What’s it like to drive an ELECTRIC 1974 PORSCHE 914?

think I may have topped myself here on this one, because it’s actually led to a winning Drag Race – at 35mph.

It all started on a sunny mid-morning in northern Malibu at a Vintage Car Show. Flowers were perking, birds were sauntering and I was drinking coffee and checking out cool cars. And to my astonishing shock, Mark Brems drives in with this 1974 ELECTRIC 914 Porsche.

As a DVD/Bluray/iTunes premaster by day, converter of electric vehicles by night, Mark’s Porsche was a thing of beauty. Although at first site, just another sunny yellow example of German Engineering, what hid under the boot, bonnet and interior was something Nikola Tesla would’ve drooled over.

“The 72 HP electric motor matches the output of the original gas engine, but delivers 20 ft-lbs additional torque over the original 102 ft-lbs,” Brems said. “The 36 lithium battery cells give a total of 120 volts at 650 amps. All that for a range of about 70 miles, and a recharge time of three to eight hours at 220 VAC, depending on the pack’s discharge level.” 

Did you get all that? There’ll be a test later for two free tickets to Oxnard’s Canary Farm and Hash Brown Factory.

Mark bought this car as a roller on eBay five years ago, tore it down completely, soda-blasted the body, and then painted and reassembled it for a total ground-up before launching into the electric conversion. 

“The restore took approximately one and a half years of my spare time,” he said. “The EV conversion took another year. The car has been my daily driver for two years, for a total of 22,000 miles.”

But why this car and not a Nash Rambler?

“The Porsche 914 is under-appreciated,” Mark said. “Even by the Porsche community. Simply because it’s not a 911. But to its credit, it has much better weight distribution, a lower center of gravity, and it corners with grip and certainty. Overall, it’s a very fun car to drive.” 

Now, we took this car to Free Zuma for this shoot, snapped a few photos, then spotted a “regular” 914 of the same year parked on the street. That eventually led to a drag race on Pacific Coast Highway, topping out at a whopping 35mph. And of course, we took the win. It was the slowest, most intense drag I’d ever been in. And the most fun for everyone. They didn’t care that they lost, as it was just plain hysterical.

But there’s more, according to Brems.

Concerning the power plant, there is only one moving part: the rotor inside the electric motor case. It’s sealed and requires absolutely no maintenance. Acceleration is smooth, uniform, quiet, odor-free, and generates very little heat. “I haven’t given a dollar to a gas station in two years,” Mark said. “It’s a pure joy. This car is my daily driver as well as my calling card. I attend as many car events as possible to open the public’s mind to the possibility that electric vehicles are not limited to auto showrooms, but your favorite classic could also be converted to be green and gas-free.” 

And the best short story with it?

“EV drivers assume that I’m inconsiderate or a clueless idiot when I’m parked at an EV charging station,” he said. “With barely contained indignation, they inform me that I’m hogging a spot they would use to charge their vehicle, and when I reveal that the little yellow 914 is electric, they lighten right up and have a zillion questions. Once at Disneyland, I returned to my car to find a very tall police officer doubled over and peering into my driver window. He straightened up when I approached, and I prepared myself for the lecture about wrongfully parking in a EV charging spot. With great authority, he asked if I was the owner of this vehicle. When I confirmed that I was, he blurted out like a 13-year-old kid, ‘This car is so cool!’”

And finally, Mark’s take on our wee lil’ town? 

“I absolutely cringe driving on crummy, rough roads that are in disrepair, but Pacific Coast Highway is one of the smoothest and best maintained roads for smooth cruising in Southern California,” he said.

Thank you, Mark, for taking me along on this Malibu Adventure Drive. I learned a lot about electric cars, passion for the environment and how to lay the smackdown on other Porsches. I’m still feeling a little buzzy. 

If you’re in the market for an electric upgrade, hit Mark up at www.914electric.wordpress.com. I suggest getting one in Electric Blue.

More »