I know the Porsche 914 is, to many of the worst kind of Porsche snobs, not a real Porsche. It was even branded in Europe as a “VW-Porsche,” and, more galling, it had a Volkswagen engine. But, there was another version, the 914/6, that had the flat-six out of the 911. This is the version everyone seems to agree is the respectable 914, but when you actually look at the numbers, I’m not so sure.
Let me explain.
Now, sure, early on, the 914 was only offered with either a 70 horsepower 1.7-liter Volkswagen Type 4 engine—an interesting, air-cooled flat-four, but even way back in the early 1970s, 70 was just not a really impressive-sounding number of horses.
The 914/6, with the iconic 911's air-cooled flat-six, made a solid 40 horses more than the base-level 914, putting out a decent-for-the-era 110 horsepower. Sure, that’s better, and the fact that the engine comes from a “real” Porsche does have some undeniable appeal, snob-based and otherwise.
There weren’t any real exterior indicators that you sprang for those extra cylinders and ponies outside of the badge, but you knew what you had, much like innumerable future Craigslisters.
But here’s the thing: in 1973, Porsche introduced a new version of the 914 with another Volkswagen Type 4 engine, a 2-liter, fuel-injected version that made 100 horsepower.
For those of you not endowed with the sort of math skills that enabled me to very nearly pass Algebra II in high school, that’s only 10 HP less than the holy 911 engine they put in there. Only an extra five horses per each additional piston. That’s not much at all.
Even more telling is that the 914/6 and the 914 2.0 both made 116 lb-ft of torque, arguably the more important number for a little 2000-lb, mid-engined tossable go-kart like the 914. Plus, that VW Type 4 engine weighed less than the 911 engine.
So I guess what I’m saying here is that maybe, just maybe, the 914/6, for all its rarity and purity of bloodline and pedigree, doesn’t really deserve all the ardor it gets, and some of that should go to the 914 2.0, with its humble yet surprisingly capable VW four-banger.
Sure, I’m a good 40 years too late for this to really matter, but in case you’re considering investing in your dream 914, I say don’t be lured in by that flat-six. Don’t be a snob. Consider a sports car that shared an engine with one of the slowest vehicles you’re likely to see, a VW Bus.
Remember, it’s only a 10 HP difference.