At the end of the 1960s, Porsche was on the hunt for a model that could slot into the family lineup below the 911. Working with Volkswagen to make this happen, Porsche came up with the 914, and it proved to be quite popular. In fact, the relative affordability of the 914/4 helped push it past the sales figures of the more potent (and much more expensive) 911. Porsche offered a 6-cylinder 914/6 version that didn’t sell as well, but the racing version called the 914/6 GT captured an in-class victory during the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Only a few thousand 914/6 models were built compared to the 100,000-plus examples of the 4-cylinder version, and none were built after 1972. The 914/6 that’s wandered into Jay Leno’s Garage is a 1974 model, and it’s a tribute to the GT race car. It’s been built by Eric Shea using period correct go-fast and stay-safe parts.
Underneath, it has a 5-speed 901 gearbox and it’s mated to 2.5-liter twin-plug 6-cylinder engine making about 250 horsepower. That’s a high-performance mill plucked from a late 1960s 911, and it’s an aluminum unit that’s lusted after by Porsche lovers today.
Out on the road, the car seems ready to rev and it sounds great doing just that. The 914 looks especially diminutive among the standard machines found in daily LA traffic. Once Jay ventures away from the sprawl near his garage, the car comes alive on California’s great canyon roads. There’s something special about the noise that comes from a Porsche boxer engine when it’s pushed up into its rev range.