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Home > Tech Info Center > The 914 Series > Buying a 914

The Pelican Parts Official Guide to Buying a 914

Version 1.2 Tom Gould &

What to look for when buying a Porsche 914...

[Click on Photo]

Figure 1: Center Console with Gauges

Figure 2: Chrome Rear Bumper

Figure 3: 2.0L Forged Fuchs Alloys

Figure 4: 1.7L & 1.8L Engine Serial Number Location

Figure 5: 2.0L Engine Serial Number Location

Decide What You Want
     Before you start looking for a 914 to purchase, you should be sure to know what your overall goal is. Do you want a daily driver, a project car, a Concours car, or perhaps a weekend race car? Do you want a 4-cylinder (1.7,1.8, or 2.0) or a 6-cylinder (stock, or conversion). Once you know what you want, you can start the search process. [In the near future] You can read our tech article: How to identify Porsche 914 models, that will give you descriptions of different 914 models and how to identify them, including all the options and differences.

Differences in the Years

     Here's a brief summary of the differences between some of the various 914-4s.






1970,71 80 1.7L D-Jet Introductory year for the 914.  Interior was a bit plain.  Had non-adjustable passenger seat, and fixed seat belts.  Not too many early options available.
1972 80 1.7L D-Jet Adjustable passenger seat and seat belts added.  Air vents in dashboard added.   Improved insulation and sound deadening
1973 95 2.0L D-Jet 914-6 dropped from 914 family.  Replaced with 914 2.0L.  In 1973, the 2.0L many cars came with Apearance Group option package. Identified by 2.0L on rear trunk panel. In '73, both 1.7L and 2.0L cars got an improved shifting transmission, better interior, and better window cranks.  Bumper guards added to front.
1973 80 1.7L D-Jet Engine remained the same as the years before, but the 1.7L had the same improvements that were found on the 2.0L.  Bumper guards added to front.
1974 95 2.0L D-Jet Same car as the 1973, but most options were now, in fact, optional.  Bumper guards on both front and rear. 1974 saw the release of a Special Edition 914. These cars were white with orange or green  bumpers, wheels and rockers, or black with yellow bumpers, wheels and rockers.  They also had a limited edition front spoiler.
1974 76 1.8L L-Jet Introduced in 1974, the 1.8L had lower horsepower from lower compression pistons.   The L-Jetrontic Fuel injection system is often considered unreliable when coupled with poor maintenance. Bumper guards on both front and rear.
1975 76 1.8L L-Jet Some cars get EGR tubes and California cars have a catalytic converter installed.   No smog pumps were used on the 1.8L cars.  Heavier bumpers are added to the front and rear.  New exhaust system for emissions purposes.  Fuel pump relocated to front to avoid troublesome vapor lock problem.
1975 90 2.0L D-Jet 2.0L cars get EGR, smog pumps, and catalytic converters (CA).  Heavier bumpers like the 1.8, relocation of the fuel pump. Horsepower is down, and engine runs hotter due to the emissions control.
1976 90 2.0L D-Jet Same as 1975 model; only 2.0L cars were made in 1976.  Later cars have many options installed since Porsche wanted to discontinue the model and dispose of its inventory.

Options Available
     Here are some extras to look for when buying your car.

  • Sway Bars.  Sway bars were optional in most years, and it's usually quite uncommon to find a car with them installed.  The can be added later on but it can take some time and patience, as well as a little welding.
  • Center Console with Gauges.  Originally sold with the Apearance Group Package, the center console is a popular goodie with all 914 owners.  They cost about $300-$350 for a perfect condition one with the center cushion, all the gauges, and the correct heater handle.   See Figure 1 for a picture of the center console.
  • Chrome Bumpers.  Front and rear, these are another favorite with many 914 owners.  Figure 2 shows the rear chrome bumper.
  • Alloy Wheels.  These were sometime standard on the 2.0L cars (1973), and optional on the other cars.  Figure 3 shows a car with the original Fuchs 2.0L Alloys. These wheel have the inserts painted black, something that was not done to original wheels. Original Fuchs alloys have a VW logo on the rear. In our photo gallery, there is a picture of a 914 with the rarer Mahle Alloys. Also available were Pedrini Alloys.
  • Air Conditioning.  Not overly popular, the A/C system offered for the 914 cut down on horsepower, and also made some major modifications to the chassis of the car.  The A/C unit was only installed by the dealers.
    Fog Lamps.  Another popular option were fog lamps which were inset into the front bumper.
  • Other Options. Leather wrapped steering wheel, leather boot for shift lever, tinted glass, passenger side exterior mirror, vinyl trim on the rollbar, "PORSCHE" lettering above rockers, rear fog lamp (European cars only), center (2+1 seating) seat-belt, and rear defroster.

Inspect the Car
     Here are some helpful hints of what to look for when inspecting your future Porsche. The first thing to always look for is rust. Unless you have a lot of time and money on your hands (and love to weld), leave the rusty 914's alone, or buy one for parts alone. Rust repair can be difficult and expensive, depending on how severe it is.

Where to look for rust on 914's:

  • The front suspension A-arm mounting points (where the suspension bolts to the chassis).
  • The floor pan (make sure the seats aren't falling through!)
  • The rocker panels - especially check the jack post support area.
  • The rear suspension mounting points, especially the right-hand side.
  • The rear trunk pan.
  • The floor of the front trunk.
  • Inside the car, lift up the carpet and look for rust around the pedal assembly, the seat mounting points, and behind the seats at the firewall.
  • In the engine compartment: look around the battery tray. It is quite common for the battery tray and support to be rusted, and that is a fairly easy fix, but what you want to look for is rust in the engine shelf below the tray. If there are big rust areas and holes here, then look under the car near at the right rear suspension console and look for structural rust there.
  • Also in the engine compartment, look in the forward corners (use a flashlight). It is an area where water can sit.

     Okay, so the chassis is good, what next? How is the body.? Are the panels straight? Do the doors open and close easily? Have the front and rear decklids ever been bent? Look at the reinforcement beams on the decklids, as they will show repair welds or previous damage to the lids. In the front, look in the front trunk and see how straight the panels are behind the bumper and along the headlight assembly supports.
      Any previous repairs should be obvious there. Check for rust in the channel that the hood seal is glued to - especially around the headlights.

     Do the serial numbers in the front trunk (in two places) match the other serial numbers (see Q&A on 914 chassis serial numbers). In the rear trunk check the straightness of the rear panel between the taillight assemblies, and check for patches in the rear trunk pan. Remember, the newest 914 is 22 years old (the last one was built on 1/22/76).

     What is the history of the car? Is it fuel injected or carbureted? Fuel Injected cars are inherently worth more, since most people abandoned the fuel injection after they had problems with the running of the engine. How does it drive (if it drives)? Does the engine start easily when it is cold? Does is start easily when warm or hot? Does it idle well when it is warm (they all seem to idle rough when cold). Does it shift okay?

     Don't fall in love with a car just because it 'looks' good. We have seen many, many cars where the owner will spend $1,000 on wheels and tires, yet they won't spend money on normal maintenance. I know of a case where someone bought a beautiful (looking) 914 2.0 for $4,000 (it was a real eye catcher), and within 8 months he had to rebuild the engine and transmission, replace the clutch, all the brake discs and pads and wheel bearings, and many other items. He ended up with a $12,000 914 real quick. Have the car checked out by someone who knows.

     How is the body? Are the panels straight? Do the doors open and close easily, and are the gaps between the door and the body fairly even. Again, check the underside of the battery, then look under the car near the battery. Does the owner have any records? All 914-4 Porsches originally came with fuel injection (a few Solex carburetor 914's were made for Europe).  Again, have the car checked out!! It is usually cheaper to pay more for a rust-free example than it is to repair a rusty one in the long run. A fuel injected 914 in good shape should start up pretty easily. 914's are known for having sloppy shifters and can be difficult to get into first gear. This could be something as simple as a clutch adjustment and shift bushing replacement, or it can be a sign of a worn clutch or transmission.

     Ignoring the 914-6, there were three main versions of the 914-4 engine produced.  These were the 1.7L, 1.8L, and 2.0L.  Although nearly identical to each other in design and principle, only a select few parts can be interchanged among the years.  The most definitive way for a beginner to tell the difference between engine types is to check the serial number on the case.  One word of advice: always check the serial number yourself.  The seller may not accurately know what size engine is in the car.
     In 1970, the 914-4 shipped with a 1.7L engine that output 80 Horsepower.  The engine used a Bosch MPC (or D-Jetronic) fuel injection system.   This engine is most easily characterized by a circular air box located in the center of the engine.  Total engine displacement was 1679cc.  For more detailed information on this engine, see our technical specs.
     In the years 1970-1972, the engine basically did not change.   In 1973, the compression ratio was lowered in the California cars to accommodate tougher smog laws and lower octane fuel.  1973 was the final year that the 1.7L engine was produced.
     The serial number for the 1.7L motors can be found on the engine case, towards the rear of the car.  The location of the 1.7L serial number is shown in Figure 4.  It may be difficult to view this number because of all the fuel injection components that occupy space in the engine compartment.  1.7L serial numbers always begin with the letter W, followed by a number corresponding to the year of the car.  For example, a 1972 1.7L engine's serial number would start with the sequence W2.  In late 1973, some 1.7L engines were labeled with serial numbers beginning with EA and EB.
     In 1974, Porsche changed the displacement and fuel injection of the 1.7 motor, increasing it to 1.8L (1795).  Because this motor used a lower compression ratio, the overall horsepower garnered from the engine dropped to about 76 HP.   The newer fuel injection, the Bosch L-Jetronic system, relied heavily on the use of vacuum control and feedback.  Although a much better system than the D-Jetronic, the early L-Jetronic systems were often prone to engine reliability problems primarily due to the increased reliance on the integrity of the vacuum hoses. Visually, this system is easily recognized by the large black plastic air box located in the engine compartment on the left side.
     Porsche was forced to add smog equipment to the 1.8L engines.   EGR tubes were added to the heads, and a catalytic converter was added to the exhaust system.  Total horsepower remained unchanged at 76.  There was no smog pump used on the 1975 1.8L 914.  Additionally, there were no 1.8L engines produced in 1976.
     The serial number for the 1.8L engine is located in the same location as the one for the 1.7L.  This location is shown in Figure 4.  1.8L engines.  The 1.8L engine serial numbers begin with the letters EC.
    In 1973, Porsche developed an increased displacement motor for the 914.   The 914 2.0L used the same Bosch MPC (D-Jetronic) that the 1.7L motor had used, however, almost none of the parts from the injection system are interchangeable.  The fuel injection system is visually recognized by a large square metal airbox that sits in the center of the engine compartment. This 2.0L motor had a displacement of 1971cc and achieved 95 horsepower.  The European version had a slightly higher compression ratio (by using different pistons) and achieved 100 horsepower.  Although nearly identical in design, this motor shares only a few parts with the 1.7L motor, and the 1.8L motor developed the next year.  Full technical specs on the 2.0L engine can be found in our 914 technical section.
   The 2.0L engine remained essentially unchanged from the 1973 model year.   However, in 1975 and 1976, Porsche added smog equipment that reduced the total horsepower output to 90 HP.  EGR tubes, and a smog pump were found on most cars, as well as a catalytic converter for the California models.
     The 2.0L engine serial number can be found on the engine case just in front of the oil filler neck.  This location is shown in Figure 5.  The 2.0L engine cases always started with the letters GA or GB.

Things That May Indicate Trouble

Carburetors on 914 Engines

     All of the original 914s were sold with fuel injection on the engines.  You may find in your travels that this fuel injection system has been removed and replaced with a set of carburetors.  This is usually a bad sign for a number of reasons.
     Firstly, the removal of the fuel injection system indicates that there was a problem with it that the owner either couldn't or didn't want to fix.   The fuel injection system (when running and properly maintained) makes for a superior fuel delivery system.  Replacing it with carbs makes the car run less efficiently, usually coupled with a loss in power.
     If an owner of a 914 replaced the fuel injection with carbs, they might have done it because he rebuilt the motor to be a racing motor.  The regular fuel injection cam will not work well with a set of carbs, and likewise, if you place carbs on the motor, then you should use a cam ground for specifically for carburation.   If there is a carb cam in the engine, replacing the original fuel injection will not make the car run well.  The cam needs to be matched to the injection system.   This is of special concern to smog-conscious owners.  Replacing the fuel injection on an engine with a carb cam inside will not make the car pass the smog test.
     In California, it is illegal to install carburetors on the 914 engine for cars 1974 and newer.  The car will not pass the visual smog test, and most likely will not pass at the tailpipe.  It is important to remember that replacing the fuel injection will most likely cost a minimum of $750.  Higher prices may be paid if the engine is a 2.0L motor.

Missing Smog Equipment
     On the 1975 & 1976 cars, there was a bunch of smog equipment that was installed.  Specifically, on 2.0L cars there were EGR tubes, smog pumps, catalytic converters, and charcoal canisters.  The 1.8L cars in 1975 had everything but the smog pump.  On the earlier cars, some were equipped with charcoal canisters to capture excess gasoline fumes.
     Missing smog equipment can be very expensive to replace.   For the most part, the various pieces of smog equipment can be difficult to locate in good condition.  Keep in mind that missing smog equipment indicates that someone has been tampering with the engine.

VW Bus Engines in 914s
     This one occurs much more than you would think.  When the engine inside the car doesn't match any of the 914 serial numbers, chances are that is an engine from a VW bus.  Most of the time, these engines will be carbureted, which indicates trouble to begin with (see above).  While having a VW bus engine in the car may work perfectly fine, it significantly decreases the value of the car. Additionally, you most likely don't know what condition the motor is in.  VW bus motors are often rebuilt to less than exacting standards.

Despite their sometimes low price, 914s are still Porsches, and parts are relatively expensive compared to a VW bug.  You should therefore get the best car that you can at the time of purchase.  A good used 2.0L with many options can be had for $5K-$7K.  While this may seem much higher than other cars, condition is extremely important and the car will save you money in repairs later on.  Even the best car will have problems in the future - the cars are over 25 years old.  It's best to start with one that has been well cared for.
     Most people want 2.0L cars, and they are more expensive as a result.  The ideal car would be a 1973 2.0L, and then a '74 with as many options as possible.  The late '75 & '76 cars don't appeal to everyone, and are subject to much tougher smog requirements here in CA.  The 1.8L cars can be reliable if they are well cared for.  The 1.7 cars are the most common, and usually a good selection of them is available.

     Well, there you have it.  We hope that this guide has been useful, and we will be constantly updating it, as there is a lot of information that is not yet included.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us.

Special thanks to Mike Willis and Dave Darling.  Be sure to check out Dave Darling's 914 Frequently Asked Questions, also located on this site.


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