I’ve always considered myself a lover of all things with a motor. Whether it was one of many Corvettes my dad has owned, or the tractor down on our family farm, I’ve always been fascinated by the design, the looks, their operation. But one thing that I’ve never done a whole lot of is actual work on a car. Sure, I’ve changed oil and checked tires (I’ve welded a bit, but never on a car). But that’s about the extent of it. I have all kinds of excuses, but they don’t matter here. The fact is that despite better than average mechanical knowledge, my skill set of working on a car is limited. So when it came to looking for a 914, it was intimidating.
It started with a load of research. Both the general observational kind - what do the really good-looking and highly regarded examples mention when they’re being described? And I also just went ahead and asked. For this, the 914World community was incredible. They are a welcoming bunch, and have a knowledge base that covers just about any 914 issue you might have. I had been on forums before, so I was nervous about how they would take to a noob, but my fears were for nothing. After about a month of gathering information, I had my list of things to check off on any 914 I would come across.
1. RUST - OMG the rust! Hell hole, longs, trunk, oh my. While actual rust-free is rare with 914s, I needed to get as close to that as possible. Metal work wasn’t in the cars for my skill or budget.
2. Pre 1975 - I didn’t want to have to worry about having to get my car smog checked in California when I first got it.
3. 2.0 - These aren’t powerful cars, so outside of getting a 914-6, this was my best option. I couldn’t afford a 6 anyways.
4. Post 72 - I had heard enough about tail-shifters to be wary. 914s have vague (to be kind) shift patterns as it is.
5. Appearance group - For some reason I like the center console. I’m not a big man, so I wasn’t worried about the pedal box getting too crowded for my legs or feet.
6. Not an LE - I don’t find LEs particularly attractive, and I didn’t want the responsibility of keeping something rare like that in a state that I don’t like.
Armed with those criteria, I started my search. In all, I seriously considered 3 cars. Let’s have a look. Keep in mind that each one of these was thought to be THE one at the time I was looking at them. Obviously, only one ended up being mine.
A 1973 1.7 in Adriatic Blue. I fell in love with this despite the 1.7. The seller had done a full restoration on it himself, and shared many of my same tastes. But he was looking for another 911 project, and was just putting out feelers for buyers. It was gorgeous. Sounded great. Interior was beautiful. I still have a little bit of lust for this car. The seller wasn’t ready to part with it, and I wasn’t about to push him. Him and I are still friendly. Good guy.
A 1972 2.0 in White. This one would have needed some work. It was just the chassis and drivetrain, but both were recently restored. I would have had to do the interior, but liked that idea since it gave me free reign. The engine was a 2056, the transmission updated to a side-shifter. I was ready to go on it and had a shop lined up for the work, and a handshake agreement. I had even started to get the funds together so I could cut a check. But later that night, it was pulled, given to someone else. I didn’t think this was cool, and still don’t. But those are the ropes.
And finally, a 1974 in Bahia Red. In pieces, but it was all there and I could make my desired modifications. I didn’t like (and still don’t) the bumperettes, but those can be managed. Given what happened with the last one, I was ready to move quickly. In a matter of about a day, it was mine, and the process of putting it all back together was rolling.
This is how I saw it for the first time (without engine & tranny, they sure sit up high):
My biggest fear through all of this was that I was going to get taken to the cleaners. Being someone that isn’t a mechanic, I was worried that I would end up purchasing an example that someone stashed away to sell to a goof like me. But the up front researched helped. I knew what to look for, and by zeroing in on potential problem spots right away, I think I was able to at least make it seem like I knew what to look for, even if I wasn’t absolutely sure. Looking back on it, I know I should have hired a PPI to look things over more aggressively, and feel kind of silly admitting that I didn’t. I do think that there is some element of ignorance being bliss. I’m confident the car isn’t rotting away beneath me. And that ain’t so bad.