Most car enthusiasts are most likely familiar with the Porsche 911, but some of them may not even know about a peculiar car designed by the company called Porsche 916. The 916 was introduced in 1971 and offered unique features that weren’t seen before in other Porsche models. What made the car so special? And why is it rare today? These questions about the rare vehicle will be answered as we take a closer look at the fascinating history of the Porsche 916
Origins of the 916
The Porsche 916 was introduced by the company at the Paris Auto Salon in 1971. The several has several unique features, including a sleeker appearance, flared fenders, a steel roof (Porsche is known for utilizing Targa top in their cars), and 7-inch wide Fuch five-spoke wheels. If you inspect the car from afar, you would realize that it resembles the Porsche 914; however, the 916 was introduced first before the 914, so it is safe to say that the latter borrow elements to the 916 to be its own model.
Besides the said features, the Porsche 916 also had fiberglass bumpers, which allows it to be a little bit lighter than the models that Porsche offered during the time. For its fog light, it has two small cutouts, while for its air dam, there is a large cutout at the front to serve as an oil cooler. At the back, the Porsche 916 has a small hole where the exhaust should be located.
If you take a look at its interior, there are leather seats, and the other parts of its insides are covered in velour. In addition, its door panels are made with lighter parts, which further decrease the weight of the vehicle. For its sounds, the 916 is equipped with a Becker AM/FM stereo radio that has a cassette slot if ever you want to listen to the cassette tapes of your favorite bands or artists.
Because of its lightweight parts, the estimated weight of the Porsche 916 is 2000lbs, making it significantly lighter than the 911. Furthermore, its lightweight body also allows it to move faster on the road, and Porsche stated that it could run for up to 145 miles per hour.
Porsche initially planned to build 20 prototypes or samples of the 916 in 1971, but because the company was having a difficult time getting parts for the vehicle, mainly due to the expensive price tag of the parts, Porsche was only able to produce 11 samples. It was even reported that only one sample was exported to the United States. That specific US sample was built to the specifications of the US roads and was transported to Brumos, a dealership that is known for selling high-end Porsche vehicles. The 916 US sample is currently displayed at the Automobile Atlanta 914 museum, and it has been there since 1990.
Since it is made of expensive parts, Porsche placed a price tag of $14,000 on the 916, which made it the most expensive Porsche vehicle in that period. Because almost no one was buying the 916, and since Porsche found it difficult to produce it, the company decided to cancel its production in 1972.
The design of the 916 was brought over to the Porsche 914, a mid-engined sports car that was produced by Porsche in collaboration with another automotive giant Volkswagen from 1969 to 1976. However, the top for the 914 was a Targa top instead of a steel top to make it removable.
Volkswagen and Porsche decided to have a partnership in the late 1960s because they both needed new models that will replace their best-sellers. For Porsche, the 914 serves as the replacement for the 912 (an entry-level car manufactured from 1965 to 1969), and for Volkswagen, the 914 is the replacement of the Type 34 Karmann Ghia (a 2+2 coupe/2+2 convertible manufacture from 1955 to 1974). Despite being a collaboration project, it was Porsche that handled most of the work in designing and producing the 914, as it was the agreement between Porsche and Volkwagen since the former’s founding that there will be obligations that are needed to be fulfilled for the latter. During the 1960s, Porsche only needed to perform one more task for Volkswagen, and Volkswagen decided that they should build a new vehicle together. What resulted in their partnership was the 914.
As opposed to the high price of the 916, the 914 is considered to be the cheapest Porsche that a car enthusiast can buy, although its resell value has significantly gone up over the years. In addition, because it was the last collaboration effort between Volkswagen and Porsche, many car collectors and enthusiasts hold the 914 in high regard, hence the reason why it has such a high resell value in the market.