Vintage Review: 1973 Porsche 914 2 Liter – “Bigger 4-Cylinder Engine Gives The Popular 914 A Boost”

The Porsche 914 originally came in two quite disparate versions: 1.7 L VW powered, and rather modestly at that, and the vastly faster and more expensive Porsche six powered 914/6. Although the 914 1.7 sold quite well in the US, the impact of emission controls made it progressively slower. Something needed to be done.

The result was the 914 2-Liter, sporting a new larger version of the 411/412 air cooled four. Although its 91 hp seems laughable now, it made the 914 a pretty quick car for the times, as in a 0-60 time of 10.3 seconds and a 119 mph top speed. A such, it slotted in almost perfectly between the still-available 914 1.7 and the 914/6, whose already modest sales shrunk with the availability of the 914 2 Liter.

The gap was only going to be widened further, as the 1973 914 1.7 had a drop in power to 76 hp for 49 states and all of 69 in CA. So the new 2 Liter was a very welcome addition, and in price and performance both, it slotted in quite nicely between the other two.

And there were quite a few other improvements: The standard 5-speed transmission had a significantly improved linkage, although it still kept the Porsche shift pattern with first all the way on the left and down, and 2-5 in an H pattern. Good for racing; not so good for the street. With five gears and an engine that was not at all peaky, the gears could be shifted early, or not. The VW engine made its peak power at a un-Porsche like 4900 rpm, and its redline was 5600 rpm. It really suited American-style driving, and the fuel-injected boxer four ran well, not exhibiting the common driveability ailments of the times.

There were a number of other minor improvements including better sound insulation and ergonomic upgrades. The 914 2 Liter came standard with a higher level of trim and equipment.The interior of the 914 was generally a plus, being roomier than the typical mid-engine sports car, including two luggage spaces, front and rear. It was a German car, after all.

The 914 2 Liter also came with wider alloy wheels and bigger tires, and anti-roll bars front and rear. That did improve ultimate cornering power. The handling characteristics had every last bit of oversteer abolished, with a decided understeer in all situations. That might have been preferred by some, but R&T felt that the loss of some oversteer when desired by a competent driver was somewhat unfortunate. I agree.

The changes didn’t quite make the ride as ideal as might be hoped for. R&T felt that it was oversprung and underdamped, but it “bobs about” more than ideal.

All in all, R&T summed it up as “one of the better sports cars around”. Agreed.

This red 914 2 Liter belongs to CC  commenter and contributor Vic Ceicis, who stopped by to see us in Eugen back in 2016. That gave me the opportunity to drive it and write up my experience here.