Both Volkswagen and Porsche found themselves in need of a new model in the late 1960s. Porsche needed to develop an entry-level replacement for the 912, while Volkswagen was seeking a top-of-the-line sports coupe to replace the Karmann Ghia coupe. The idea for the project came from Ferry Porsche himself, with the goal of giving young drivers an inexpensive entry into the world of Porsche. An agreement was made that dated back to the founding days of Porsche as a manufacturer had Porsche handling the majority of the development work for Volkswagen. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was head of the design studio at the time, and he and his team were called upon to lead the 914 Project. Heinrich Klie was one of Ferdinand Alexander’s most trusted staff members and was largely to credit for the final design and development. Despite visually being a radical departure from the 911, its form is decidedly Porsche. Its low-slung body and mid-engine layout draw inspiration from one of the greatest Porsche models ever produced- the 550 Spyder. Today, the 914/6 has become a desirable and highly celebrated classic Porsche model.
The 914 was sold by both companies in two different configurations. The standard 914 offered with Volkswagen’s 80 horsepower flat-four-engine and the 914/6 powered by 911T’s 2.0-liter, 110 horsepower flat-six. The additional horsepower and torque of the flat-six earned the 914 a reputation as a highly capable sports car with outstanding handling, a point bolstered by the Works-prepared GT versions campaigned at Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring, and the Nürburgring. Nevertheless, some dismissed it as not being a “real” Porsche due to the joint collaboration between Volkswagen and Porsche. The 914/6’s price tag also rivaled that of the standard 911, as a result only 3,300 models sold across the span of its three-year production run.
914-6 chassis 0443 began life as a European delivery car that was brought to the US in the mid-’70s and turned into a weekend racer. The fenders were cut out and wide flares were added to accommodate wide wheels and tires, and the car was raced throughout Southern California in local and regional competitions. During a race at the California Speedway in the late 1970s, the 914-6 slid off of the track and made contact with the tire wall, damaging the drivers side door and fender. At the time, the damage exceeded the value of the car and was parked. The owner did not repair the car so John Rickard, a 914 enthusiast, and owner of Black Forest Automotive in San Diego, purchased the car with the intention of restoring the car to its original configuration. For the next 38 years, the car stood untouched at the back of the shop.
In 2003, professional racer Scott Kuhne and John Rickard became acquainted at a Porsche Club Race in Sebring, Florida where Kuhne was volunteering as Scrutineer and Rickard were working as the Chief Scrutineer. The two became friends and eventually led to Kuhne turning to Rickard as his Crew Chief during PCA racing events and off-road racing. Kuhne began storing his race cars at Black Forest Automotive, where he observed the 914-6 among a number of other project cars in the back of the shop. Kuhne made multiple offers to purchase the 914-6 from Rickard, but was unsuccessful until Rickard finally relented and agreed to sell the car to Kuhne and assist in the restoration. The initial intention was to build the 914-6 into a hot-rod our outlaw, but the plan changed once the Porsche Certificate of Authenticity was received and revealed that the 914-6 confirmed the drivetrain was numbers matching. With the low documented miles from decades, the car spend at the back of the shop, the plan quickly changed to perform a full restoration.
It was stripped to a bare chassis, bolted to a rotisserie and the four cut-up quarter panels were removed by drilling out the spot welds. The panels from a rust-free donor chassis were removed in the same fashion, and then spot welded into place before being sanded to bare metal by hand to avoid the risk of warping the metal. The body was repainted in the original color of Light Ivory (1110/L80E) as Porsche would have from the factory, with no tape and the correct overspray. Black Forest’s foreman, Mark Kinninger, rebuilt the driveline while the body and chassis were being painted. The cylinders of the original 2.0-liter flat-six received a modest bump in power by enlarging the stock cylinders to accommodate larger 2.2-liter pistons and a higher compression ratio of 9.0:1 over the stock 8.6:1. The cylinder heads were ported and polished and the downdraft Zenith carburetors were rebuilt and re-jetted to match the modified camshaft timing, and the stock distributor was re-curved to 911S specifications.
When the time came to reassemble the 914-6, Kuhne and the team at Black Forest made a concerted effort to save the original components when possible and source the correct components- an aspect made more difficult given that the car was a European specification model. Many of the parts were sourced from countries around the globe, such as Belgium, Germany, France and the U.K. Like the exterior, the interior required a near-complete overhaul. The original dashboard was in very good condition thanks to the bulk of the car’s life spent indoors, the original gauges rebuilt and the original steering wheel was recovered in the correct leather. A new-old-stock carpet set was sourced from Germany, and both the door panels and seats were reupholstered. Instead of installing the Fuchs wheels that are typically the go-to wheel choice, Kuhne decided to go with a set of 15×5.5-inch chrome-plated steel wheels and hubcaps.
Following the 914-6’s restoration, it was featured in the August 2021 issue of Excellence magazine and was awarded first in the Full Restoration class along with the Zuffenhausen award at the 2021 Porsche Parade.
Featured in the August 2021 issue of Excellence Magazine
Awarded first in the 2021 PCA Porsche Parade Full Restoration class
Zuffenhausen Award recipient
Concours restoration performed over the course of 2 years
Get RS Insights sent to your e-mail monthly.