It’s all about the pedigree, people.
Is this Porsche 914 really worth a million dollars?
When Porsche and Volkswagen got together to produce a mid-engine sports car, it was never supposed to be expensive. The 914 was Porsche’s entry-level model after the 912 and before the 924, and for many years 914s were just about the cheapest thing with four wheels and a Porsche badge. What on earth, then, is this car up for auction in Scottsdale next week doing with a $1 million presale estimate?
First off, it isn’t your dad’s 914. It’s a race-ready 914/6 GT, essentially a 914/6 on steroids and one of 16 built for customers in 1970 (other cars were upgraded to GT spec later). It also boasts excellent period racing history, including a class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona and a fourth in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring. If it sells at Gooding & Company’s annual Scottsdale event, it will be by far the most expensive 914 to ever change hands at auction.
While the four-cylinder 914/4 was assembled at a Volkswagen plant in large quantities (over 115,000 from 1970–75), the 914/6 got the 2.0-liter flat-six from the 911T and, due in part to its high price, Porsche built just 3332 examples from 1970–72. The 914/6 is rare and quick enough in its own right, but where the 914/6 is a different kettle of fish from its four-cylinder VW-powered cousin, the 914/6 GT takes things to yet another level.
This being a Porsche, track capability takes priority. For the body of the 914/GT, Porsche added steel fender flares to accommodate wider Fuchs alloy wheels and fitted fiberglass deck lids, rocker panels, and bumpers. On went antiroll bars at both ends and the ventilated brakes from the 911S. Porsche swapped out rear and side windows for Plexiglas and outfitted the 914/GT with an extra front oil cooler, a long-range fuel tank, and a competition interior. Three engine configurations were offered for the 1991cc flat-six, the hottest of which was up to similar specs as the Carrera 6 (aka the 906). That engine included big-valve cylinder heads, dual ignition, higher compression, and a special crankshaft. The result was 210 horsepower, though up to 220 was possible—either figure was plenty for a car that weighed in at around a ton.
The 914/6 GT first showed its promise at the Nurburgring in May 1970 with second through fifth place in its class. Then, at Le Mans the following June, a lone 914/6 GT driven by Guy Chasseuil and Claude Ballot-Lena won the GT category and finished sixth overall behind two Porsche 917s, a 908, and two Ferrari 512Ss. A 911S finished seventh. Only seven cars classified as finishers that year, but the 914 made it look easy, managing to run the entire race on the same tires and brake pads. It even managed 13.56 mpg. At the Marathon de la Route at the Nurburgring in August, 914/6 GTs swept the first three places.
More success followed for the 914/6 GT in 1971 and this car, chassis #9140431017, gave Porsche one of the 914’s biggest ever victories. Originally built as a standard 914/6 but converted to GT specs before it left the factory, it got the highest-spec engine and sold new to French Canadian Jacques Duval, who got his start in racing with a 356 before moving on to more serious machinery like a 904 and a 906.
Sponsored by Sunoco of Canada, the car made its debut in January at the ’71 24 Hours of Daytona, where it won its class and finished seventh overall behind much larger and faster Porsche 917s, Ferrari 512s and two Corvettes in the over-2.5-liter class. At the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, it finished a still-respectable fourth in class behind two 911s and another 914/6 GT driven by Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg for the Brumos team. That car went on to win the very first IMSA GT Championship.
Duval’s car, meanwhile, went back to Canada after Sebring and won the ’71 6 Hours of Saint Croix and took a class win that same year at the Carnival at Three Rivers. It then sold to its second owner, who used it as a road car in the 1970s. A subsequent owner autocrossed it competitively in the 1980s to two SCCA Division championships. It has since been returned to its original Sunoco of Canada livery and was shown at Amelia Island in 2015.
As one of Porsche’s ultimate racing 914s, this 914/6 GT has a lot going for it and could very well become the most successful 914 ever sold at auction. But is it really worth seven figures? RM Sotheby’s sold another 914/6 GT for €241,250 (about $296,300 at the time) in Paris last year, and that holds the 914 record. For reference, a 914/6 GT carries a #1 value of $305,000 in the Hagerty Price Guide.
In the racing world, however, not all cars are treated equally. It’s all about provenance. “This car’s value is less about its 914-ness and more about its history, which is superb,” according to Rob Sass, editor of the PCA’s Panorama magazine. Whereas the 914/6 GT from Paris was built to GT specs by privateers and has impressive but not exceptional rally history, Gooding’s 914 up for grabs in Scottsdale got the GT treatment at the Porsche factory and has a major race win to its credit, both of which make it a much more desirable car.
What else would million bucks buy you in Porsche-land, you ask? A very good 1973 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight, a 959 Komfort, or a 993 GT2. While we’re on the topic of race cars, Gooding also sold a 600-hp, Nurburgring and Australian Sports Car Championship-winning 1977 934/5 for $1,187,500 last August and an IMSA GTP-spec 962 sold for $960,000 on Bring a Trailer that same month.
Maybe a million dollars for a 914 still seems steep. Consider, then, that an ultra-rare 916 sold for €928,000 (about $1,051,100 at the time) in Paris last year as well. Intended as the 914/6’s replacement and fitted with larger engines, wider wheels, and other enhancements, the 916 never made it to production and only 11 were built.
The 916 is even scarcer than the 914/6 GT, but rarity isn’t the only variable in the equation. The 916 doesn’t have racing glory to its credit and it still notched the equivalent of over $1M; this 914/6 GT is less rare but has a champion’s pedigree. Expect that pedigree and on-track accomplishments to figure heavily in the 914/6 GT’s final price. In light of 2018’s 916 sale in Paris, and after sifting through the details of this 914/6 GT’s heritage, the estimate on this Scottsdale car doesn’t seem quite as staggering as it did at first glance. We’re very curious to see what it does on the block next week.
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