How many 914s were made? When were they produced?
See the http://www.914world.com/specs/productionnumbers.php
Note: the production data shows the year the car was built, not the model year. All of the 1976 cars were actually built in 1975. Porsche traditionally began a new model year run in September of the previous year (so, 1970 model year production began in September of 1969). From available data, it appears that Karmann (who built all of the 914 chassis) stopped production of the 914 in December of 1975, and all cars built from September to December of 1975 were, therefore, 1976 model year cars.
How do I decode the VIN number?
For the 914-6, the VIN will start with 914.
For a 914-4, the VIN will be 47Y29XXXXX. 47 is the type number. Y is the model year: 0=1970, 6=1976. 29 means it was built by Karmann (all were). The last 5 digits is the serial number.
What are the major differences between years? What is the best year?
The 914/6 was only produced in 1970-1972, and is basically the same in all years. The differences between the fours were: different steering column, with no keyswitch. Ignition key was in the dash to the left of the column, as in the 911 (except for the 1972 914/6, which used the 914/4 steering column and keyswitch). The column stalks controlled wipers (right stalk) as well as turn signals/high beams (left stalk). The 914/6 used an electric washer pump (controlled by the right stalk on the steering column), rather than the VW-style spare tire pressurised bottle all the fours used. The 914/6 mounted the engine at the bottom center of the firewall, and those tubs had no side engine mounts like the fours. All 914/6s were five-lug, with different brake calipers and rotors front and rear. The 914/6 front suspension used 911 parts, so the torsion bars are splined differently from the fours, as well. The 914/6 had a hand-throttle on the center tunnel just forward of the shift lever. The 914/6 gearbox was quite different from either of the 914/4 gearboxes, with a completely different shift linkage. The 914/6 weighed roughly 150lbs more than the early 914/4.
1973 was year of major changes. Besides the 914/6 being dropped, the 2.0 four appeared. The passenger seat went from fixed to movable. Side impact door beams appeared mid-year. Side vents for fresh air were added to the dash, and the single center vent disappeared. The e-brake handle no longer folded down when engaged. The front bumper received large rubber bumpers (bumper tits). The 1.7 received a paper element air filter, changed from the oil bath filter used previously. The compression ratio on the 1.7 was also lowered, so that it used regular gas instead of premium. The side window regulators were changed from a cable type to a parallelogram type. The front suspension, like the 911, improved the ball-joint mounting system from a pinch bolt to a wedge pin. The side-shift gearbox appeared, different from the earlier tail-shift gearbox, with a shorter and less complex shift linkage. In total, the '73 cars were approximately 100lbs heavier than the '70-'72 fours.
For 1974, the 1.7 was enlarged to 1.8, and was fitted with L-Jet fuel injection in the US. Dual single-throat Solex carbs were used on the European 1.8. The rear bumpers got tits like the front bumpers.
1975 was a major year for new regulations in the US, which was the largest market for the 914. Large, heavy, rubber 5mph bumpers were fitted (which added another 100lbs to the car). A completely different exhaust with a catalytic convertor was used, along with an air injection pump into the exhaust ports. The compression ratios were lowered again. The '75 1.8 and 2.0 US model engines were the least powerful versions of these engines in the 914.
The "best year" really depends on the buyer. The 1970-1972 914/6 is by far the most desirable in the market. The 1973-1974 2.0 cars generally are held to be the most desirable fours, but the 1970-1972 cars are substantially lighter, and are popular for conversions. The 1975/1976 cars are the heaviest and the least powerful, but some prefer the look of the bigger bumpers.
Is a 914 reliable enough for daily use?
They're no less (and no more) reliable than any other car made more than 30 years ago. Parts wear, rubber dries up and crumbles, and corrosion can attack nearly everything in some way or another. The basic drivetrain design is solid and reliable, but how reliable things still are depends a lot more on what happened to the car in the intervening years than what the designers and manufacturers did. People do use them daily, and people do drive them on long trips of well over 2000 miles. They generally require less maintanance than cars made in the 1950s, but they also require more maintenance than cars made in the 1990s.
What is an LE?
This was a run of approximately 1000 cars in 1974 to commemorate Porsche's Can-Am success. The cars were all painted in one of two special styles, and all were equipped with cast Mahle 4-bolt wheels. The color schemes were black with yellow valences an bumpers and a yellow PORSCHE sticker at the bottom of the door; and white (ivory) with red/orange valences/bumpers and sticker. The wheels were also painted to match the trim color. The former scheme is commonly called "Bumblebee", where the latter is called "Creamsicle". There was a third scheme, "Grasshopper", which substituted green for red in the Creamsicle style, but it appears this was either a US dealer invention, or wholly invented by owners. The factory claims it never produced the white/green LE scheme itself. The cars were also equipped with all options for 1974 except for the sail panel vinyl.
What is D-Jet? What is L-Jet?
These are the fuel injection systems used on the 914. Druck-Jetronic and Luft-Jetronic. Druck is German for pressure, and D-Jet uses manifold pressure and engine speed as its primary signals. Luft is air, and L-Jet uses air "mass", or the actual flow into the engine, measured using a flapper valve in the intake, as well as engine speed, as the primary signals. D-Jet was used on all US 914/4s except the 1.8, which used L-Jet. It was also used on some Volvos, Mercedes, and Jaguars. L-Jet was VERY popular, fitted by nearly every European marque at one point or another. It was also licensed by the Japanese for use in those cars. Variations of this system were used from 1975 to the early 1990s.
How can I tell what engine I have?
The six is pretty obvious. There's a huge hump in the front that has the cooling fan, and there are six intake runners (or carbs). The engine type number is on the cooling fan end of the engine driver's side. It's nearly impossible to see with the engine in the car. It will be something like 901/xx or 911/xx. You need to look up xx in one of the many guides on 911 engines.
The Type IV is the engine that should be in the 914/4. The early 1.7 has a flat-ish, round air filter housing made of steel (the oil-bath type). The engine number is on the passenger's side, on the top of the case, and starts with W. On the later 1.7 ('73 only), the oil filter housing is plastic, and there's a paper filter inside. The 1.8 will have L-Jet, which has a contraption on the air filter that holds an air flapper.
The 2.0 has only three studs on the heads holding the intake runners to the heads. The 1.7 and 1.8 have four studs. The engine number will start with GA.
(photos are needed, and forthcoming)
Can I remove the fuel injection on my 914 a fit a carb instead?
You can, but it's generally a step backwards. If you're simply removing the EFI because it doesn't work, it's nearly always much easier and cheaper to just fix the fuel injection than it is to fit a pair of Weber carbs (which will cost you anywhere from $400 for a used set to over $1000 for new parts). The single Weber kits sold for the Type IV are pretty close to worthless. The single carb doesn't run well on these engines, as the long intake runners cause the fuel to condense between the carb and the valves, wetting the runners in an inconsistent way. Getting these to run better than "barely acceptable" is very difficult, and depends a great deal on the local weather. If it's a hot day, they may run fine. On a cool evening, they'll run like crap.
Just removing the EFI and fitting a pair of Weber IDF carbs will usually drop the fuel mileage from the high 20s down to the low 20s for even the high teens. If you use single-throat Solexes instead (which the Euro 1.8s used), it's possible to do better than this, but these carbs sets are rare. Swapping out the cam can also improve things with carbs, but since this requires a complete engine teardown on the Type IV, it's rarely done.
Most of the time, fixing the fuel injection means doing nothing more than a minor wiring repair or vacuum hose replacement.
What size tires will fit?
On the stock 5.5" wide rims, with stock fenders, 195/60 tires will fit on pretty much all cars. Due to wide manufacturing tolerances used at Karmann, the exact width of the rear fenders varies from car to car, and from side to side. The tire/fender clearance is tight there (the fronts have lots of room). On some cars, 205/50 tires will fit with no problem. On other cars, you'll need to massage the fender on one or both sides to allow tires this size to fit. The exact size also varies between tire manufacturers and models of tire, so even if a 205 in one model of tire fits, another may not.
With "stock" GT flares (7" front, 9" rear), 7" front wheels with 225/50-15 tire and 8" rear wheels with 245/45-15 tires, using 1" wide spacers at both ends, is known to work. 8" front wheels with 245/45-15 tires and 9" wheels with 285/40-15 tires (no spacers) has also been used successfully. 10x17 wheels with 275 tires on the back have been seen, but the fit is extremely tight. For slicks, 9" Goodyears on 7x15 wheels with 1/4" spacers are a known-to-work setup.
My 914 shifts badly, how do I fix this?
The shift linkage on the 914 is long, and runs through several nylon bushings. These bushings wear out over time, and need to be replaced. Kits are inexpensively available from all of the major parts suppliers.
If you have a tail-shifter ('70-'72, the linkage goes all the way to the rear of the gearbox, driver's side), there are four bushings and two balls made of nylon. There's also more linkage inside the gearbox case, though rebuilding that is well beyond the scope of what most owner's are willing to tackle. It's hard to get a tail-shifter to better than "acceptable", even with all new bushings. There's an adjustment pinch bolt under the cover at the base of the firewall, on the top of the tunnel, between the seats, and is fairly hard to reach comfortably from either seat.
If you have a side-shifter ('73-on, the linkage stops halfway along the gearbox and goes in the side), there are only three nylon bushings, two cone shaped set screws, and two more nylon bushings in the shift coupler (U-joint). The adjuster is at the base of the shift lever, and is much easier to reach from the driver's seat.
To adjust the shifter after you've replaced all of the bushings, you need to loosen the adjuster bolt and arrange the shift lever so, when it's in 2nd or 3rd gear, it just lightly rests on the sprung plate that keeps it out of the R/1 plane (so, as far to the left as possible with no spring pressure).
I need to work on the bottom of my 914, where is it safe to jack it up?
At the four corners of the floor, there are round "donuts" that are safe to jack on, and also are excellent places for jackstands. You can also jack on the engine mounting bar (on /4s), and the front suspension crossmember (which is usually hidden by a splash shield). Jacking up under the nose pieces of the front A-arms works, though it can easily slip off these, so be careful. Some also use the pivot section of the rear suspension trailing arms. Jacking anywhere else on the floor will likely damage the floor (as in seriously bend stuff). Jacking under the rear of the transaxle is doable, but it's easy for the jack to slip, and the case of the transaxle is relatively fragile magnesium.
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