Canyon Carving In A Low Mile Porsche 914

This showroom-fresh ‘teener gives Matt Farah fits and starts thanks to the altitude, but drives like a dream once going

byBradley Brownell| PUBLISHED Jan 20, 2017 10:47 AM
Canyon Carving In A Low Mile Porsche 914

Porsche's 1970s mid-engine runabout, the 914, is difficult to explain to anyone who has not driven one. The car, in its day was a revelation, it out-handled many cars costing much more money, and even with less than 100 horsepower was capable of taking down giants. The unique styling of this car, and the uninspiring Volkswagen-sourced Type-4 engine, conspired to give the 914 a bad reputation among Porsche enthusiasts for decades. Porsche produced a couple hundred thousand of these in-period, however, so they certainly filled a niche that resonated with buyers at the time. These days nice examples are getting harder to come by, and something as clean as this beautiful-in-blue machine is worth far more today than it was even five years ago.   

This late-production 914 was originally sold with a 1.8 liter fuel-injected engine. According to the current owner, one of the car's first caretakers swapped out the Bosch EFI for a pair of carburetors, threw in a larger set of pistons and cylinders, and a slightly hotter camshaft. The carburetors were tuned for near sea-level down in Los Angeles, but up in the canyons north of the city, the carburetors contribute to a finicky driving experience that the EFI would have compensated for. In any case, the car's demeanor in the video makes Matt Farah look like an amateur driver, which couldn't be farther from the truth. Having driven several 914s, I can tell you that a 901 gearbox in a 914 is one of the vaguest shift experiences ever, though an early "tail shift" 914 is worse yet. The late rubber bumper cars are perhaps the least desirable of 914s, but this one looks pretty good with a bright contrasting blue to offset the large impact bumpers. 

It's good to note that even though the car gave Matt troubles at the very beginning, once he got a handle on the thing, he really starts to like it. Just a week prior he'd remarked that a new Cayman GTS was slow, but somehow this underpowered VW-motor 914 promoted a different mindset to give him a good time and a smile on his face. It's hard to not smile in a 914, they're just so endearing.