill that gap. And yes, it did: 118.995 units in just seven years of commercialization.

Yes, by a whisker! And the fact is that the sudden death of Heinrich Nordhoff - VW's director - almost sent everything to the ruin. His replacement -Kurt Lotz- did not see the pact very clear, which was finally solved by establishing a consortium whereby the 914 would be sold in Europe under the VW-Porsche label and in the US simply as Porsche.

MORE PORSCHE THAN VOLKSWAGEN?

In the same way as 924, the 914 has commonly been thought of as a Porsche. And without a doubt it is. However ... Although the development process was in the hands of the sports brand with the engineer Ferdinand Piëch - Ferdinand Porsche's grandson - at the helm ... The truth is that most of the 914 have a Volkswagen engine. This is due to the two versions of the model: the 914/4 and the 914/6.

The first rode a four 1 liter cylinders, which equipped injection for the first time in the history of Volkswagen. This newly designed engine delivered 80CV and was assembled with the rest of the car at the Karmann bodybuilder's facilities. The second fitted the 911T engine: a six cylinders of two liters and 110CV. In addition, the 914/6 was built in the Porsche factory itself.

The 914/4 version sold 115.646 units, while the 914/6 only 3.349. This is logical since the 914 came to cover the step below the 911, and not to offer a different body under which the same engine was hidden. So yes, the 914 is eminently a four-cylinder Volkswagen mounted on a Porsche chassis. Another wonderful union between these two brands with so much past in common.

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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