Lee jacob's 1972 Porsche 914
The 914 was always a driver's car. Low curb weight, engine in the middle of the chassis, and the center of gravity of an ant, it corners like nothing else on the road. Of course, like any other car, it has its shortcomings. Besides being known as the "poor man's Porsche," it was notoriously underpowered-unless you got your hands on one of the 914/6s that made their way to these shores.
What you see before you is not a 914/6. A closer look at the fenders front and rear will reveal that. The sixes had squarish wheel flares front and rear while this '72 914 has had only its hindquarters widened at the rear by Custom Auto Body in Phoenix, Ariz.
Like a base runner on second, these fenders are all about the steel. You can't tell right away, since like the rest of the car they have been sprayed a Glasurit 21 line toner yellow, the yellow from which all other yellows are derived.
With this burly body, the anemic 1.8-liter powerplant couldn't be left in the engine bay, so Beck's Independent Porsche in Scottsdale tore that out and dropped the '82 3.0 liter SC CIS motor in its place. A Rich Johnson motor mount ensures proper fitment of the motor, mounting it an inch lower so that cutting into the rear trunk is not required. The conversion does however force the elimination of the drip pan and the trunk latch.
A 3-liter motor, stock at 204 hp, would represent a significant power gain, but with Viton seals and O-rings, new valve guides and 9.3: 1 compression, the motor is putting out nearly twice that of a stock 914. According to owner Lee Jacob, it dynoed at 240 hp at sea level in Arizona before the he found it and brought it back to Colorado. Jacob is a Boulder native who bought his first 914 in 1990.
"I sold a 944 and my first 914 in order to acquire muscle cars," he says. "But living in the Colorado Rockies and driving the canyons reignited my interest in sports cars. This yellow beauty demanded my attention. One drive and that was enough to know this car belonged in the mountains."
So, it was with great enthusiasm that this reporter found the keys handed to him. I've always had a special affinity for the 914; it was my first car right out of high school. Of course, having owned a Honda Hurricane right before the Porsche sort of made the car's "raw power" seem even more meager, but knowing that Jacob's version was powered by Porsche and not VW made the idea of reliving my first vehicle a lot more enticing.
I settled into the custom hand-stitched leather and suede interior. My left foot pushed straight forward to the clutch as I eased the 901 transmission with a strengthened intermediate shaft down and to the left for first gear, the clutch had a familiar tension to it. I moved from first into second as we pulled out of Red Rocks parking lot and embarked on the 15-mile journey across town toward the necessary "second location."
The highway entrance contained a sharp right-hander, followed by a left. The combination of Bilstein and Koni Sport adjustables, Weltmeister springs, and of course the mid-engine weight distribution, kept body roll nearly imperceptible through this chicane as I eagerly rode the ass of quickly oncoming traffic.
Throttling down through the barrage of sweepers that make up 285 west of Denver finally allowed the 3.0-liter flat six to start breathing and get into its powerband, while the Comple custom wheels wrapped in Dunlop Sport 9000s did a stupendous job of gripping the road.
Jacob didn't bat an eye as I rowed through the gears, the only drawback to the experience being the slight doughiness of said shifts. As we weaved through traffic on a straight section of the highway, the speedo soared as we approached our destination. The final highway interchange ended up being a sweeper that called for a downshift and a subsequent passing of multiple cars before squeezing into the exit lane.