Back in the mid-60s Volkswagen was looking for a successor to its then rather outdated Type 34 sports coupe, better known as the Karmann Ghia. At the same time Porsche was striving to expand its position in the market with a sports car in the promising segment beneath the 911. Facing this challenge Ferry Porsche and VW’s CEO Heinrich Nordhoff agreed in spring 1966 on a joint venture destined to benefit both parties. Porsche was given the assignment by Volkswagen to develop a low-cost mid-engined sports car intended to enter the market as a Volkswagen with four cylinders and as a Porsche with a six-cylinder boxer engine.
With the development process of the new car was continuing at a good pace, the Board of Management of VW was suddenly confronted with a tragic change. Heinrich Nordhoff died unexpectedly in 1968 and Kurt Lotz was appointed the new Chief Executive Officer. Lotz rescinded the contract agreed verbally and insisted on Volkswagen receiving the sole and exclusive sales rights for the car being developed by Porsche. After long and tough struggles bringing the 914 to the brink of failure more than once, the two companies agreed in a compromise to call the new car the VW-Porsche and to market this new model through a joint sales network.
The VW-Porsche 914 was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 11 September 1969 as the first mid-engined sports car built in Germany in series production. Two models were available. 914 was powered by a 1.7-litre, 4-cylinder, 80 horsepower engine from the VW 411 E, while the more powerful 914/6 had a 2.0-litre, six-cylinder, 110 hp engine borrowed from the 911 T. With its mid-engine design, 914 was a well-handling car that could be driven fast around the bends. Although being a sports car, the 914 offered also everyday usability with lots of luggage space. The car had two luggage compartments, one of which could also hold the removable Targa roof. 914 was only a two-seater, but an extra cushion could be added to turn the 914 into a three seater. The 914 could be ordered with interesting colour choices, like lemon yellow and signal orange.
In 1973 the 914/6 model was dropped, but there was a new 2-litre, four-cylinder, 100 horsepower engine available for 914. In the USA the two-litre engine model was reduced to just 95 hp by the statutory exhaust reduction measures and the 1.7-litre version delivered just 72 hp instead of the original 80. Modifications to the 1973 models included, a 7 cm shorter rear skirt, continuous matt black bumpers and an improved gearshift mechanism, which had often been subject to criticism. For an additional charge a luxury package was also available to order. It included velour carpets, sports steering wheel, central console with clock, oil thermometer and voltmeter, leather sleeve for the gear stick, two-tone horn, roll bar with vinyl covering and chrome surrounds. The sports package included alloy wheels, stabilisers on the front and rear axles and halogen headlights.
The 1974 versions could be distinguished by the colour of the headlight surrounds which were now black rather than white. All 914s were now supplied as standard with sports wheels and three-point safety belts. The 914 2.0 now also had a composite glass front windscreen and vinyl-covered roll bar, which was previously an optional extra. The car had also acquired a new drive gear. The capacity of the 1.7-litre engine was increased to 1.8 litres with an extra 5 hp making it 85 hp.
1976 was the last year for 914. This last model year was sold only in America and only with the two-litre engine. The only visual difference to the previous year’s model was the rear logo which was now made of black adhesive film. A total of 4,075 exemplars of the 76 model were manufactured before the production ended in spring 1976. The four-cylinder 914 was a genuine success accounting for a total production volume of 115,631 units. Most of the cars built were exported to the United States, where the 914 was marketed as a genuine, fully-fledged Porsche without the VW prefix.