The Viper Green Porsche featured here may have the general profile and dimensions of a 914, but it’s probably about as extreme as road-legal, classic Porsches can get. The bright green paintwork and somber black trim and wheels conspire to give it the appearance of something you might see a bad guy driving in Mad Max.
According to Alex Malatesta, the Phoenix, Arizona resident who owns the car, the car was originally supposed to be a somewhat under-the-radar, flat black 914 with V8 power. “I was trying to go low-key,” he admits. That changed when he saw a 1973 Porsche 911 RSR painted in Viper Green, which also happens to be one of Porsche’s most eye-popping in their catalogue of vintage colors. Malatesta also owns a tree-trimming and landscape company, so the bright green hue is pretty appropriate for his weekend toy.
There is no shortage of 914’s that have been modified with some form of wider fender flares. But the styling of this particular one was borne out of necessity. Underneath the dramatic bodywork is an extensive, handmade, tubeframe chassis, necessary to accommodate a 7.0-liter, supercharged V8 along with the suspension setup and massive wheels and tires needed to reign in that power.
“Originally, my goal was to get 700-hundred horsepower,” says Malatesta, a laid back enthusiast given to understatement. “But for now the supercharger is just too small.” When we photographed it, the 914’s American V8 produces 550-hp. Which, when combined with an incredibly light 2240-lb car, which as we found out on a brief test drive, makes for some startling performance.
Malatesta was introduced to Porsches when he was 13 years old and sweeping the floors at a shop that worked on 356s and air-cooled VWs. When he was older, he acquired a 944 Turbo, which he owned for a short time. Five years went by without another Porsche in the garage. One day though he decided to build a V8-powered 914. The car’s light simple construction combined with V8 brawn seemed like an easy path to automotive nirvana.
Like many projects of this scope and magnitude, the reality was a bit different. An ex-race 914 served as the starting point. “I bought it and started to put a V8 motor in it,” says Malatesta. While he originally planned on building the car himself, once he was elbow deep in the project, he realized it might be the better part of valor to enlist some assistance in order to make the project a reality. Though initially he simply provided parts and advice to Malatesta, Jim Patrick of Patrick Motorsports in Phoenix, AZ would end performing the heavy lifting on the build. Patrick Motorsports is known for incredibly high quality, concourse level builds and restorations on air-cooled 911s and 914s. And with a lot of experience in transplanting high-powered 911 flat-6s into 914s, they were a logical fit for this particular build.
The heart of this green beast is no doubt the massive, 7.0-liter, 427 c.i., small-block aluminum V8 that is cradled by a maze of custom chassis tubing. Sourced from World Products and nicknamed the “Motown,” the V8 utilizes a Scat forged crankshaft, Scat rods and high quality Mahle pistons, the result of which is a forced induction friendly compression ratio of 9.0:1. AFR (Air Flow Research) heads were then bolted to the block with sturdy ARP headstuds. Along with extensive porting and polishing, the heads benefit from larger stainless steel valves, roller rockers and a custom-ground camshaft from Comp Cams. Atop all of this V8 goodness is a Roots-style Wieand 177 supercharger, fed fresh air via a custom fabricated intake. The result is right around 550 horsepower.
Originally, Malatesta has planned on mating the V8 up the stock Porsche 901 gearbox that the car originally had. Jim Patrick quickly put an end to that theory when he explained that there was no way that the gearbox could handle the kind of power the owner wanted. The solution was the adoption of a much stronger G50/52 5-speed from a Porsche 965 Turbo. The gearbox is installed upside down due to the fact that the ring and pinion design cannot be reversed as it can be on a Porsche 901 or 915 gearbox. To cool the transmission, Patrick Motorsports installed an external oiling system with its own oil filter, Setrab cooler and Tilton oil pump.
The gearbox is controlled through a hybrid clutch with a Sachs Race Engineering Porsche 997 GT2 pressure plate and a Patrick Motorsports 240-mm 6-puck, sprung-hub disc. The result is a clutch that does not chatter and is also relatively easy to modulate, that latter of which was accomplished with a 993 hydraulic master cylinder.
Surrounding the massive powerplant is some of the original 914’s chassis. The rest of the chassis was entirely hand-fabricated. Rather than just weld on the tube-frame portions to either end of the 914’s tub, the tubing extends right through the car, making it far more rigid. “We also cross-braced it, so it’s a unitized platform for all that horsepower and torque,” says Jim. A new bulkhead was fabricated between the cockpit and engine bay.
Next up was finalizing the Porsche’s brakes and suspension. At the front, the stock 914 components were replaced with 911 lower control arms with Patrick Motorsports billet delrin bushings. 935-style front struts were modified with raised spindle. There also specially-valved Bilstein shock absorbers, 275-lb Eibach springs and billet upper strut perches. A 25-mm Tarrett adjustable anti-roll bar reduces lean in corners while 5-lug 911 hubs were fitted with longer 72-mm wheel studs.
The rear uses Koni Yellow adjustable shocks with 300-lb springs. Patrick Motorsports adjustable rear toe links were installed, which hard-mount the rear suspension to the chassis with a solid rod that is adjusted via heim joints on either end. The rear suspension pickup points were reinforced and boxed with 1/8-inch plate steel for added rigidity.
Porsche 993 Twin Turbo rotors and calipers with PBR ceramic/metallic brake pads provide quick stopping. The rear brakes were sourced from a 993 Turbo, and braided steel lines and a 23-mm master cylinder round out the brake upgrades.
Bogart Wheels of Phoenix, AZ provide a set of Road Race 10 wheels that measure 17x10 up front and 17x12 at the rear. “When we got them they were fully polished,” recalls Jim. “But that just did not look right.” The wheels are now a far more appropriate shade of satin black. Michelin Pilot Sport Cups sized 275/40ZR17 up front and 335/40ZR17 at the back provide much needed stick.
The exterior of Malatesta’s 914 delivers a visual punch as impressive as the race-spec suspension and blown V8. The front end is a one-piece design that was fabricated from two fiberglass fenders and a hood. The doors are some of the few parts remaining that the car left the factory with. The rear bodywork is comprised of a one-piece clamshell from Sheridan Motorsports.
A handmade, adjustable aluminum wing towers over the 914’s trunk. Under the rear ‘bumper’ is an evocative GT3-style exhaust and aluminum underbody diffuser the latter of which is powdercoated matte black. Running down the car’s side are aluminum side skirts. A pair of 944 Turbo driving lights were modified to function as low and high beam headlights, while the front turn signals found just aft of the headlights were sourced from a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the rear are 911R-style taillights in Patrick Motorsports 914 housings.
In person and on the road, this 914 is about as hot, noisy and exciting as road-going versions of Porsche mid-engine classic come. Inside, the driver is surrounded by a maze of metal tubing, a lot of hard-edged aluminum and, thankfully, a little Alcantara, found on the Kirkey race seat. Carpeting? What kind of wimp are you?
Flip up the red safety cover for the starter allows me to engage the toggle switches that control the fuel pumps and ignition. The fuel pumps buzz for a moment (through the ear plugs I’m wearing) and then I depress the black ignition button to the left of the wheel. The 7.0-liter, supercharged V8 just behind me explodes to life with a deep, hard-edged rumble that can only come from a hot-rod, American V8.
Clutch effort is hefty, but also chatter-free and smooth, though point of engagement is a bit narrow. Accelerating onto a long freeway onramp, the motor has a flat torque curve, which in turn provides unabated acceleration in any gear. Triple digits are breached with a brush of the gas pedal, but it’s not scary. The chassis feels like it could take just about anything you wanted to throw at it, even more power.
The G50/52 gearbox slots home with rifle bolt precision. We didn’t test the Porsche’s limits, but there was no discernable bodyroll around corners and handling was neutral at our conservative cornering speeds. The steering is on the heavy side but delivers quite a bit of feedback, and overall the suspension is compliant enough to remain relatively civilized since it’s able to soak up most bumps and dips. In most ways this outlandish 914 is closer to a full-on racecar than a streetcar. And from our perspective, that’s one of the reasons it’s so appealing.