While Hans Christian Andersen’s ugly duckling did turn into a beautiful swan, the same transformation can perhaps not be said for today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe 914 with its Mitcom Chalon body kit. Its beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but will its price be as well?
America is a nation of wretched excess. Whether it’s our movies, our political grandstanding, or even our fast food, we like things to be unflaggingly over the top. That’s why yesterday’s 2010 BMW X5 M should have fit in our social zeitgeist like an oversized ass in a Walmart helper cart. Hell, it was even built in Greer, South Carolina, which I’ll have you know is in America.
Instead, you greeted that 550 horse SUV with derision, calling into question not just its potentially questionable durability but its mere existence as well. All that vitriol didn’t seem to affect its $16,995 asking though, and in fact it triumphed with a 57 percent Nice Price win.
You know another car that once had its very existence questioned? That’s right, the Porsche 924. The first production car from Porsche to feature a water-cooled and front-mounted engine, the originally-intended-to-be-an-Audi 924 initially didn’t find many friends among the faithful. It didn’t help that the 924 was introduced in replacement of one of the most interesting, and most accessible models in Porsche’s history, the 914.
One aspect of the 924 that most agreed placed it ahead of the 914 was in styling. The earlier car was, by most opinions, not a beautiful sight to behold. The 924, on the other hand, was said by some to be “too pretty to be a Porsche.”
Today’s 1971 Porsche 914 1.7 has had some work done to address what some might say is a deficit of visual pleasures. That’s been by way of a Chalon body kit from Los Angeles, California-based Mitcom Incorporated.
Now defunct, Mitcom was a manufacturer of automotive body-sculpting accessories from the late ‘70s through the ‘80s. Want a Porsche Turbo whale tail for your Celica ST? They had you covered. If you caught your 924 being too pretty, they’d handle that too. They could even slantnose your 911, or turn it into a reasonable semblance of a 959. Mitcom had it going on.
Obviously, they They aren’t doing any more, but cars like this 914 serve as evidence of their work. That work was accomplished in fiberglass, and served to elongate the car, replace the B-pillar buttresses with scalloped covers, and flare the ever-loving bejeezus out of the four fenders. The bumpers, strangely enough, were designed to emulate the five-mile per hour insurance company-mandated units on the 911.
It should be noted that the Chalon was pretty a one-way ticket. That’s because the rear fenders required cutting to fit the spaced wheels under those new, wider flares.
This one doesn’t look to fill its arches appreciably. The Riviera wheels are a pretty common choice for 914s, but somehow look out of place here. They seem unpleasantly sunken like an Oliver orphan’s hunger-widened eyes.
Above those is a body that’s resplendent in arrest-me red. That hue oddly extends to the molded-in gaiters for the faux bumpers, perhaps a nod to them not actually being all that attractive. Massive, and also phony, bumperettes are painted black though. The bodywork looks to be in decent shape, and the car is distinctive to say the least.
The interior is a little less successful. The dash wears a carpet cap, which is no doubt hiding the myriad of cracks that these old German dashboards regularly suffered. Like a bad toupee it’s not fooling anyone.
Seats and back panel are in good shape and appear to be out of a later car as both thrones are adjustable. The factory ’71 interior would have had the passenger seat molded into the backrest, and a movable footrest instead of a separate seat. Of course, if you’re going for authenticity, then this isn’t the 914 for you.
Behind those seats sits a Volkswagen-sourced 1.7-litre flat four. That was good for 80 horsepower when new and here happily sports its factory fuel injection. This was one of the first electronically controlled FI systems offered on a production car and while it can prove finicky, with proper maintenance and some fiddling it should work just fine. Backing up that modest mill is a desirable 5-speed dogleg gearbox.
The ad notes the addition of a ‘Momo “Prototipo” steering wheel’ but the tiller visible in the pictures is a Grant GT late of some neighborhood Pep Boys accessories aisle. The ad also describes the driving experience for you:
This Porsche starts easily with good running original fuel-injected engine, solid braking and tight suspension. There is a noticeable steering shake over sharp bumps and first gear is difficult to engage due to stretched cable linkage.
That of course is your typical good with the bad scenario and to be expected when buying a nearly 40-year old classic. Should you be interested in that purchase you should know that the asking price is $9,950, which in 914 terms is middle of the road. Here that buys you a clean title, a seemingly rust-free car, and the bragging rights to having one of the few Chalons out on the road.
Ah, but is that worth bragging about? Or, does the aftermarket aspect of this early 914 make it worth less than a stock car and hence perhaps not worth that $9,950 asking?
H/T to Todd Rabusin for the hookup!
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