In 1965, the Porsche 912 was introduced to the world as an entry level 911. Because the 911 was still a fairly new product replacing the Type 356, Porsche needed a cheaper version of their 911 in order for it to appeal to the general public. Through this strategy, the 912 was a hit and initially outsold the 911.
The 912 looked the same as a 911, but it had a horizontally mounted 4 cylinder engine which was a tweaked version of the 1.6 liter Type 616 engine used in the 356. This new engine had 5 less horsepower than the 356 but still delivered the same number of torque. It produced 102 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 91 lb/ft of torque at 3,500 rpm instead of 4,200 rpm in the old 356. The new body style paired with the tweaked engine resulted in better weight distribution, better handling, and better range than it’s Flat 6 counterpart, the 911.
In order to keep the price down, the 912 had less standard features than the 911 along with 2 missing cylinders. However, because of the same styling and similar performance, the 912 seemed like a good purchase to make, to new and previous Porsche clients. Porsche outsold their own 911 with the 912, making about 30,000 coupes and 2,500 Targas throughout its 5 year run.
The 912 was discontinued due to the 911 gaining popularity, but was reintroduced to the US market only as the 912E six years later. They only built about 2,000 912Es (10,000 911s to compare) but the 912E was a solid $3,000 less than the $10,000 911S. The 912E used a Porsche revised version of the VW Type 4 engine which boasted a 2 Liter Flat 4 instead of the VW’s 1.7 Liters. The new 912E was a perfect grand tourer, with its 30mpg, 20 gallon fuel tank, and a 600 mile range. The 912E has the same chassis as the 911 but because of the less weight over the rear axles, it was much less prone to oversteer.
Ultimately, the 912 is the less known, “poor man’s” 911. If Porsche was to introduce a new 912 that looked like a 911 but was cheaper with a tuned Cayman 4 cylinder, would you be interested in buying one? Let us know in the comments!
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