After a six-year absence, the 912 was re-introduced to North America for the 1976 model year as the 912E to fill the entry-level position left vacant by the discontinuation of the 914, while the new 924 was being finalized and put into production. The Porsche 912E was a one-year only model, and was only offered for model year 1976 and the 912E (E=Einspritzung) was only offered in the US.
During the production run of May 1975 to July 1976, Porsche manufactured 2,092 of the 912E (E=Einspritzung), targeted only to the US market. By comparison, 10,677 (4,784 US) 911’s were built for the 1976 model year. At $10,845 MSRP, the 912E was $3,000 less than the 911S. The Porsche 912E was also the only 912 offered with a galvanized chassis that helped to overcome a common 912 issue; rust.
The 912E used the 911 chassis with the Porsche-designed 2.0 VW engine that was used in the 914. The VW “Type 4” engine was originally made for the 1.7 liter VW 411/412. The 912E uses a Porsche-designed 2.0 liter revision of the engine with a longer 71mm stroke crankshaft, new rod bearings and new pistons to increase the cylinder bore to 94mm. Power output was 86 bhp @ 4900 rpm and torque was 98 ft lbs @ 4900 rpm. The 912E’s Bosch L-Jetronic / Air Flow Controlled system was later adapted for the 911. The 912E has a 20+ gallon fuel tank, 30 mpg and 600-mile range.
Since the 912E uses the same chassis as the 911 it handles much like the 911, but with less power and weight. Frankly, we love it as an entry-level car because we find it to be more forgiving than a 911 to drive. As Road & Track noted when testing the car: “The 912E will obviously find favor with those who prefer a slightly more practical and tractable Porsche. It’s a car with almost all the sporting virtues of the more expensive 911S, yet its simpler pushrod 4-cylinder engine should make for better fuel economy and less expensive maintenance than the 911’s six”
The interior is the same as the 911, though some pieces were extra cost options including two of the five gauges. 14-inch Fuchs alloy wheels was a popular option; “Cookie-Cutter” alloy wheels were also available (it was rare to see a 912E with the standard 15-inch steel wheels). Other options were electric sunroof, 923/02 anti-slip differential, electric antenna (located on the passenger side front fender), power door mirrors, power windows, headlight washers, H1 headlamps. Air conditioning was a popular dealer-installed option. As a stopgap, the 912E was the single instance of “planned obsolescence” in Porsche history. With only 2,092 built, its one year-only model run, and the desirable qualities inherited from contemporary 911s, the 912E is one of the more collectible four-cylinder Porsches.
“The fittings are simpler in this model although in terms of materials, trim and finishing the 912E is of high Porsche quality. “The 912E is comfortable where the Carrera is harsh, rational where the Carrera is excessive.” Owners of 912’s were asked why they chose to buy a 912 instead of the 911 and the biggest over-riding response was because of the handling of the car.