Rebuilt Engine and No Rust: 1975 Porsche 914 1.8

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As we are all well aware, the Porsche 914 was born under a heavy thundercloud of controversy.  Maligned as not being a true Porsche due to its Volkswagen engine and some of its parts, the purists derided the car without mercy.  While missteps were made, the 914 was (and is) far more than the sum of its parts.  Just ask anyone who has road-raced a 911 against a 914 with a similarly powerful flat-six in its engine bay.  The mid-engine design of the car itself was all Porsche and was to be another line for the automaker to develop.  Sadly, that did not come to pass.  When the assembly line finally stopped in 1976, over 118,000 of these sports cars were built.  While rust, accidents, and fires have robbed us of most of them, there are still a few survivors in great condition out there.  This 1975 Porsche 914 is possibly one of the best of them.

The story of this car is quite remarkable.  This garage-kept Porsche has been under the care of just two owners.  During the 49 years since it was built, the car has been garaged and well cared for.  During that time the car has traveled just 29,000 miles.  The current owner, seemingly unable to believe that, asked the original owner about that number and it was confirmed to be true.  For Porsche 914 lovers, this is almost a unicorn.  Most 914s were driven hard and not given the white glove treatment that 356s and 911s usually enjoy.

Furthermore, the car is said to be a “turn-key” car.  everything from the pop-up headlamps to the dash lights works.  We can also see that the car came from the factory with the vinyl-covered roof buttresses and fog lamps that usually accompanied the Appearance Group package.  However, it lacks the center console with three additional gauges, so these option boxes must have been checked individually.  Another fantastic addition to the car is the Mahle cast aluminum wheels which greatly complement the optional Palma Green paint.

That Palma Green paint is getting a bit thin on the hood.  Looking closely at the pictures, it appears that the car wears its original paint.  It is hard to find a 914 with its original paint in still presentable condition.  The paint from the factory was notorious for being thinly applied, and I have seen examples where overzealous owners have polished the car to the point that the primer underneath was revealed.  The good news is that the primer was good enough to take a shine as well.  Besides the thin paint, the seller tells us that there are a few small rock chips and blemishes on the car.  The most remarkable revelations are that the body panels are in great shape, there is no accident damage, and the seller says that they cannot find any rust on the car.  For a 914, this is almost too good to be true.

Inside we see that there is some damage to the passenger-side seat cushion.  The seller tells us that the material is getting to be a little thin, and that is true for the centers.  The vinyl-covered seat bolsters are, however, still in great shape.  The cloth inserts will likely need to be recovered to return them to their seventies colors.  Other than that, the door cards are said to be perfect, the windows crank up and down with no issues, and the dash is amazingly crack-free under that carpet cover.  The door rubber is in good shape and the targa top latches up tightly and does not leak.  For those who have never owned a 914, the Targa top is exceptionally light and easy to manage.  It lifts off and fits perfectly in the trunk behind the engine without taking up much of the cavernous space provided.

One of the few negatives for this car is that it is a 1.8-liter engine instead of the more desirable 2.0-liter flat-four.  While it is likely you won’t feel too much difference when you floor the car, it does matter with the 914 crowd.  Once you get past a small difference in horsepower, the fuel-injected 1.8 is a solid engine that runs with little fuss as long as the engine’s cooling fins are free from debris.  This one was treated to a complete rebuild just 300 miles ago including all new sensors for the fuel injection.  We are told that the engine was bored out during the rebuild, but are not given solid numbers on just how much.  We are also not told why the rebuild was necessary.  However, the laundry list of components that were replaced and the fact that the fuel injection system was retained and refurbished are all signs that the new owner will not have to worry about mechanical maladies for a while.  Documentation from the rebuild will be provided with the car.

As if all of the above wasn’t enticing enough, the car comes with a few additional prizes.  First is a set of European spec bumpers and brackets to convert the 1975-1976 specific rubber safety bumpers to the earlier chrome type.  The seller claims that this kit costs $2,600 if purchased new.  Another neat treat is the full set of Porsche factory repair manuals for 914s.  When was the last time you saw a set of these?

In closing, if I were looking for a 914, this would be a car I would fly out to see in person.  If it is as good as the seller states, you would be hard-pressed to find a better example.  The 914 Porsche is a car that needs to be purchased in the best condition possible.  The small parts are ridiculously expensive and there are plenty of them.  You can quickly spend 911 money on a rough car and still be deep underwater.  A car this nice is both a treat and an investment despite the 1.8-liter engine.  Even if you decide you don’t like it (you won’t), sit on it for a few years and get a good return on your money when you flip it.  Porsche prices aren’t going down any time soon, and good examples are always in heavy demand.

If you have been looking for a 914 that will need very little additional work, then this 1975 Porsche 914 for sale on Craigslist in Portland, Oregon may be the Holy Grail car you have been searching for.  This garage-kept, rust-free unicorn with a rebuilt engine is being offered at a very fair $10,500.  Thanks go to Tony P. for sending us this tip and thanks to Scotty G. for remembering my love of 914s and passing this car on to me.

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Our 2nd and last 914 came with the 1.8 engine and with larger jugs and pistons, good street cam and a 2.0 liter fuel injection we pulled just under 120 hp out of it. This is a nice car and if they put in the 2.0 jugs and pistons in it should be a good runner. The way I work if I bought the car the early bumpers would be on the car the very next day. Fun cars.

    Like 9
  2. Scotty GilbertsonStaff

    That’s such a great article, Jeff, well done! At 6′-5″ tall, I’ve always wondered if I’d fit in a 914, either my legs or my head with the Targa attached, but this is the car I’d want. Nice work, sir!

    Like 9
    • Christopher

      @Scotty: it depends on how leggy you are. Headroom is surprisingly good. I’m 5′ 9″ with really short legs and a long torso (I’m eye-to-eye with 6+ footers while seated) and the 914/914-6 is a perfect fit for me.
      In contrast, I can’t drive a stock ’80s 911 without drastically reclining the seat; I needed to move the seat so far forward to reach the pedals that my head hit the sun visor on the 911SC I once drove for work. It’s worth a try, they really are excellent little cars

      Like 4
  3. Jack M.

    This car looks like a real bargain. Nice find Tony Primo!

    Like 6
  4. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    Beautiful looking car. I don’t get the controversy surrounding the Porsche 914. I’ve always loved the Porsche 914. So what if it shared parts from Volkswagen. I would’ve thought that’s been the case throughout the 1960 through to the 1980s. If I was old enough at the time to drive a car, I would love to have taken the car for a drive.

    Like 5
    • Harry KritisMember

      In EU the 914s as far as i know, were wearing a statement below the doors that red ‘VW-Porsche’. This added to the controversy and the fact that Porsche dealerships were not allowed to sell them. In contrast the X1/9 was sold through Ferrari dealerships in Europe.

      Like 2
      • Car Nut Tacoma Washington

        And why was that? Why was VW not allowed to sell their cars at Porsche dealers?

        Like 1
      • Harry KritisMember

        2 different companies, 2 very different public images plus 914 initially had a VW engine and that was enough reason for Porsche not to show them.

        Like 0
  5. PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

    This color always reminds me of a green chiclit.

    Like 3
  6. Karl

    There were five stock 914’s at the Westmont, Illinois Cruise Nite, last Thursday (06/27)!!!
    Get one while you still can!

    Like 1
  7. Mike O.

    I had a 1972 914 2.0 back in the early 1980’s. It’s funny we use to call it the BMW beater. Had an odd shift pattern. First gear was to the left and down. Heater had a blower on it. I’d for a vw type setup. Drove like a go kart. I miss it. Every time I see one it brings back good time memories. Easy to work on. Now I drive a BMW z4.

    Like 0
  8. Greg G

    Looks like a very nice restoration of a already solid car but a total rebuild of a engine at 29k miles and having that engine bored out just seems a little odd but that’s just my inquisitive side. All and all this is a very presentable 914 and well worth the ask to me. Hope it finds a good home.

    Like 1
  9. Brad Chipman

    Good price,it won’t last long.

    Like 0

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