Although some might say that the Porsche 914 was nothing but a bastard child made to replace the aging Porsche 912 and the VW Karmann-Ghia, we simply love its design, and the whole idea of a Porsche two-seater made for the masses... even if it only had 80 horsepower.
While we anxiously wait for the forever soon-to-come sub-Boxster to present itself, let's look at something that was even a better idea: the Porsche 914 hatchback made by the French in 1969.
The development of this rare beast went rather fast in the late sixties. Dr. Ferry Porsche's cheap sports car went on sale in 1969 and this concept was ready in time for the 1970 Paris Motor Show. Work for the car started at Brissonneau & Lotz, a company which is making industrial cranes these days instead of weird prototypes for the automotive industry. One of the guys on their payroll was Paul Bracq, who put down his mark by designing the BMW Turbo to celebrate the 1972 Summert Olympics in Munich. Before that, he worked for Mercedes-Benz, creating classics such as the Mercedes 600.
Another guy working there was Jacques Cooper. Born as Jack Cooper in the UK in 1931, he learned a few things about locomotive design under the wings of Raymond Loewy, the guy who was also responsible for the timeless Studebaker Avanti.
Cooper did some sketches of a Porsche 914 hatchback, and got the green-light after showing them to the heads of Brissonneau & Lotz. They were planning to use the more powerful six-cylinder version of the base for the new car, as 120 horsepower sounds better in French as well. For a second, it seemed like sudden financial difficulties would end the project before it could even start, but instead of giving up, Cooper took his design to Henry Heuliez.
You might know Heuliez as the producer of the Peugeot 206 CC's roof mechanism, or the Opel Tigra Twin Top. They are in the specialist coach building business since 1920. With their help, Cooper finished his 914/6 Murène Concept in time for the Paris Motor Show in October. Whatever the crowds in Paris might have felt, Porsche wasn't interested in putting the French version into production.
Cooper went on to design the French supertrain TGV and his ideas led to the distinctive nose shape we all know, which he found easier to come up with than the train's interior.
The only Murène prototype was first painted two-tone yellow, then repainted to orange in 1971. After the show, it was put into storage, only to be restored by Heuliez Historic recently to be put up for auction at the 2012 Le Mans Classic. It sold for about $55,000.
Next time you find yourself thinking about turning your Boxster into a Lamboxster, maybe consider a hatchback?
Photo Credit: Heuliez Archive