Porsche 914 gains respect at Amelia Island Concours

A 1970 Porsche 914-6 at the recent Porsche Werks Reunion in Monterey | Bob Golfen
A 1970 Porsche 914-6 at the recent Porsche Werks Reunion in Monterey | Bob Golfen

The 914 is the Rodney Dangerfield of Porsches. The little mid-engine sports car gets no respect, at least not within the vast pecking order of status-seeking Porsche owners.

But the Porsche 914 has lured plenty of fans over the years with its exceptional handling, spare styling and renowned durability. However one might view the 914’s humble VW origins and its role as an entry-level model, there can be little doubt that the Targa-topped two-seater is a pure sports car in the Porsche tradition.

In 2015, the Porsche 914 gets a major boost in prestige. Porsche’s first mid-engine production car has been named an honored marque for the 20th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance of Florida, one of the top classic car events in the nation.

As such, it joins the ranks of some of the world’s greatest vintage automobiles in this celebrated concours, where 250 rare and noteworthy vehicles compete for awards. The event takes place March 13-15 at The Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton Resort.

The 914-6 GT driven by Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg at Sebring in 1971 | Bill Warner
The 914-6 GT driven by Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg at Sebring in 1971 | Bill Warner

“The 914 is a true Porsche with pure Porsche DNA,” said Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours. “The 914 was raced and rallied successfully all around the world and, like the 911, a cult has grown up around it. It’s time the 914 had its day in the sun.”

The 914, produced from 1969 through 1976, will be celebrated in all its iterations and performance development, according to a concours news release, with an emphasis on its many successes as a “giant killer” on the race track. Its racing accomplishments helped the lowest-priced Porsche also find a high level of success in the showroom, where it quickly outsold the pricier 911.

“It was fashionable with some self-proclaimed Porsche purists to consider the 914 an ‘ugly duckling’,” Warner said in the news release. “That changed very quickly.

A rare 1972 Porsche 916, one of just 11 built, formerly owned by Peter Gregg | Bill Warner
A rare 1972 Porsche 916, one of just 11 built, formerly owned by Peter Gregg | Bill Warner

“Here in north Florida, the Porsche 914 found a home and willing customers through the racing exploits of Peter Gregg, Hurley Haywood and Brumos Porsche, who took the 914/6 GT to victory in the first IMSA GT race in history on the way to winning the first IMSA GT Championship title in 1971.”

Haywood, five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona, noted, “The 914/6 GT was my first real race car. Peter Gregg and I shared the Championship in 1971 in my first year of professional racing. The 914 was really fun to drive and we would kill the big-block Chevys and Fords in IMSA.”

At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 2.0-liter 914/6 GT not only won the French classic’s GT class in its 1970 debut, it finished sixth overall, the first GT car behind the pure prototypes that had more than twice the 914’s engine displacement and power. The self-appointed Porsche purists were chagrinned that the class-winning 914/6 GT finished three laps ahead of the top-placed 911.

The Amelia Island main event, the concours d’elegance, takes place March 15 on fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island. Among the other special and featured classes at the Amelia Island Concours will be a showcase of Cars of the Cowboys, a selection of unique custom cars driven by the Western stars of film and TV.

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is a charity event that benefits Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast.

For more information, see ameliaconcours.org.

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