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Air-Cooled Garage Find: 1968 Porsche 912

The arrival of the Porsche 911 in 1963 changed the automotive business forever – an inflection point that we best appreciate in hindsight. But the existence of the 911 prompted one unintended consequence immediately: the 356 – Porsche’s mainstay – was instantly less interesting. Unfortunately, the new car was too expensive for many Porsche customers, running the risk that the company would lose its downmarket niche. What to do?

The answer was on the podium: the 911’s seductive body could carry the flat-four engine from the 356. Development was completed in 1965, and the 912 was launched. Downgrading a few of its creature comforts and offering a four-speed standard – rather than the 911’s five – kept the price under control. Belying its popularity back in the day, the lesser-motored car was scorned by collectors for years, but recently that has changed in dramatic fashion, and deservedly so.

Compare a 1968 912 to a ’68 911T: the 912 is about 300 lbs lighter while its motor provides 91% of the horsepower of the T. The 912 was more tossable and in some situations, faster than its big brother. Here on eBay is a 1968 Porsche 912 project car, bid to $25,100, reserve not met but with several days to go in the auction. You’ll need a trailer to retrieve this car from its garage in Montebello, California.

The engine is a 1.6-liter flat-four, originally delivered with twin Solex carburetors, making about 100 hp and in this case, paired with a five-speed manual. No word regarding whether this is a matching numbers car, but the seller does say it’s been sitting without running for at least two years. The starter was recently replaced in an attempt to resurrect the motor, but whether that worked is unknown. Prospective buyers should note that the 912 flat four can be built to be more powerful than a 911 in factory tune.

The interior is decent though faded. The seat upholstery is torn and stained here and there. When the 912 first arrived, it was equipped with just three gauges. In 1967, a five-gauge set became standard. This car’s trunk offers room for improvement, but the rear end is neat enough with good panel gaps and shiny paint.

Unfortunately, the seller notes that the car does have floor rust, some of which can be seen in this photo. Tough to know how extensive the problem is, but assuming the worst is usually wise. The car does have a few virtues, but plenty of information that Porsche lovers care about is missing. What would you want to know before tossing in a bid on this one?


  1. sisuman Member

    When 912s were cheap, restoring them was also cheap. The main concern 25 years ago was rust. Engines and transmissions were available and inexpensive. But now an engine rebuild can easily cost well over 10K. The point is, you now have to look at everything on a car like this. There are no more good used engines for a couple of grand. And used transmissions no longer available for a few hundred bucks. Having said that, it’s a beautiful car. If one could get it into driving condition for a few thousand dollars it would be a lot of fun to own, while doing a rolling restoration over time.

    Like 14
    • The Purple Defender

      A lot of other cars around for a lot less money. To me they have always looked like an upside down bathtub. Why not just fix up a Bug for a small fraction of the cost? You get the same over all feel of the car, plus an engine that is easier to buy, find, and soup up.

      Like 5
      • George Member

        While the Bug and 901 Porsches share a common “ancestry,” The construction is quite different.

        The 901 Porsche has a unit body, the Beetle is body on frame. The Porsche’s suspension made of far higher quality parts, and many of the components are cast. The Beetle’s A Arms, etc, are stampings. The steering, shifting, etc are simply more precise.

        I bought a ’68 912 for $600 in 1982, and another one for about the same for parts. With the VW, it’s a sensible exercise in making a mass market car. With the Porsche, I found my self wondering if there was a division in accounting dedicated to adding costs

        Watching the car go back together was an education in the quality of the parts used to make the car.

        Like 7
      • Stu Member

        Yes, what George said. The Porsche motors evolved with better metallurgy than the VWs. Spending a pile of money to hop up a VW motor is a short term thrill compared to building a Porsche motor that will stay together for a lot longer.

        Like 2
  2. Kurt Member

    I have always wondered how the 912 engine produced twice the hp of the identical displacement Super Beetle engine. From this ad it would appear that dual carbs has a lot to do with it but from a mechanical perspective I still can’t understand the difference between the engines.

    Like 7
    • Rtdreep Member

      Interesting question, Kurt! I had a 1972 Super Beetle, and am looking forward to hearing frim the Bug experts here.

      Like 3
      • Kurt Member

        Somehow the 912 engines design allows for higher compression ratio without overheating. Probably a different cam profile than the Super engine which has a fairly long duration. Less time on the valve seat would allow some of the compression to bleed off. The intake manifold and heads may allow more flow through as well. And the exhaust really looks different too.

        Like 6
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Take a 912 cylinder head and set it next to a VW head and you will see the difference. Everything is bigger and can be made even better than it was. We built a 912 powered ’59 roadster race car and without much effort or money we had 125 hp and a dependable engine. 1800 cc upgrade is another good move for power.

      Like 7
  3. james jamespbandy

    Et al,

    Am driving, now, a l969 912…expense…so what..it is a Porsche…go figure. My rebuilt engine was over $13,000.00 a few years ago….Cranks are very expensive….and they’re not Volkswage….

    Vive la Panhard

    Like 9
  4. Heck Dodson Member

    Give me an American 60s car any day. But my first and only Euro/ Exotic car was a 1971 Porsche 911T. It was a driver, survivor so no restoration or rebuilds involved. Dependable 2.4 L six cylinder with factory AC. Sweet little car. I don’t think I’d want to buy one that wasn’t running and a driver.

    Like 4
  5. Joe Meccia Member

    My 912 story. 40 plus years ago, I was driving and restoring British cars and BMW 2002’s. I always liked the 912 simply because it was a 4 cyl yet it looked like a 911. I got my opportunity. I found a running 68 912 that was in decent condition (paint not so good) for $1100. I thought: ” I can afford that!” There was only one major problem ( that I knew of) with the car. It needed two front fenders. I thought: “Fenders can’t be too bad!” Wrong!! Back then I priced the fenders and they were quoted at $600 each. So much for my Porsche endeavor….. Still like those old 912’s… simply and uncomplicated!!!

    Like 7
  6. Neil R Norris

    Anybody else love to see this car made right by Mustie1? …

    Like 0
  7. Jack Quantrill

    How do people find these gems? I gots to know!

    Like 0
  8. Troy

    I would love to get my hands on it just to get it running and driving again i have a 1968 auto repair book that covers multipe cars includingv the beetle. I will have to open it again to see if it covers this car. I would wind up divorced if I dropped that much money on a toy, pushing retirement age keeping stuff in savings and over $25k on this without knowing if I could get a nice return would be a hard pill

    Like 0
  9. Michael Brunt

    I have had a few 356 over the years.
    Now retired,I wanted another.Well as we all know,you need at least 100 k for something nice.
    I bought a clean 1970 karmann ghia coupé.Modified the suspension,4 wheel discs etc.I bought a 912 engine which I took apart and revealed.Had a custom stainless steel exhaust made,rearranged the tin pieces,put the battery under the rear deck all for 30k!
    I am very satisfied with my porschewagen…oh I bought a pair of cheap chinese webers,the car never ran so well,yeah and it scurries

    Like 2
  10. Greg in Texas

    Jerry Seinfeld gonna squeeze in just one more! You know you can’t resist Jerry!!

    Like 0
  11. Paul Alexander

    I bought a 1967 912 in ’73 for only $900. It was in need of tons of TLC, having been neglected for years. One of the best cars I ever owned. Unfortunately, it was stolen at just about the point where I had everything working perfectly. If that hadn’t happened, I’m pretty sure I would still have it. Later on, I had a ’56 356. Good car, but not as nice as the 912. The Porsche 4-banger motors seemed to be bulletproof and had plenty of power.

    Like 0

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