Had it been any other year, the Le Mans competition debut of the 914/6 GT would have been better noticed. Sixth overall and first in GT was a superb maiden effort on the Sarthe circuit, especially for a twoliter car. Alas, it paled to insignificance in 1970 in light of the 917’s three-car sweep and Porsche’s first-ever outright win. However, Porsche salesmen were clearly pleased with the 914/6 GT’s performance. Competition success might spur sales of the “Fourteener,” the VW-collaborated model which had opened to mixed reviews in the enthusiast press instead of the more usual raves that greeted new Porsches.
Just 3,350 six-cylinder variations of the 914 were built. The power train was all Porsche. The GTs were further upgraded with 911S brakes (908 brakes for long-distance racing), extra chassis stiffening, steel fender flares, front oil cooler, fiberglass bumpers and deck lids. Displacement remained two liters as homologated, but a full Carrera 6 top end on the engine upped horsepower to as much as 210. Unfortunately for the 914/6, the same money could buy a 2.5-liter racing 911 which would give its owner a much better chance for high overall placings. As a result, few 914s were raced.
The display car was one of three Porsche 914/6 GTs entered in the Marathon de la Route at the Nürburgring in August 1970. Sprint speed being unnecessary in this 86-hour car-punishing event, the engines fitted were stock 911S units putting out 160 hp at 7200 rpm. Racing 908 front brake calipers with their thicker brake pads were installed. This car ran as a Group 4 GT; the other two, with rear wheels one inch wider at eight inches, were relegated to Group 6 Prototype.
Three-and-a-half days of racing later, of the 64 starters in the Marathon, only 23 remained on the circuit. Ahead of the rest of the field by a wide margin were the three 914/6 GTs. They lined up to cross the finish line in a blaze of orange glory. How “punished” were they? One taillight bulb was broken, a couple of window cranks were loose, two fuses had blown, one tire had gone flat – in an aggregate 18,000+ racing miles.
Photos – Peter Harholdt
Briggs Cunningham was one of the first to use two-way radios at Le Mans in 1950 by installing them in both the LeMonstre and the Petit Pataud. You can see both cars at Revs. Learn more