Throughout time and history there is always some form of dick when it comes to screwing things up. The hideously unattractive Porsche (or Volkswagen) is one of them.
Ideally designed and dreamt up as a much needed model for both companies, the Porsche 914 was intended to replace the long running Karmann Ghia (Volkswagen 914/4 ), and a low cost, Porsche branded sports car (914/6) to compliment the 911 of the same era.
A gentlemans agreement was made between Ferdinand Porsche, and then head of VW, Heinz Nordhoff. The deal was that Porsche would develop and design a car for VW, that would be compatible with a 4-pot type-4 VW powerplant. VW would then market it as a VW, but with Porsche allowed to build a 6 cylinder version of this, and sell it as a Porsche.
Before the entire deal could come to life, Heinz Nordhoff passed away, and his successor (the dick), Kurt Lotz, decided he will not have any of it. The terms of the deal changed. Porsche lost out on any marketing rights in the US, and settled on a joint marketing venture, selling the 914 as a VW-Porsche 914 in Europe.
Karmann still produced the bodies for Porsche, and assembled with the 4 cylinder variants, while sending the bodies only to Zuffenhausen for Porsche to produce their 914 6-pot variants.
The problem, was that through some very complicated, and dodgy cost accounting, Lotz managed to make these bodies so expensive for Porsche, that the low-cost sports car idea never really came into play. The 914 was only a fraction cheaper than the superior 911.
High prices, poor marketing, and a rack of negative reviews made the demise of the Porsche 914/6 possible. There is good news however. Shortly after the demise of the 914/6, Kurt Lotz was asked to leave after putting the company in red.
The 6 cylinder variant was dead, but a 2l 4 cylinder option became available in 1973, making roughly the same power and having roughly the same performance figures as the 6 Cylinder. The much loathed gearbox was also worked on. Critics loved these changes, claiming it was what the 914 should have been when it started off its life.
Sales was successful, but many agree this is one Porsche that really shouldn’t carry the name, until you drive it.
The interior was very Porsche-esque. Big VDO dials, small steering wheel, superb road holding, and a rush of adrenaline only a mid-engined sports car can give you. The suspension, brakes, and some of the details came directly from the 911. The cabin was comfortable, even for tall people. It had sufficient storage space, even with the Targa Top removed, and the built quality was exceptional, the kind you would expect from Porsche.
In many ways one can argue this was the successor to the Boxster series (the true Boxster, not the stupidly named 718 Boxster we currently have). It offers true sports car thrills without the fuss that goes along with it. Its just a pity it’s so damn ugly.
Image source: www.motoringresearch.com