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Mid-Engine Project Car: 1975 Porsche 914

The automotive industry is ruled by trends.  Right now, SUVs and electric vehicles seem to be the trends that the market is following.  In the seventies, small, relatively inexpensive two-seat sports cars were very popular.  Most were British in origin, but the Italians and Germans dipped their toes into this market as well.  Porsche’s entry was done in collaboration with Volkswagen and was a bit of a sales disappointment.  While the market moved on, many enthusiasts for this mid-engine marvel have not.  If you are looking for a great handling project car, take a look at this 1975 914 for sale on Craigslist in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania.  While the owner has moved on from this 1.8 liter 914 to an earlier 914 project car, do you think this 56,000-mile example is worth the $6,300 asking price?  Thanks to Mitchell G. for the tip!

As a former owner of 1974 914 1.8, this car sets my heart fluttering.  Mine was 1974 914 with a 1.8-liter engine.  I owned it as a teenager, and I loved the go-cart-like handling immensely.  That handling went a long way towards making up for the lack of horsepower and an overheating problem that gave you 30 minutes to get where you wanted to go before the engine got too hot.  Oh, it also leaked a quart of Castrol 20W-50 every single day.  It was not the car I would buy now.  That doesn’t change the fact that I would still like to have one today.

So, let’s pretend 2023 me has left 1989 me and all my automotive naivety behind.  How would I approach buying a 914 now?  My first step would be to look up everything produced by a guy known as Dr. 914.  George Hussey has run a shop called Auto Atlanta for decades.  Once the home of all things 914, the shop now caters to all manner of Porsches.  He has written a book called Tech Tips 700: A Complete Technical Guide to the VW-Porsche 914 and he also co-wrote a book with Brett Johnson titled The 914 and the 914-6 Porsche, A Restorers Guide to Authenticity.  I’d read those books cover to cover, then spend some time on Auto Atlanta’s website looking at the prices for the most commonly needed parts on a 914.  George Hussey has forgot more about 914s than anyone this side of Germany will ever know.  Treat his words as gospel.

Then, if I couldn’t afford the nicest example on Earth to prevent me from spending the same money on fixing up a less-than-perfect example, I’d make a checklist of places to look for rust, wear, and damage.  Any prospective candidate for purchase would need to be put on a lift to thoroughly inspect the floor pans and suspension mounting points.  The heat exchangers would need a good look as well.  I’d look into the engine compartment to see if the car had a lot of damage in the battery tray area and if the original fuel injection system was still there.  Believe it or not, the fuel injection system on my 1974 never gave me a minute’s trouble.  From there an inspection of both cargo areas would be in order.  Look for rust, of course, the condition of the weather stripping, and the hinges where they mount to the body in the rear section.  Don’t forget to look for rust under the vinyl that covers most 914 roll bars.

Inside, an inspection of the dash for cracks would start the festivities.  From there, an inspection of the floor from the topside would be in order.  I’d also look under the dash for any suspect wiring.  Radios have greatly changed since the early seventies, and Porsches don’t react well to wire splices.  Pulling the top off to inspect all of the weatherstripping on it and the windshield would be a good idea.  Make sure the gauges work and look for rust in the screws on the face to see if they have a habit of fogging up.

This 1975 914 would be a good candidate for a closer look.  Nothing screams unrepairable here.  It is a project car that has sat for a long while.  The seller is selling it and taking on another 914 project car.  There may be damage not shown in the pictures.  Or the seller just wants a chrome bumper car.  At any rate, the car is being advertised as a 56,000-mile example that is all there.  The engine turns over but will not crank.  It needs a fuel pump.  It would also be nice to know if it still wears its fuel injection or is a recipient (victim) of a twin carb conversion.  These were very popular back in the day when people feared fuel injection diagnostics.  Other than the short description and the generic pictures, we don’t have a lot of information to work with.

What is it about the 914 that makes some people so crazy for them?  It is the handling.  They are exceptionally light mid-engine cars with a suspension designed by a company that was no stranger to racing.  While underpowered and burdened with styling that people either hate or are lukewarm about, the platform has insane amounts of potential.  If they managed to use the styling of the 904 and installed the hottest 911 engines of the time, the car would have been a legend.  As it stands, they are a well-kept secret for those of us who have owned them.  If you are looking to join the cult, just know what you are getting into.

Have you ever owned or driven a Porsche 914?  Is the juice worth the squeeze?  Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Owned 2, one a bare shell restoration with modifications to the engine and suspension, and an almost invisible AC. Other one was daily work transportation and long range trips. Lots of fun with both and won a lot of autocross trophies. Also restored or built street/autocross cars for customers (5). Fun to drive, fun to work on, especially to upgrade. Car in picture came to us with the right front spindle under the glove compartment. Turned into one of the best cars we ever built.

    Like 8
  2. CVPanther Member

    Well-written article, Jeff. Your passion for these really shows.
    This one seems decent, as 914’s go. Not that far from me, wish I had the space and ability to make it my project.

    Like 4
  3. misterlou Member

    “George Hussey has forgot more about 914s than anyone this side of Germany will ever know. Treat his words as gospel.”

    That’s some good writin’

    Like 4

    I have had a Fiat X/19 and still have (33 years) a modified Karmann Ghia and can’t help but thinking that a 914 would be a great combination of both of them.

    Like 5
    • Harry Kritis Member

      I bought an X1/9 in 1981 (Dec 1980 model) and a high school friend of mine bought the 914 same year (VW-Porsche in EU). First think i noticed was that beyond 50km/h (30m/h) with the roof open there was a very annoying rush of air from above. It was the opposite of the X1/9 that there was almost no difference with open roof to the point that you could travel almost to the same with the closed roof top speed (sign of excellent aerodynamic design). By the same token above 50km/h there was no need for the roof in the rain making it a spectacle for other drivers in the motorway that couldn’t understand its advanced aero design. Also it introduced cooling holes between front wheel wells and lug compartment, a feature that was later perfected by the watercooled 911 with 4 fans for every wheel well. It also introduced the rear diffuser that is now commonplace (at the time people thought of it as an exhaust cooler!)

      Like 0
  5. Chris In Australia

    Worst side marker lights. Ever.

    Like 1
  6. Scott Aumann

    Without a HellHole pix or two – this is not a good ad – the car could be a $900 parts car or a very nice project at this price. But without that wouldn’t drive 25 miles to go see it. I have had 13 so far and have one now – I have been given a couple that you could drop a huge watermelon thru the battery tray and not hit metal before it hit the ground.

    Like 1
  7. Dennis Bailey

    You want handling, but more dependability and power? Get a 2000 or new newer Toyota MR2.

    Like 2
  8. Gary Adler

    Always wanted a Porsche 914 growing up but couldn’t afford one. Had a friend that had one. First car I bought was a Fiat 850 Spider. Later bought an X19. Almost 50 years later we took a rough Fiat X19 and a parts car to make a very enjoyable X19 that rides and handles beautifully. Last year I found a Porsche 914 in the neighborhood that had been locked away for 7 seven years. Needless to say we’re doing a full restoration. Changed color from black to while. Took a 1.8 and turned it into a 2.0. Just received the emblems the other day. Can wait to put the pedal to the metal!

    Like 2

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