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914 newbie...need opinions

Hi,
I need some advice. I presently own a 84 944, and used to own an E30 BMW (IX). I have always wanted to own a 914, specifically to get one as a project car to learn some mechanics with. Now here are some of my questions.
1) Does the 914 make for a good car to learn on? Assuming the person working on it is a complete newbie in mechanics?
2) Is a 914 a bad idea for a newbie since parts are hard to come by?

Now, the 944 I have is pretty much mint, and I'm not sure I'd want to use it as a track car (have yet to step foot on a track, but want to start within 1-2 years). I was thinking sell the 944, pick up a 325is as an everyday/track car, and pick up a 914 project car to learn with? What do you guys think? The IX I had seems easier to work on than the 944, and offers some decent performance for the price. In any case, what would you guys do if you were in my situation? I am 22, so 944's seem to attract cops, hence another reason I'd like to sell it.

Thanks for the help
Old 12-30-2002, 07:29 PM
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If you are looking at 914's, buy the best RUST FREE car you can afford. 914's go from $4-7k for good to great cars. If you mean as a "project car" one that is sitting in someone yard with bushes and animals living in it for $500- forget it! Rust is very expensive to fix. Yes, I california you can find decent cars for $2500 and up but even they seem to be getting harder to find.
The 914 is easy to work on and parts are available except a very few items. 914's also make a great track car with a few mods.
Geoff
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Old 12-30-2002, 07:40 PM
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Most German sports cars are police magnets, so get used to it. The older they are, the more they stand out, though the cops may think the older ones can't get it (the tach!) up anymore.

Your trade-off, given your location, is it'll probably be easier for you to find a 325 than a 914, but the 914 will be easier to work on, and if your a newbie, you just can't beat Pelican's tech articles.

There is a thriving parts market on the web, but like Geoff says, hold out for that rust free chassis. Look for California or Arizona cars. Getting a masters degree in rust repair doesn't do squat for your driving skills. Check the classifieds on this BBS, Rennlist, or ask Brad or Mike Z to hunt one down for you.
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Old 12-30-2002, 08:09 PM
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General mechanics can mean different things. I have worked extensively on MGs, Porsches, Jags and domestic (mostly Corvette and plain ol' transportation). The British cars share a lot of design and are different than German and domestic. Same can be said for each. New cars I don't do, if you can't unbolt a steel bumper from it, I don't work on it.

That having been said, experience in those three types (I've never busted a bolt on an Italian or French job) gives a perspective that is handy when faced with a problem. The best way I know how to learn about cars is to take one completely apart down to the frame and put it back together. I did that in 1965 and I did it most recently in this last year and the year before that. '65 was a Corvette, 2001 was a '44 military Jeep and this year was a 914. You would probably learn more about general mechanics from the old Jeep. 914 have their specific issues as noted above; read rust, but old Jeeps have rust too. So, keep it as simple as possible even if that means a riding mower and do it from the ground up. Your second car will be better than your first. Don't start your dream car until you get your feet wet. That's my thought, I'm sure there are others.

Last edited by Zeke; 12-30-2002 at 08:28 PM..
Old 12-30-2002, 08:25 PM
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The 914's only real bugaboo that I've found is the rust. 914's rust if you look at them funny, they don't have the advantage of being completely (or even partially) galvanized like my 924S or your 944. The basic engine in the 914 tends to be quite reliable, though the FI can be a real PITA to troubleshoot if something goes wrong.

Engine access in a 914 is also a pain, even something as simple as changing plugs and wires can take a lot of time. (Though now that I've got the air pump removed from my '76 914 it's easier.) '75 and '76 914's run hot too, oil temps well in excess of 200 degrees fahrenheit on hot days are not at all uncommon.

914's tend to leak oil from the pushrod tube seals, and unless it has been re-done at some point, the top doesn't seal all that well with 25+ year old rubber seals. The transmissions in the 914 (even the "good" side-shifter) are nowhere near the quality of the 924S/944 transmissions. They are reliable, but the synchros are weak and the linkage is a bit vague. Also, the wipers rarely work properly, the "heater" is a bit of a joke, and the car is really quite noisy.

As much as I love my 914 (and I love it a lot more than my 924S), the basic fact is that the 914 is much, much more crude than the 924S/944. The 914 just doesn't really cut it as a potential daily driver even if I disregard the rust potential. On the other hand, the 914 is so much fun to drive that all the shortcomings don't matter.

Aaron
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Old 12-30-2002, 09:03 PM
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the type four engine is pretty straight forward. Get a book like Haynes, and take you time. That said, it has really pissed me off.
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Old 12-31-2002, 12:27 AM
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For me, my 914 has been a great car to learn some basic mechanic-ing on. Having no power accessories (power steering, ac), no liquid cooling parts (radiator, water pump), and no pollution controls (smog pump, egr, cat), this car is just what I need to learn on: one small engine and one small transmission. Some of the guys around here have the skills, experience, tools, and desire to take their car to a higher level. This car will let you do that! But for a novice like me, this car has been a manageable project to learn some wrenching on. I've been able to get my car running from a complete DOA status just using the archives here, the tech articles, and some occasional.........okay, frequent friendly advice from other readers.

As far as cost goes, parts are expensive for any vehicle these days. Pelican is great, though. The prices are good and my orders have always come really fast! Plus you get tech support.

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Old 12-31-2002, 05:35 AM
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Chris ,watch out that is Jamie Rusts line.
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Old 12-31-2002, 05:49 AM
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One great source of parts for all Porsches (and cars for that matter) is the annual mother-of-all Porsche swap meets in Hershey PA, usually run the last weekend of April by the central PA chapter of the PCA:

http://www.centralpaporsche.org/
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Old 12-31-2002, 05:49 AM
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I really didn't know squat about working on cars except the usual change oil, plugs & fuses. I didn't even "think" about touching the engine in the 82 'Vette I sold for this 914. I've learned more in the last 2 years about cars & how they work since I bought this little jewel than I ever thought I'd know (and I still have multitudes to learn!) Get one & have fun
bruce
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Old 12-31-2002, 07:55 AM
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The 914 is not the worst car in the world to learn on. There are better ones, though. A VW Bug is about as basic as you can get, and really is a good "learn to wrench" car. John Muir's "Idiot Book" explains in non-mechanic-speak what goes on and how to do all of the basic maintenance, and quite a few troubleshooting and repair procedures. (BTW, it works decently for 914s as well for newbie mechanics as well!)

The Bug parts are also cheaper than the 914 parts. This helps a lot, because when you are just starting out you will usually screw up a few parts the first time you mess with them. Or the second. And sometimes the third as well, if you're a klutz like me...

Learning on the 914 is very possible, but it usually isn't that cheap. Between tool purchases and "extra" parts purchases, it will often take a good while before you "break-even" with the money you would have spent just taking it to a shop. Then again, just taking it to a shop wouldn't teach you anything...

--DD
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:36 AM
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Having access to both 944(turbo's) and 914's, I can tell you this, the 914 is a Much easyer car to work on. My 914 is my first car, and im 16.Although having my dad at my side is very helpful, If you plan on doing all the work yourself, it would probably be a good idea to get Really good friends with a skillful 914 owner.

Parts arnt That hard to find, Ebay is a good place to buy things used and the kind people over here at Pelican has loads of new parts.

If you have cheap in mind, well you just have to be smart. Hehe, i have a Very small budjet and no income and i seem to be doing all right.

Just be smart,
Old 12-31-2002, 09:58 AM
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You'll learn different things working on different cars. I think it might be a better idea to work on the car you intend to use on the track though. Taking that car apart and putting it back together will help you understand what the car is "telling" you as you drive it. Working on a 914 and then driving a BMW on the track would be like preparing a a wonderful dinner with all the trimmings, putting it on the table, and then going to a resturaunt.

Anything mechanical is really not much more than a sophisticated puzzle - but each puzzle (type car) is very different. Example: if you learn to change the clutch in a 914, it won't teach you how to change the clutch in a 924. (I helped a "non-mechanic" friend do a clutch job on his 924. I had never done a 924 before. Now I break out in hives when I get too close to a 924. The 914 can be changed with a blindfold and mittens on by comparison).

While I don't work on cars professionally like several of the Board Members here,(I have disassembled 3 914's and a 75" Corvette, 2 snow blowers, 2 Lawn tractors and helped build a pair of Formula Vee racers) I agree if you are just beginning, you have to start slow, pick an area on the car, like brakes, and then take the whole brake system apart, follow a book and learn how each part of the puzzle functions. Ask alot of questions. Then as you put it back together, you'll really understand why the Germans engineer things with the philosophy: "Why use only one part when we can get by with 12".
Just some thoughts from a happy "backyard motorhead"
Don
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Old 01-01-2003, 01:32 PM
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