J. Michael Hemsley examines Porsche's limited edition 914 tribute to its Can-Am winner.
In September 2022, I travelled to Townsend, Tennessee, in the Great Smokey Mountains for Okteenerfest. The annual gathering of Porsche 914s was a fun, albeit secondary, reason for going. The primary reason was to profile a rare 914 model, a Can-Am in a color combination that causes it to be known as a Creamsicle. The owner, Rick Sumoski, told me about the gathering and suggested that it would be a great place to do the photography for the profile, and it certainly was.
The history of Porsche, the man and the company, was chronicled in detail in an article titled “Wreck to Racer”, so this profile will begin with why Porsche and Volkswagen decided to build the 914. The 914 came about because of need. The lowest price Porsche was getting a bit too pricey, so Porsche saw a need for a new entry model. At the same time, VW’s more upscale models than the Beetle weren’t doing all that well. Porsche needed something cheaper, and VW needed something more expensive. Different needs that converged on a similar solution resulted in Ferry Porsche and Heinz Nordoff (of VW) agreeing to build the 914 with a handshake. The project was called the “Fourteener,” a nickname, sometimes shortened to “Teener,” that has remained among the 914 faithful ever since. It was a convenient solution, since Porsche, with the success of the 911, had no available production capacity while VW had plenty. The resulting 914 was a clever design that solved the problem as seen by the two companies, but it was not met with much acclaim from the legions of 911 and Beetle owners and fans. Porsche 356 and 911 owners could not imagine a Porsche without the engine in the very back, overlooking the considerable success Porsche had racing mid-engine cars. Beetle owners were horrified that VW would create a car that was not a “People’s Car.” Ultimately, as can be seen by the turnout at Okteenerfest, the 914 became quite popular among enthusiasts that appreciated the mid-engine design and resulting neutral handling of this two-seater cult classic.
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