Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Car Of The Day: July 5, 2011

Today's car of the day is Playart's 1972 Porsche 914/4 ("Volkswagen Porsche").

The Porsche 914 or VW-Porsche 914 is a mid-engined, targa-topped two-seat roadster designed, manufactured and marketed collaboratively by Volkswagen and Porsche from 1969 to 1976.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Porsche 914

Oh boy, where do I start with this one?  I had this model as a child.  And I'm extremely blessed to have the bulk of my childhood collection still intact.  This one, however, is not my childhood car.  Playart made the mistake (well, it's not really a mistake since it is somewhat accurate) of calling this one "Volkswagen Porsche".  As a five year old I knew enough to know that "Volkswagen doesn't make Porsche, Porsche makes Porsche!" and decided that this couldn't be a real car.  [JEREMY CLARKSON]Therefore, it needed to die.[/JEREMY CLARKSON]  This car featured a seperate vinyl roof piece in black, which made it look remarkably similar to the dozens of '70s cars that were routinely getting squashed in monster truck racing during the 1980s.  You can guess where this is going...  I stepped on it.  Jumped on it.  Flattened it every which way I could.  The front windshield eventually shattered and I can't remember how the vinyl roof faired, but I do remember this one being one of my favorite cars to flatten with my Matchbox Superchargers monster trucks.  It never made the move from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.  I had it in a bag of other "junk cars" (including some pieces I really wish I still had!) that were supposed to come along with us, but I left it sit at the top of the stairwell where I figured I would remember it.  I didn't.  There were also some other cars in the basement that didn't make it either.  *Sighs*  Aside from those, everything else from my childhood made it intact to my new home!  This is a replacement picked up at the York toy show in 2006.

By the late 1960s, both Volkswagen and Porsche were in need of new models; Porsche was looking for a replacement for their entry-level 912, and Volkswagen wanted a new range-topping sports coupe to replace the Karmann Ghia. At the time, the majority of Volkswagen's developmental work was handled by Porsche, part of a setup that dated back to Porsche's founding; Volkswagen needed to contract out one last project to Porsche to fulfill the contract, and decided to make this that project. Ferdinand Piëch, who was in charge of research and development at Porsche, was put in charge of the 914 project.
Originally intending to sell the vehicle with a flat four-cylinder engine as a Volkswagen and with a flat six-cylinder engine as a Porsche, Porsche decided during development that having Volkswagen and Porsche models sharing the same body would be risky for business in the American market, and convinced Volkswagen to allow them to sell both versions as Porsches in North America.

On March 1, 1968, the first 914 prototype was presented. However, development became complicated after the death of Volkswagen's chairman, Heinz Nordhoff, on April 12, 1968. His successor, Kurt Lotz, was not connected with the Porsche dynasty and the verbal agreement between Volkswagen and Porsche fell apart.

In Lotz's opinion, Volkswagen had all rights to the model, and no incentive to share it with Porsche if they would not share in tooling expenses. With this decision, the price and marketing concept for the 914 had failed before series production had begun. As a result, the price of the chassis went up considerably, and the 914/6 ended up costing only a bit less than the 911T, Porsche's next lowest price car. The 914/6 sold quite poorly while the much less expensive 914-4 became Porsche's top seller during its model run, outselling the Porsche 911 by a wide margin with over 118,000 units sold worldwide.

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