January in Canada. Unsurprisingly, the temperature is hovering around the -10ºc mark, dusty snow swirls in spindrifts in the streets and sellers of used classic cars huddle for warmth in front of their fireplaces waiting for the more congenial spring weather to flog their wares… “Sigh”.
So here I was again at a dealership. My visit to the place with the Alfas had been a positive one so I was a little more amenable to the idea of a middleman, and besides, showrooms tend to be warm and reasonably roomy, whereas if I do find a car for sale by a private party, I’ll likely be poking around with a flashlight in a freezing, tightly packed garage trying to view a car under a tarp.
This is the first Porsche 914 I’ve looked at, so I’ve nothing to compare it to, but I do know the cars well enough to see that this one had been comprehensively modified. I know that there are various schools of thought on this, but I’ve always felt that the design is what it is and the “dressing up” of cars should be avoided or at least kept to a minimum, and I suspect that from a “value” perspective that originality is preferable. Immediately then, I saw this car as a bit of a “toy”. The stock wheels and tyres had been replaced with wider versions, fender flares are added on all four fenders and the front and rear had a (to my eye) poorly integrated front and rear bumper that were very “busy” in appearance. The rocker panels had been removed and replaced with what looked like vacuum formed polyethylene panels that had a gap to the body and had begun to warp behind the door line on both sides. I suppose with all of these modifications, the rear wing was inevitable.
The white paint looked fairly new, but the paint job wasn’t exceptional. Surprisingly the underside of the car was painted which struck me as unusual, and the white paint made it easy to see that the floor was exceptionally solid. Even more surprisingly, what little I could see of the top of the engine through the narrow access space behind the cab was painted white too. Fit generally looked good, except, as noted, for the add on rockers and bumpers which had some areas which, because of the design of the after market bits, didn’t actually conform perfectly to the car body. The rear lens between the tail lights was cracked from top to bottom. The interior was reasonably good, though there were small tears in the seats and the headliner was sagging at the rear of the targa top.
Sitting in the car was interesting – it’s very low and has something of a “go-kart” feel – in a good way. There’s something a little spartan about this which is pure Porsche… for instance, the passenger seat can’t be adjusted; it’s built into the rear of the cabin. Needless to say there’s nowhere for my dog in this car. Oddly, I found that the pedals were a little more to the centre than I would have expected. I think I could get used to this, but my first reach for the pedals had me finding the brake pedal where I would have expected the accelerator. There is a centre console in this car with gauges between the gear tunnel and the dash, which I prefer to the versions without same.
All told, this was a nice car, but not my cup of tea. The price being asked for this was close to $20,000, and I could almost see myself spending that were the car closer to original spec and in slightly better nick. Still, this thing looks like it would be a blast to drive, and I expect it will find a buyer sooner rather than later – but it won’t be me.