The Porsche 914 is one of the most misunderstood – and possibly even the most unloved – Porsches of all time. Launched in 1969 for the 1970 model year, Porsche is celebrating 50 years of the 914 by offering more insight into this car from the perspective of Porsche's current design boss, Michael Mauer (just the third person to hold this role since F.A. Porsche, who designed the 911).
The idea of an affordable entry-level Porsche dates back to the original 356, and that spirit lived on with a detuned version of the 911, called the 912. When it came time to replace the 912, Porsche went for a completely new vehicle from the ground up, and that resulted in the Porsche 914. Development for what would became the 914 began in 1964 – the same year production of the 912 started – with early sketches and models taking inspiration from both the 356 and the iconic 550 racecar.
Mauer says that five-year development of the 914 was impressive for a completely new car designed from the ground up, and he compares that to the four years it took to redesign the 911 for its current 992 generation. Interestingly, it didn't take long for Porsche's design team to finalize the rear end and profile of the 914, but the front end proved to be the biggest challenge. Early models showed the car with dual headlights on each side, but in the end, they stuck with a single round headlight design, which has gone on to remain a signature of Porsche design from the 356 to today's sports cars and SUVs.
It's amazing to look back at the 914 and realize that this was just Porsche's fourth road-going car ever, and it represented a groundbreaking step forward in terms of design. Perhaps the most eye-opening part of this interview is Mauer suggesting a possible successor to the 914 in the future. If such a car were to become a reality, he says that it wouldn't be an entry-level car in terms of pricing, but it would be smaller with no electric nannies and a puristic, mechanical experience likening such a car to the Audi TT RS and the Volkswagen R32. That sounds good to us!
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