On display at the 20th annual The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, in Carmel Valley was a strange little car that caught my attention. The car had a Porsche emblem on its nose and a confusing “Porsche VW 914-6” script on the rear. It was the farthest thing from a Porsche design I could image. Later I circled back to see the whole back half of the car opened up like a Transformer. When I was informed it was French, the design made sense. The French have been known for their Avant Garde designs since the 1920s that are often whimsical, certainly entertaining and somewhat strange. An investigation into how this Porsche came to be clothed near Paris and not Stuttgart is as interesting as the car is to look upon.
The styling of the Porsche 914 was, and is today, polarizing in opinion. Some love it, some hate it. It certainly broke the mold of what a Porsche is supposed to look like to many when it was introduced. A joint venture between Volkswagen and Porsche, the original intent was to market the car with a flat four-cylinder engine as a Volkswagen and with a flat six-cylinder engine as a Porsche. Sometime during development Porsche decided that having Volkswagen and Porsche models sharing the same body might dilute the brand’s hard-earned reputation as an upscale performance car in the lucrative American market, and convinced Volkswagen to allow them to sell both versions as Porsches in North America.
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