Story and photos by Zach Mayne
“The 914 was my dream car in college,” says Paul Hach about his enthusiasm for Porsche’s increasingly collectible and sought after mid-engine, 70’s sports car. In 1975, he was able to make the dream a reality when he bought a barely used ’73 914 2.0-liter from a Porsche dealer in Des Moines, Iowa. Painted Delphi Green Metallic, the Porsche replaced Hatch’s then daily driver VW Dasher. “It was a huge step up from a Volkswagen and was a car that was designed for the young at heart. I was thrilled with it,” he reminisces. “It had better heat than a Bug and with snow tires on it had better traction.” The 914 went with Hach when he moved to Loveland, CO in 1976. “I still used it as a daily driver, but corrosion was beginning to become a struggle,” he admits.
In 1978, Hach became an active Porsche Club of America member. “I was mostly doing competitive stuff, autocrosses,” says Hach. His 914 soon benefited from a raft of upgrades, including better brakes, a stiffer suspension and a pair of down draught Weber carburetors for the flat-4’s motor. In 1980 and 1981, Hach won the Modified Four-cylinder class of the Alpine Challenge Series in the 914.
A growing family that was requiring more of his time meant that after a few years he had to curtail his competition driving. At the same time, several of the Colorado racetracks that he drove on were shut down. An occasional track day of autocross soon dwindled to brief drives around the block to keep the Porsche’s fluids circulating. Hach bought a brand new 996 Turbo so he could have some fun on the street and in the process nearly sold the 914 to someone who wanted to convert it to electric power. His sentimental attachment to the car won the day, so the 914 stuck around to live another day.
An article in a Porsche magazine about a 914 with a 3.6-liter, air-cooled flat-6 conversion from a later Porsche 911 inspired him to undertake a similar modification to his old 914 racer. A more modern driveline would allow him to use the car more, while a restoration of the body and interior would be bring it back to a better than new state. He also wanted a Porsche that would start on the first twist of the key, no matter what the weather was like. A fuel injected Porsche motor was just the solution.
Hach enlisted Jim Patrick and his company Patrick Motorsports in Phoenix, Arizona to handle the restoration and upgrade on the 914. As Jim Patrick explains, “the game plan for the look was to use a cool early Porsche color and to keep the car’s simple clean lines.” Once the body was stripped and a minimal amount of rust damage repaired, the 914 was resprayed in Jade Green, an unusual color that took a little encouragement on Jim’s part to convince Hatch to agree. To give the car a cleaner look, the vinyl covered sail panels and Targa roof were stripped to bare metal and painted the same shade as the bodywork. 914 GT-style front and rear bumpers were installed. Instead of being painted body color or chrome, the bumpers were painted in an understated shade of BMW Titanium Silver. Elsewhere on the body, the chrome accents such as the door handles and exterior mirrors were painted satin black.
The 3.6-liter motor that was chosen as the Porsche’s new powerplant was modified with higher-revving Supersport camshafts from Webcam, while the heads were ported and polished for better airflow. The pistons were re-ringed and in the interest of reliability the headgaskets were swapped for the better design that came on ‘92 and later 3.6-liters before everything was buttoned back up.
The engine’s electronics were upgraded and in order for the motor to fit into the engine bay of the 914, a modified air intake was also bolted in, providing the necessary clearance. The exhaust consists of B&B headers combined with a pair of high-flow, stainless steel Magnaflow mufflers. A SETRAB 500 Series competition oil cooler was installed behind the front bumper to keep the all important supply of engine oil cool. With 296-hp to the wheels at 6200 rpm and 235 lb-ft of torque, 914’s performance was now firmly in the modern realm.
The more powerful motor is mated to a 915 gearbox from a 911 Carrera, upgraded with a Patrick Motorsports’ clutch and flywheel kit. A WEVO shift rod system, which consists of cad-plated shift rods with needle bearing joints, ensures quick, easy shifting.
The original 914 suspension was upgraded with a 1980s-era 911 Carrera suspension, consisting of Bilstein Sport shocks and larger, 21-mm torsion bars from Sway-A-Way. There is also an adjustable 25-mm hollow sway bar from Tarett Engineering. The back of the Porsche uses Bilstein shocks as well, in this case combined with Eibach racing springs. An adjustable spring perch kit was also installed for ease of height adjustment and corner balancing. A Patrick Motorsports rear toe-rod adjustment kit makes adjusting the toe of the rear control arms much easier than the factory setup as well as offering a wider range of adjustments. Stiffer Delrin bushings were also installed wherever possible.
The 1980s parts bin was plundered again for the brakes, which are from a 911 Carrera. Steel braided lines provide a firm pedal when the PBR ceramic pads are called into duty. The 914's unflared body precluded the use of massive wheels and tires, so a set of 16x7 Fuchs alloys from the front of a 944 Turbo were installed at all four corners. In order to tie the exterior visuals together, the wheels were powdercoated in the same satin black that was used on the bumpers and trim. The Bridgestone Potenza tires that the Porsche rolls on are the same size at all four corners and measure 205/55ZR16.
Inside, this 914 remains very similar to its original spec. The original seats were recovered and are easy to get into and out of, a good thing considering how low the 914 is. A thick-rimmed MOMO Daytona steering wheel gauges that were restored by Hollywood Speedometer are the main standouts. There is a custom, 906-style three-way gauge- fitted with oil temperature, oil pressure and fuel level readings- as well as a restored dash top, new carpeting and simple RS-style door panels.
The somewhat clattery sound of the original flat-four has been replaced with a whirring 911 soundtrack overlaid in this case by the deep, hoarse rumble of the stainless steel mufflers. As expected, straight-line acceleration is of the neck-straining variety thanks to light car it powers. As I dip into the throttle, the scenery blurs and the engine note changes from a harsh bellow at lower rpms to a more insistent flat-6 howl as the revs rise, which they do quickly, the engine racing hungrily to redline. Shifting the freshly rebuilt and therefore tight-feeling 915 gearbox takes a little forethought, and rather than damage a shift fork with an overzealous shift, I opt for the slow and precise method of shifting.
The Porsche's steering is light around corners, the car changing direction quickly and going exactly where it’s pointed. Thanks to the narrow contact patch there is plenty of feedback coming from both extremities of the chassis. There’s also more power than grip, so playful oversteer is a throttle . On the stopping end, the brake aren’t exactly heroic, but they are up to slowing the 914 from the lofty velocities it so easily attains. A few minutes behind the wheel makes me fearful for my license, since I know all too well how overly zealous the Arizona Highway Patrol is when it comes to busting speeders. You can be certain that Hach is no doubt thankful that he didn’t sell the 914 to someone who was going to make it into an electric car. The changes wrought to it still make it electrifying, though for entirely different reasons.