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Hagerty Employee

A few things to know before you steal my 914

Dear Thief, Welcome to my Porsche 914. I imagine that at this point (having found the door unlocked) your intention is to steal my car. Don't be encouraged by my leaving the door unlocked, the tumblers sheared-off in 1978. I would have locked it up if I could, so don't think you're too clever or that I'm too lazy.
118 REPLIES 118
Intermediate Driver

Hey Norman that's some great writing.
I'm a book publisher in NYC and I would like to get together with you about doing a non-fiction novel. After that book sells out, which I'm sure it will, we will be getting contacted by film producers for doing a movie.
I'll look forward in hearing back from you.
Best regards,
Huntz Hall
Intermediate Driver

Do you still hang out with Leo Gorcey?
Intermediate Driver

I have often said that almost no one today could steal my '41 Plymouth:
First, open the hood and turn on the battery.
Get in the car and make sure the hand brake is set.
Check that the 3-on-the-tree shift lever is in neutral. (There is no labeling to let you know where neutral, or any other gear is.)
Next, put the key in the ignition and turn "on"
Next if the car was sitting more than a day or two, flip the switch for the electric fuel pump to push some gas into the carb. Shut it off when you hear the pump slow down.
Then pull out the choke
Then pull out the hand throttle a little bit.
Then pump the accelerator 3 or 4 times.
Then step on the starter pedal to engage the starter motor (the ignition key does not do this). Release the starter pedal if/when the engine starts.
Adjust the hand throttle and the choke till the engine is neither screaming, or stalling.
Depress the brake pedal and release the hand brake,
Now depress the clutch.
Try to find first (or reverse) gear on the column shifter.
Slowly let out the clutch, and let off the brake and give it some gas, but be ready with the brake pedal if necessary
You may be on your way, but keep in mind you probably don't know the shift pattern unless you looked at the owners manual.
Pit Crew

Ah, the joys of vintage car ownership. Great Car. Love It.
Pit Crew

The Mobil1 oozing through the gasket surfaces is called "self-rustproofing" in my circles.
Pit Crew

Very well written...absolutely hilarious. Reminded me of my test drive buying my longest, and currently, owned car, a '93 40th Anniversary Corvette 6 speed coupe almost 20 years ago. It had been a few years since driving my last stick vehicle and the seller was riding shotgun. Every time after coming to a stop, I'd push the shifter toward 1st and there's be a very noticeable clashing of gears. The seller made a few comments about my ineptness and I, of course, assumed that he was right and felt like an idiot. I ended up buying the car anyway and came to learn that it wasn't me, it was that the ZF 6 speeds in those years was notorious for having an average life span of well under 100K miles. It didn't take long to learn that 1st gear is rarely optimal and the 2nd gear synchros worked great. I have driven the car about 40K miles since with that same trans. I did find a good deal on what is hopefully a good used one about 4 years ago. It's still sitting under a workbench in my shop!
Advanced Driver

Genius! Bravo, Sir!

I am reminded of the guy the owned the highest mileage car ever who said that the trick is that you should never let more than two things be wrong with the car at any given time, doing that will keep the car going almost forever.

The other thing I remember is telling people on many occasions "Yes, it is a S***Box but it is my S***Box and it makes me happy".
Pit Crew

Hilarious piece!
Pit Crew

Another good deterrent to car theft is to take the distributer rotor with you when parked
in suspected theft areas. It is small enough and clean enough to put in your pocket or hide. I did this regularly with my 70's 240z. Only works with older cars though.

I would not, under any circumstances, leave my shift linkage in such a state. They were vague when new, but if that is indicative of the condition in the slightest then the car is not fun to drive, which is the major requirement in my old cars. A hidden kill switch is enough of a deterrent if the manual transmission (especially one with the dogleg shift pattern) is not.
Intermediate Driver

If I was unfortunate enough to own a vehicle that was that much of a “pita”,
I would beg someone to steal it and rig a hidden camera to record the comedy. I certainly would not treasure it.
New Driver

Ahhhhh...My new red 1975 Porsche 914. I believe it had the 1.8 engine. The worst car I have ever owned. I actually went to the dealer to buy a 911 but the guy saw me coming and talked me into a 914. He said it was cheaper and every bit as exciting to drive. He was half right. He never mentioned it was a glorified Volkswagen, but my buddies did. The car would never run. It was fuel injected. When I would drive it, you could never take your foot off of the gas pedal. When you did the engine would die. Try shifting that awkward 5 speed using your left foot to push the clutch and the brake and sit at stop lights with your foot on the accelerator. In cold weather, the windshield would get heavy frost all over the outside - and the inside. The inside of the car would be covered with ice shavings. My pants were wet by the time I got to work. The defroster did not work well and, as someone mentioned earlier the battery would run down. The locks would also freeze and I couldn't get in it without a hair dryer. I had it to the dealer multiple times. The last time they had it for two weeks so I was without a car. That was my only car. I was borrowing transportation from everyone I knew including my old uncle who drove a 1958 beat up gold Cadillac with probably 135,000 miles on it. The last time the dealer had it they finally called me and said it was ready. When I got there, they told me that parts they had ordered were not available and they had no idea how to fix it. I asked for the manager. He said there wasn't anything they could do so I said "What will you give me for it?" He said it's only 4 months old so I'm going to take a loss on it. I said "How much will you give me?" He said something like "$4,200". I said "Sold". I didn't want him to rethink his offer. I got a check, walked about 2 blocks down Fifth Street into the Pontiac dealer, looked around and liked the Silver Grand Prix SJ (black vinyl top of course). He asked me what I was trading. I said "Nothing" but here's a check from the Porsche-Audi dealer. Loved that Grand Prix! I've never owned a Porsche since. Never will.
Intermediate Driver

By far one of the funniest pieces I have read!!
Pit Crew

Fun and humorous article! Thanks. I keep telling myself that my steering wheel locking bar, probably a collector's item by now, will keep my 1965 MGB out of nefarious hands. But like your Porsche, it has enough quirks to prevent 99.9% of the nefarious types out there from getting it started, much less actually moving.
New Driver

I laughed so hard I thought I’d wet my pants! Very well written, also. It’s a true telling of the 1967 9/11 S that I bought after being heavily raced. We had a great relationship of hundreds of hours laying on a garage floor and rebuilding the car. It was an incredible and very rare four-speed.

Finally completed the car thanked me by self-immolation. A low pressure oil return hose, similar to a garden hose, costing all of $53 in the day that I neglected to replace ruptured and dumped all the oil on the headers.

Never forget or dismiss the little stuff!
Intermediate Driver

I can relate. Totally.
Especially as my 87 Grand National is in the shop getting a vacuum brake conversion and I have some oil on the exhaust manifold that's burning off.. AND my Porsche needs a few things to run tip-top. Thanks for the laugh.

So what time should I come over to steal the car, with your permission of course?

This is the most detailed list I have seen to get a car started and moving I think ever. I laughed the whole way though.
Intermediate Driver

Similar but different situation with my 57 Chrysler 300. There is no 'start' position on the ignition switch, just on and off. Start occurs when you push in on the Neutral button of the push button transmission (if you even know what a push button transmission is). If you manage to get the car started, you'll need to know about those R/N/D/2/1 buttons on the upper left hand side of the dashboard. You'll also have to realize the chrome lever down low on the left is the parking brake release lever that must be turned in a counter clockwise direction and then pushed in to release the brake on the driveshaft.
New Driver

Hey great read! It reminds me of several of the vehicles I have been the caretaker of over the years. I currently bounce around in a '60 TR3a with some serious idiosyncracies. I regularly forget to take the keys out when on a quick errand(the car is not the only thing/one with age). I laugh it off with the line " Most people alive today wouldn't be able to drive it!". It has a touchy clutch and transmission; don't get me started about the SU Carbs and their joys. But when its going down the road, we are one!
Intermediate Driver

I thought a manual gear box would be enough. I lent my 1965 Corvair to a friend a while back so he could propose to his girlfriend. I spent a good 1/2 hour explaining how to drive it and all of it's varied idiosyncracies.
She said yes.
Pit Crew

You've not deterred me in the least. As a matter of fact, it sounds much better than the previous two projects I've brought home, as well as the next one I've got in my sights (still not done with the last one). It also sounds as if you've fallen out of love with the little gem. I'd love to take it off your hands but, alas, I'm not a thief. It sounds like you are hoping for it to have a dramatic exit from your life, while I would wish to buy it and love it, sink double the car's value into restoring it, just to sell it for half of my investment. Hence the reason all of my car's have to be purchased as projects. Damn this circle...
Advanced Driver

Engineering degrees and driving junk cars? I guess that is o.k. with.... someone out there?
Among my group of highly skilled friends, we have always fixed the up the junk cars or just sent them away. Of course, we don't have the engineering degrees either.

I'm not manly enough to deal with gas fumes, questionable brakes and sputtering carbs. I'll stick with the Miata. Here's to modern-day chick cars: Hip, Hip, Hooray, and zoom zoom we go...:)
Pit Crew

Another reason why I subscribe to Hagerty... Great story. Amusing, and without any "political correctness". Thanks!!
Pit Crew

How far should I set the forklift forks apart when I pick it up and gently lower it into a U-Haul? Can you leave the title in the glovebox please?
Good read. So you're saying that if you had it to do over again, this is a car that you wouldn't even bother to steal?

For starters, most would be thieves aren't even going to know what a 914 is. Not many on the road today, and not easy to sell parts from. Sort of like my Rambler. Of course it has no shift quadrant on the column, so you have to know where the gears are. But it's an automatic, so that won't stop any determined thief, Drive is still the third position down from Park. Of course it almost always jumps straight to neutral, but if you pull it down twice after that you're still in 3rd (it's a Jeep AW4 four speed... 3+OD), so you'll be good. Almost. this trans has no computer. Instead there is a little metal box with a rocker switch and a rotary switch hanging off the right side of the console next to the driver's knee, or thereabouts. Right where you can easily keep your elbow on the center arm rest and turn the rotary switch (or hit the rocker). That rotary is really how you shift gears without a computer. The AW4 simply powers a combo of the two shift solenoids to shift, so it was easy to make a switch do the computing with a couple diodes. Both on is first, both off is fourth (OD), and the other two are one on/one off. I forget which is which, but that's what the diodes are for! I originally used a pair of toggles (mainly to test the solenoids when the spinner in the trans for the speed sensor lost it's magnet... and I thought the shift computer fried), but that was too easy to mix up 2nd and 4th gears. You CAN pull the shift lever all the way down and shift it manually with the lever instead of using the switch box, but I bet anyone trying to make away with it gives up by this time -- or they burn the trans or engine up by revving the heck out of it in first gear because it doesn't automatically shift "like it should"....

Yeah, there are niceties about owning a not popular car with a few quirks....
Pit Crew

I had both a 73 super beetle and a 70 beetle. This article perfectly describes my 1970 in 1986 when I was sixteen. To . A . Tee....
Pit Crew

You just combined all of my old cars into one. I can fix that 914 now.


Poor car...
Intermediate Driver

This sounds like every car I've owned before the age of 30.
Intermediate Driver

Fun piece! My three most theft proof vehicles were a '66 Chevy C20 stakebed, '67 MGB, and '72 Citroen SM. All stick, all manual choke (though I confess the SM's choke really didn't enter the picture much - it had its own peculiar starting routine, unsurprisingly). Loved them each and miss them all...
New Driver

When did LUCAS start making transmission linkage?

We were just joking yesterday about someone trying to steal my '55 truck... setting the choke exactly in the right spot... knowing you need to press the floor starter... and then knowing how to drive a 3-on-the-tree...

But the 914 has this beat in spades!! Very entertaining story that reminded me of my Fiat ownership days.
Intermediate Driver

I had the dubious pleasure of borrowing a friend's 914 (when it was still kind of a current model)
for a week while my Opel GT was in for bodywork from an off-course excursion during a gymkhana event...oops.
During the first 5 miles of driving it home, I experienced just how wacky an electrical system can be. Pulled the knob out for headlights and every light in the car went out - no running lamps, no dash panel lights, nothing. So, trusting to dumb luck, I pushed the headlight knob back in and had dash lights once again. Who needs headlights anyway while driving on a country road just after dark?

Intermediate Driver

Ha, my plethora of Saab Sonetts have similar cogboxes. The transaxle is just a tad forward of the firewall, BUT as R&T once wrote.... The gear selector lever is "VAGUE"... yeah, no kiddin'. It's a curious appendage, attached to a captive rod inside a piece of surplus gas pipe from the men's restroom at the Trollhatten factory Numerous attempts at finding "true neutral" will be registered by countless excursions in the circuitous route to several "FAKE neutrals", all of which will yield strange noises, and NO movement (except rolling backwards, down a driveway). Most other controls are rather boringly standard, EXCEPT the headlights, which are tethered on the end of yet ANOTHER piece of warped pipe, which one must pull "with gusto", in order to raise the headlight pods... THEN various incantations of Tibetan chants, to induce the lights to actually BOTH come on, as the wiring had gotten brittle... Oh, but there IS a standard feature, included WITH the lights that provides that if proceeding into a strong headwind... AND you're exceeding 70mph (with the little V4 sounding like it's about to hemmorage) OR if somehow, you have managed to achieve a forward velocity of some note.. the headlight pods, having been designed with a curved top, leave little "divots" in the front clip that generate low pressure.. thence LIFT, and without warning, the headlight pods will SLAM UP into position, scaring the living s**t out of you. Ahhh, what a glorious car.
Intermediate Driver

That story is very funny, I am sure that I would not have time to try and steal his 914. The only other vehicle I know of that would be as hard to steal is the famous Ford Model T. This unusual thing has
3 pedals, no transmission lever, and the throttle and ignition advance levers on the steering wheel.
If you did not learn to drive this from your grandfather, it is too late to start now.

Only goes to show, why we won WW2, German ideas didn't work well then either, while ours did. You couldn't give me a German car, any of this Euro' stuff for that matter. I like things that work and keep on working, no use adding to daily problems.

Oh, I dunno.  I believe that there are plenty of Euro vehicles that work quite well and last as long as anything else.  Japanese stuff too.  And I'll bet that the members of this forum can cite MULTIPLE examples of U.S. made cars and trucks that were/are not much different than the author's 914.  I could start with my wife's 1999 Saturn L200, for example...

New Driver

I know nothing of which you speak.
the owner of a '73 Lotus Europa 😉
Pit Crew

Great story Norman!

Reminds me of living with (or trying to live with) any number of old British or Italian cars from my past. It’s amazing what crap we will put up with, isn’t it, in the name of eclectic motoring? Honestly, reliability is over rated.

Keep up the good work and be safe out there.
Advanced Driver

The author wrote: "Manipulating the gear shift lever will deliver vague suggestions to this rod, which, in turn, will tickle small parts deep within the dark bowels of the transaxle case. It is akin to hitting a bag of gears with a stick, hopefully finding one that works."

I test-drove a brand new 914 back around 1975. It was quite a feat to simply complete the route, and all I wanted to do was get away from that dealership and the salesman who said, "You'll get used to it."
Pit Crew

I used to really want a 914, thanks for changing my mind!!

my 944 had the same mystery shifter until I replaced all of the necessary bushings during a transmission swap. I used to go diagonally across for the appropriate gears as if there were no H pattern
Pit Crew

I really enjoyed your article. It brought back many memories, the vague shift pattern, the aroma of oil coming through the heating system that was poor at heating. Door latches that would break off in your hand in cold weather. Parts were expensive in the 70s. Starting the engine on a cold winter day would flood out due to the oil air cleaner. Some of the engineering was great, how the top fit in the trunk without taking up much space, the great handling and the trunk space was incredible or the size of the car. I did enjoy the car, selling it was a great day and enjoy the memories. Thank you for the memories.
Intermediate Driver

This article is absolutely hilarious. Back in the day. 1980's I had one and it was fun. Not so problematic for me. Worked well enough for me and fun to drive. I will say in these days and times it is best to have a car with a stick shift and clutch. Best anti-theft device you could have.
New Driver

Great read... That could have been written about my (no longer though) '74 Europa...
New Driver

Brilliantly written. Well done.
New Driver

This is funny and brings back a lot of memories. I had three 914s. One was a 1971 914/6 and a blast to drive. It lived in the garage so didn't have some of your issues although the shifter was the same. The other two were 1973 1.7. One kinda fell off the road one night. I won't mention why. The other was my daily driver for several years. It had a big bore kit and ran very well. I had enough practice that I could shift quickly(relative) but I learned early on that those with no experience with Porsche shift linkage were in trouble. The best part was the area I lived had an abundance of 4 wheel drive and lifted pick ups. Right turn on red was easy since I sat low enough to see under the behemoths. I drove a mustang during that time once and was a bit annoyed when to my dismay sitting a foot or so higher I could not look under anyone.
New Driver

This was an awesome, laugh out loud funny article that could apply to most cars I've ever owned and loved! Thanks for describing classic car ownership so perfectly.