Mid-Engine Fun: 1974 Porsche 914 Project

With Porsche 356 and 911 prices holding steady, it looks like the interest in air-cooled P-Cars is starting shift away from the more expensive cars down to the affordable and fun 914. To be honest, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner, as these cars are an absolute blast to drive and are significantly cheaper to maintain! Reader Dave M bought this 914 project out of Southern California and hauled it up to Fort Klamath, Oregon with plans to restore it but never got around to it. The time has come to let someone else tackle it, so you can find it here on craigslist for $3,500.

So there’s definitely a lot of work to be done to make this Porsche roadworthy again, but it’s fairly complete and solid. These cars have a tendency to rust out badly on the passenger’s side of the car below the battery. Any time the car would get wet, water would wash battery acid down into the battery tray and onto the metal below. While fixing the battery tray, which will need to be done on this one, is a fairly straight forward task it’s the “Hell Hole” and longitudinal that are the real problems. Dave notes that there is a small amount of rust in the Hell Hole, but that the engine tray and longitudinal are both in great shape. He even went as far as jacking the car up to show that the door doesn’t sag and that the jack mount doesn’t bend. I can’t emphasize enough how big a deal that actually is!

In 1974, the 1.7-liter engine was discontinued, leaving buyers to pick between the 1.8 and 2.0-liter engines. Dave notes that the door tag shows that this one was built in late 1973, but is titled as a ’74, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence (we actually has a late ’72 that’s titled as a ’73). The engine is stamped with the EA identification which would make it a 1.7 liter and the fuel injection system is definitely from a 1.7. While the 2.0 is the most desirable engine option, the 1.7 is a bit cheaper to rebuild and is more desirable than the 1.8. Dave bench tested the engine a few months ago and says it ran without any issues. You can see that it’s complete and mounted to a side-shift transmission. Since it’s already out, I would check the compression and if it’s low, I’d go ahead and replace the pistons and jugs with larger 96 mm units to add some extra power.

If you’ve been wanting to get into an air-cooled sports car, but just can’t justify 911 prices, the 914 is really a great option. I wouldn’t call it an alternative by any means, it really is a different animal, but that isn’t a bad thing. These cars are light and incredibly well balanced. With the right setup, you can make them handle light a go-kart and you really can squeeze a lot of performance out of these engines. If this car were a pristine survivor I’d recommend leaving it original, but given that it’s already a project, I’d build it how I want it and drive it like I stole it!

  • Asking Price: $3500
  • Location: Fort Klamath, OR 97626
  • Mileage: 53894 (odometer reading, actual mileage unknown)
  • Title Status: Clean
  • VIN: 47429028

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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    My buddy had a new one back in the day, Lime green? I never drove it but it was sure fun riding along! Chicks loved that car.

  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    If the chassis doesn’t require a whole bunch of money building a bigger engine would be worth while. Being on the west coast there are engine builders from Mexico to Canada who can double the horse power of any of these engines and give you a great street machine. Also, don’t sell the 1.8 short. Our last 914 rebuild used a 1.8 putting out around 130 hp with lots of torque. Suspension modifications really turn this car into fun stuff. Car ran with the 911s on track days.

    Like 3
    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      The 1.8s aren’t bad by any means, they just aren’t as desirable with collectors. If you are buying it to drive and build-up, the 1.8 isn’t a bad option at all. 2.0 cars tend to be better optioned, which could be part of what drives desirability.
      We’ve got a ’73 with a 2.0 block with 1.8 heads and it’s a great combo. We put a 1.7 fuel injection system on it and it has great power and is a blast to drive, but I wouldn’t say it’s a lot faster than our ’74 with the 1.8.

  3. Bobby Longshot

    I bought a really nice, red, 1976 2.0 back in the 90’s. I could drive clear across Washington State on 3/4 of a tank of gas (16 gallon tank). It was beautiful, comfortable, really well balanced, and sounded great. It did leak a little water around the targa top into the passenger footwell so it smelled like and old boat, and the weird upside-down 5-speed shifter was not precise. After college, the clutch burned up and it sat in front of my parents house for a while. I was a schoolteacher and couldn’t afford a new clutch at the time.

    Did you ever notice how much interest people take in trying to convince you to get rid of old, non-running cars? “Hey man, you should get rid of that car/boat/motorcycle, you aren’t using it.” they say, with a suspicious amount of enthusiasm. Well, I got a lot of that about the 914, especially from my fiancé, and I was very busy as a young schoolteacher, so I sold it for $1000, which was probably a fair price at the time, but I sure wish I’d kept it. Fiancé is long gone (on her 5th husband now) and I just can’t find another sweet red ’76 2.0 anywhere. Let that be a lesson to all :)

    Like 3
    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      We’ve got a pretty nice Red ’74 1.8 that we are thinking about parting ways with. It’s not a 2.0, but it’s still a blast to drive and looks sweet!

      Like 1
  4. Tracy

    I have one currently that I restored. It’s a great little car but don’t underestimate the “hell hole” repair. I have about $4000. 00 in my “hell hole” repair and other rust repairs and paint. Mine was does properly with OEM type parts from restoration design. I performed all of the tear down and restoration work which saved me a fortune. Inspect it closely and be prepared for a long ride for this repair unless you have an open checkbook.

    Like 1
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Josh… We put the 2 liter injection on the modified 1.8 and really got a barn burner out of it. Had to build our own runners to the heads but what a difference.

    Like 1
  6. JagManBill

    Had a 72 I sold last year with no longs issues. Took forever to get $100 for it. This guy is dreamin

  7. Seth

    Yeah, I am dreaming…the car sold for asking price one day after this ad.

    We love Barnfinds.com!

    Like 1

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