VW still had strong ties with Porsche in 1969. Both companies stem from the same VW beetle, constructed by Professor Porsche, forming the basis for all Porsches until then. Both of them contributed parts, keeping the price competitive. The company Karmann joined as a third member, for designing the body. The co-production must have been successful, because these firms still today engage in joint projects.
How it works
Middle-engine sports vehicles are not new to Porsche.This is due to the fact that it is relatively easy to turn engine and transmission by 180°.Nowadays, the Porsche-Boxster is a case in point.In the case of the 914 it concerned the 59 kW (80 bhp) 1,7 L-VW-engine or the 914/6 with a 81 kW (110 bhp) six cylinder engine from the 911. In the year 1972/73 two engines were added, a63 kW- (85 bhp, 1,8l) and a 74 kW-version (100 bhp, 2l). All of these engines were combined with five-speed manual gearboxes and drives from Porsche. The first four cylinder was not extraordinarily fast, but managed 180 km/h due to its aerodynamic body. The 2L four cylinder (VW) is not comparable to the six cylinder(Porsche), in spite of similar performances.
More interesting than mere figures, was the handling of the car in bends. Today it might be astonishing that the 914/4 from 1969 stood on 'just' 155 mm broad tyres, be it with a rim diameter of 15 inches. The suspension was rather comfortable. The small tyres did not need a lot of stabilizing effects. It was rounding bents with quite a bit of inclination for a sports vehicle, but surprisingly high speed. The wannabe brothers Opel GT and Ford Capri were still equipped with rigid axles in the back. Thus, the 914/4 was a car especially suited for country roads. If nevertheless the driver in his optimism exceeded the car's high level physical border, it performed a gyration, because the masses of the car were situated close to the yaw axis.
By the way, transaxle-vehicles with balanced weight do not show this effect.
The Porsche was a Targa-two seater, and not suited for carrying a lot of luggage. The car did have two luggage compartments, the one in front short, but deep, provided the spare wheel was moved to the back, the one in the back was large, yet its size declined almost to zero when the roof was opened. Additionally, the back compartment tended to become warm from the exhaust system. It was well suited for smuggling though, as a lot of custom officers could not tell the difference between the luggage compartment and the engine compartment.
There was a separate opening for the engine compartment. It did not help much. Adjustment of the valves had to be done from below. Being an opposed cylinder engine, it did have a central camshaft, but the engine was already equipped with one of the first electronic petrol injections.(D-Jetronic)The position of the battery might seem akward, above the engine on the right side member. If it was to leak some acid or became very hot, it threatened the stability of the body. Maybe this is the reason why only very few 914/4 are left.
The lucky person that had just bought such a Porsche did not worry about it.The bucket seats did not provide a lot of support at their lateral edges. The passenger seat was fixed, the footrest adjustable. The ignition switch was located to the right of the steering wheel, although the traditional position in Porsches was to the left. The park brake was arranged to the left of the driver's seat. In the middle there was in theory enough space for a third person. The first 914 of 1969 did not have a center console (see picture 2) and - opposite to the picture - no plated bumper.
Driving was the real fun part. The engine did not exhibit a sporty boom, yet it conveyed trust, and was not noisy. The gear stick was endurable, provided that it had to be led around the engine to reach the transmission. Even with open roof the vehicle did not show too much self-dynamics.
Extraordinary about the 914 was as well that some of them, due to wear or an accident, had a difference in resistance for actuating the left and right headlights. When switched on, they opened up, but with different speeds, thus one reached the switch-off contact earlier than the other, causing the other to retract and open again, until they were synchronous again. On the highway this was sometimes helpful as other cars would free the path, either due to confusion or surprise.10\06