Lee jacob's 1972 Porsche 914 The 914 was always a driver's car. Low curb weight, engine in the middle of the chassis, and the center of gravity of an ant, it corners like nothing else on the road. Of course, like any other car, it has its shortcomings. Besides being known as the "poor man's Porsche," it was notoriously underpowered-unless you got your hands on one of the 914/6s that made their way to these shores.
What you see before you is not a 914/6. A closer look at the fenders front and rear will reveal that. The sixes had squarish wheel flares front and rear while this '72 914 has had only its hindquarters widened at the rear by Custom Auto Body in Phoenix, Ariz.
Like a base runner on second, these fenders are all about the steel. You can't tell right away, since like the rest of the car they have been sprayed a Glasurit 21 line toner yellow, the yellow from which all other yellows are derived.
With this burly body, the anemic 1.8-liter powerplant couldn't be left in the engine bay, so Beck's Independent Porsche in Scottsdale tore that out and dropped the '82 3.0 liter SC CIS motor in its place. A Rich Johnson motor mount ensures proper fitment of the motor, mounting it an inch lower so that cutting into the rear trunk is not required. The conversion does however force the elimination of the drip pan and the trunk latch.
A 3-liter motor, stock at 204 hp, would represent a significant power gain, but with Viton seals and O-rings, new valve guides and 9.3: 1 compression, the motor is putting out nearly twice that of a stock 914. According to owner Lee Jacob, it dynoed at 240 hp at sea level in Arizona before the he found it and brought it back to Colorado. Jacob is a Boulder native who bought his first 914 in 1990.
"I sold a 944 and my first 914 in order to acquire muscle cars," he says. "But living in the Colorado Rockies and driving the canyons reignited my interest in sports cars. This yellow beauty demanded my attention. One drive and that was enough to know this car belonged in the mountains."
So, it was with great enthusiasm that this reporter found the keys handed to him. I've always had a special affinity for the 914; it was my first car right out of high school. Of course, having owned a Honda Hurricane right before the Porsche sort of made the car's "raw power" seem even more meager, but knowing that Jacob's version was powered by Porsche and not VW made the idea of reliving my first vehicle a lot more enticing.
I settled into the custom hand-stitched leather and suede interior. My left foot pushed straight forward to the clutch as I eased the 901 transmission with a strengthened intermediate shaft down and to the left for first gear, the clutch had a familiar tension to it. I moved from first into second as we pulled out of Red Rocks parking lot and embarked on the 15-mile journey across town toward the necessary "second location."
The highway entrance contained a sharp right-hander, followed by a left. The combination of Bilstein and Koni Sport adjustables, Weltmeister springs, and of course the mid-engine weight distribution, kept body roll nearly imperceptible through this chicane as I eagerly rode the ass of quickly oncoming traffic.
Throttling down through the barrage of sweepers that make up 285 west of Denver finally allowed the 3.0-liter flat six to start breathing and get into its powerband, while the Comple custom wheels wrapped in Dunlop Sport 9000s did a stupendous job of gripping the road.
Jacob didn't bat an eye as I rowed through the gears, the only drawback to the experience being the slight doughiness of said shifts. As we weaved through traffic on a straight section of the highway, the speedo soared as we approached our destination. The final highway interchange ended up being a sweeper that called for a downshift and a subsequent passing of multiple cars before squeezing into the exit lane.
By this time I could see my passenger was getting a little nervous, so I got on the Wilwood Billet Superlite brakes (with a 23mm brake cylinder and Wilwood hats drilled for a 911). This brake combination quickly got us down to more civil speeds, at which point the flaxen flyer got even more attention at a stoplight. One lady in a minivan nearly broke her neck looking at the rear fenders.
What had started out as a nervous experience with the competition clutch turned into a thrilling rendezvous between machine and man after only a few minutes of spirited driving-sort of like hooking up with an old girlfriend.
Comparing Jacob's modified 914 to an older stock version, or to my old girlfriend for that matter, might be sacrilege, but the mere fact that he let me behind the helm is worthy of praise.
1972 Porsche 914
Layout Longitudinal mid engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 1982 3.0 Liter SC CIS 81-83 U.S. Specs, 9.3:1 Compression, stock cams and standard crank, balanced, Viton seals and O-rings, new valves and guides, C.I.S. (K-Jetronic), Original 914/6 oil cooler midships, external oil cooler under cowl with electric fan (thermostat on oil temp)
Transmission 901 five-speed, side shift, strengthened intermediate shaft
Suspension Weltmeister SP-180 springs, Bilstein dampers front, Koni dampers rear
Brakes Wilwood Superlite four piston calipers with Wilwood rotors, 23mm brake cylinder, Wilwood hats (drilled for 911)
Wheels & Tires Comple Custom alloys, 17-inch Dunlop SP Sport 9000, 205/40 (f), 275/40 (r)
Exterior Custom steel fenders, Glasurit 21 Line Toner Yellow Paint (Custom Auto Body)
Interior Original 914/6 steering column, hand stitched leather and suede interior
Performance Peak Power: 240 hp