After 9 years and 135,000 miles of FULL TIME driving my 1973 914-2.0 in just about all types of conditions & locations - I can be a pretty good judge of this fun, reliable and affordable sportscar. I wish VW had done as well on reliability 15 years later with my `88 Westfalia Camper Van GL!
The idiots who put down the 914 and try to negate it as "not a true Porsche" are full of hooey, & do NOT know what they're talking about - nor do they know about or refuse to recognize the true Porsche history.
For the latter point, the original 356 "Bathtub" Porsches and later 912's were Porsche crafted bodies, with souped-up VW engines & transaxles - EXACTLY THE SAME AS WAS THE 914 DESIGN!
Unfortunately, this unfounded poo-pooing has artificially depressed the 914s' values, as happened initially with the 356s - when they too were first negated as not being "true sportcars" by the "supposed experts", because of their lowly VW roots!
As a matter of fact - the 914 handles FAR SUPERIOR to either the 356, 912 or 911 (and derivatives therefrom), being mid-engined with about a perfectly balanced 50:50 weight ratio front-to-rear (see above for how to get the original 48:52 to 50:50). The mid-engine layout was a small price to pay, for the loss of the dinky & useless rear seats of the 911/912. Also note that the bathtub 356 didn't have much of a rear seat - but more of a package shelf!
All things being equal (load, engine size/output) - a 914 will turn corners around the equal 912 or 356, and usually will beat its contemporaries of 911's with more powerful 6's - e.g.: the `67 -`76 911's, 911-E, 911-L, etc.! Even a more powerful 911-S & 930's will often lose out in cornering to a strong 914, due to the 911/930's notorious & problematic understeer caused by its rear engined layout! Which is probably why those self-proclaimed officianados are so ticked and try to run down 914s! Wouldn't you, if you had paid a huge wad for the top end Porsche, only to find it beat by the entry level 914!?
If Porsche had instead elected to refine the 914 - as it did with other models, then it would have out-sold the 924/944 series. The proof is that the 924/944 series is gone, but even it had been refined for a while. And now Porsche has brought back the mid-engined Boxsters - NOT some new front-engined & rear transaxle/rear wheel drive 944++ version! Like the 914 - the Boxster was originally conceived with a 4 cyl engine, then later with a 6, then a bigger/more hp 6-S! I contend that the Boxster is the reborn 914!
For 914's - all the difference is in the 95 hp 2.0 engine, as the 1.7 & 1.8's are just too low powered at 75 & 85 hp respectively (stock, and they can all be "juiced up" some more). Most reviews rate the smaller engined 914's as underpowered, whereas the 2.0's are peppy - if not screamers. The few 914-6 2.0 L were screamers, but hard to come by, very pricey, and were much harder and more costly to maintain its 6 cyl. Porsche engine - the same engine as 911-E of the day. 914-6's easily beat even the top end 911-S in a twisting road course, because of the superior handling and balance of the mid-engine design!
The 914 also had the groundbreaking fuel injection system which most new cars have today (along with it's VW contemporaries - 411 & 412). This gave it good power on demand - regardless of elevation and atmospheric conditions (den.alt. for those of you pilots out there), and without the too rich fuel mixture of carbureted engines in cold weather &/or high alt. It also gave it exceptional gas mileage - over 30 mpg flat out on the highway, and 35+ mpg when cruising, or 25-30 mpg around town.
I also agree with others, that the stowable removable hardtop - leaving the roll bar and rear window - was great. First, the aerodynamics of the top-off & windows-up car were such, that you could drive in a pouring rain and not get wet in the cockpit - until you stop! They also had a split cockpit heater vent system, so you could put cooler air in your face (important to prevent drowsiness while driving - especially on long trips), with warm/hot air at your feet - for full comfort in cool/cold weather with the top off - even in the snow!
Second, the top stowed in the rear trunk at the top rim in 4 metal reinforced rubber clips, leaving almost full baggage capacity there too. That enabled you to lift the aft edge of the stowed top as a sort of 2nd trunk deck lid for access underneath. Then there was the second front trunk to boot! So you had more than enough luggage & gear capacity for 2 on a long cross country trip.
I regularly made 1000-2000 miles round trip jaunts - even CAMPING out of my 914 - with plenty of room for the tent, sleeping bags, folding cots & chairs, campstove, food/small cooler & gear - plus luggage for clothes. The San Diego to San Francisco along Pacific Coast Hwy. SR-1 jaunt was a regular 4+ Day summer trip for 9 years - as well as to the mountains, deserts and other longer trips throughout the Southwest & West.
They also have ski and bike racks which mounted from the rear of the roll bar (3 screw mount holes are on the underside at each side of the roll bar - to the rear of the trunk lid or bumper. With these, I've carried 4 sets of skis - 2 left & 2 right - downhill & crosscountry, or 2 bikes (1 each side). and their clever design still allowed you to remove/stow and replace the top in/out of the trunk!
The cockpit is well laid out, with easy to read instruments (the 2.0 had the benefit of an extra 3 gauge center consol under the dash for engine temp., ammeter and oil pressure), and was extra wide & roomy for 2 passengers - with plenty of legroom & elbowroom for my biggest 6'-7+" 275+ lb. Rugby teammates (I'm only 5'-9").
However, I've done some in-town and short trips with a 3rd person sitting on the center cushion/map compartment cover (another extra on the 914-2.0 vs. 1.7/1.8). However, today you'd need to add a 3rd seatbelt to do that. We also did the 914 version of "stuff the Bug" - getting a dozen people into the cockpit (top off), and gong through the local Wendy's drive-thru for orders - backwards - i.e.: in reverse! I'm still not sure who enjoyed my shifting the 5 spd. stick for that trip more, me or???!!! ;-)
One post said that they had their 914-2.0 up 136 mph, but I only got mine up to 126! Of course, that was at midnight on I-15 winding through the Virgin River Gorge (AZ/NV/UT 3 corners area), on the way up to Park City, UT for a Rugby Tournament - not on the flat straightaway in daylight! ;-)
I'd traveled a lot in the 914, and it was always easy to find parts on the road - if needed (which was NOT often), since the VW 411 & 412 parts fit most engine and running gear of the 914's. That's the advantage of common parts - when you're in Podunk wherever - and that country mechanic "...t'ain't never see'd wonna dem Por-chees, but he has a VW sittin' on that there lift over ta' yonder!
My initial $4500 investment was well worth it - as was another $3000 4-1/2 years later to rebuild the engine & transaxle, and to repaint it to the metallic gunmetal grey (charcoal) of the newer late 1970's to early 1980's Porsche color. Now I need to invest again to bring it out of storage, and back on the road for fun!
In 1976 when I first bought it, I'd compared the value retention of 914s & 912s, with 240 Z's, MGBs, etc. - and the Porsches were far better over the first 3-6 years back then. So if those whiny pseudo-officianados would just stop nay-saying the 914s, hopefully its value will eventually attain the lofty values of the 356s and early 911s/912s.
The 914 - especially the 2 Liter - is a Great car, and very reliable and economical - even on long trips in harsh weather - desert to mountains/snow - always worked well. Can't wait to get it running again - nor can my 17 year old son!
Hope this has been helpful to someone!