The 914 is the Porsche that most sports car enthusiasts turn up their noses at. Let’s face it, the 914 isn’t the most beautiful Porsche in the world, with its flat surfaces and angular styling. It looks unpretentious, unattractive, and was generally unloved by many. But is that a fair criticism to make about a car that sold 119,000 units, small fry for VW perhaps, but quite impressive by Porsche standards.
Roy Smith, an author who has an impressive list of good books behind his name, sought to delve into the little-known history of the 914’s motorsport history, an aspect of this car that few know much about. This book constitutes the first comprehensive study of the Porsche 914 in competition, and covers the complete development of the factory GT and privateer cars.
The 914 began its life back in 1967 at a time when the Porsche 911 was just getting established in the market. At this time, Porsche only had a single model in its product range, the 911, and so to go into partnership with the mighty VW organisation seemed like a good move. It would also get the name of Porsche known more widely internationally, as the joint venture VW/Porsche model would enjoy the sales and marketing backing of the bigger company. VW on the other hand, benefitted from having a car in its range that was designed and engineered by the respected sports car manufacturer, Porsche.
It didn’t take long though for Porsche enthusiasts to realise that the 914 offered encouraging potential as a race car with its mid-mounted engine, and so it’s competitive life began in Europe in 1970.
Smith has done an excellent job in researching the achievements of the 914 in competition across not only a variety of different races, but also in many different countries. He has also assembled an impressive collection of photos, race posters and programmes, scrutineering paperwork, newspaper cuttings and letters to make this a very interesting read.
Of course, the 1970 Marathon de la Route, an epic 86-hour test of endurance for both man and machine like no other, saw a trio of 914/6s finish 1-2-3. This feat made some of the model’s critics sit up and take notice, and this chapter in the car’s history is well covered by the author.
Before getting into the meat of the book though, it would be worth turning to the back where the author has recorded the results of the 914’s motorsport achievements. Although it is not recommended practice to start at the back, but to just see the number of high profile events where the 914 competed, helps to put the model’s achievements into perspective. This record of results covers 33-pages and includes circuit racing, endurance racing, rallying and hill climbing in both Europe and the USA. A quick glance through the driver’s list reveals names such as Larrousse, Haldi, Marko, Steckonig, Juncadella, Kremer, Doren, Gregg, Haywood, Holbert, and many more. Some of these names would of course become synonymous with Porsche endurance and prototype racing in the years that followed. Suffice it to say, the 914 surprised many with its handling and performance.
The style of the book is written in Roy Smith’s familiar, enjoyable and easy to read manner. If you are a Porsche enthusiast, and you are looking for a good read to while away those dull, cold winter nights, this book could be just what you are looking for. But be warned, this book only has a print run of 1500 copies, so make sure you get yours, it will surprise you on many levels.
Author: Roy Smith
Publisher: Veloce Publishing Ltd
First published: October 2016
Dimensions: Hardback – 24.8 x 24.8cm
320 pages – 452 colour and B&W photos
Written by: Glen Smale