In late 1973, to commemorate their racing victories in the 1972 and 1973 Can Am racing series and to boost sales of the 914 model, Porsche began to develop the 1974 Porsche 914 Can Am Edition.  This car was to be a special production car limited to only 1000 vehicles, and was refined through at least seven known prototypes before production commenced.  The 914 Can Am prototypes are numbered on this webpage for easy reference so we can follow how the car developed.

914 Can Am Prototype Car 1  The initial design study for the 914 Can Am car was unveiled at the IAA Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1973.  The special 914 displayed at this show was the first 914 Can Am Prototype Car painted black and feature painted yellow bumpers, valences and wheels.  This black and yellow paint color theme was a primary and dominant concept that would prevail throughout the development and production of the Porsche 914 Can Am series.  Most of the 914 Porsche Can Am car prototypes are in this color scheme, but no photo of this specific car has been located yet, unfortunately.  However, the September 1973 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show was a great show for 914s.  The photo below shows that there were several specially-prepared 914s presented at Frankfurt in September 1973.  Note the four 914s in the right side of the photo, with graphic themes representing the USA, France, Germany and Britain, all major markets for the 914.  914 Can Am Prototype Car 1 must be just behind one of those display walls…


IAA Frankfurt Auto Show – September 1973


IAA Frankfurt Auto Show – September 1973 - 914s with special graphics on display


914 Can Am Prototype Cars 2 and 3  The next month, at the Paris Salon automobile show in October 1973, on the Karmann stand, two 914 cars in European trim with striking accent graphics were displayed.  Both cars have the 4-bolt Fuchs wheels introduced the previous model year, with dark accent graphics over a lighter body color.  The Targa bar on 914 Can Am Prototype Car 2 was painted body-color and without vinyl.  914 Can Am Prototype Car 3 was painted a metallic orange, has Targa bar vinyl and was also displayed at the IAA Frankfurt Auto Show, as seen in the photo above.


914 Can Am Prototype Cars 2 and 3


914 Can Am Prototype Car 3


914 Can Am Prototype Car 4  Ludwigsens’ Excellence was Expected, indicates that a third 914 car, an American model, was also on display at the Paris Salon automobile show in October 1973.  This American model is described as having a third style of side stripes with the word PORSCHE cut out of the stripe revealing the text in body color, but no photos of this 914 car at this show have been located.  This car would be an important car to have a photograph of, as it was the first known 914 to display the negative style side stripes that would become a key design element of the 914 Limited Edition and 914 SL cars.  While no photo of 914 Can Am Prototype Car 4 has been located, there is a photo of a prototype 1974 911 Turbo with the negative stripes at that same Paris show in October 1973.  Excellence was Expected, in the 911 Turbo photo caption, inaccurately indicates that the Paris Salon occurred in September 1973, it occurred October of 1973.  While this negative side stripe design had been mounted to and displayed in October 1973 on both 914 and 911 design studies, it was not yet a component of the 914 Can Am car package.


The Negative Side Stripe on a 1974 911 Turbo in Paris, October 1973


914 Can Am Prototype Car 5  With eager acceptance of the special edition 914 Can Am car concept by the international car show community, the next known prototype was documented in January 1974.  In Brian Longs book Porsche 914 and 914/6 there is a photo of a car referenced as having the ‘G-pack option’, subtitled “the forerunner of the 914 GT and Limited Edition.”  This car is a European market 1974 VW-Porsche 914, displays for the first time the specially-designed 914 Can Am front air dam, driving lights, painted contrasting color bumpers and valences and is without side stripes.  The driving light grilles appear to be the chromed plastic finish, and not black.  Notably, it has the optional four-bolt Fuchs forged alloy wheels with the wheel centers painted to match the accent color, and the wheel lug bolts are bright, not black, which are features later found only on the 914 SL cars for Japan.  Targa bar vinyl covering was not installed and it does not have the lower Targa bar horizontal trim piece used to trim the vinyl.  While it is a black and white photo and the actual color is not known, it is a light colored car, like the Light Ivory-based 914 Can Am cars would be.


914 Can Am Prototype Car 5 (G-Pack)


After studying the plain-looking 914 G-Pack car and to more closely visually associate it with the actual Can Am race cars, Porsche wanted to create a unique side stripe for the 914 Can Am car.  To this point in time Porsche had only offered side stripes in a positive lettering style, and in black and white only, for both the earlier Porsche 911 and 914 cars.  For the new side stripe design, Porsche was inspired by nothing less than the wild and successful graphic scheme of the mighty 1973 911 Carrera 2.7 RS cars.  The 1973 911 Carrera 2.7 RS cars were basic white-color cars with brightly colored accents, a theme that would continue with the 914 Can Am cars.  The 911 Carrera 2.7 RS colors were Grand Prix White, with Viper Green, Phoenix Red and Mexico Blue accent colors.  One of the 914 Can Am car versions would feature the standard 914 white color Light Ivory as similar to Grand Prix White, with Phoenix Red as the accent color.



911 Carrera RS with side stripe



This is a good place to mention that in addition to the exterior color schemes there are other interesting parallels between the 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS cars and the 914 Can Am cars.  Both cars were of very limited production quantities.  Both cars featured the best factory performance features available at that time for their respective production models.  Both cars featured uniquely designed side stripes and custom body panels.  Both cars commemorated Porsche racing success in previous racing campaigns.  One can easily imagine that the 914 Can Am cars might have appropriately been named the Porsche 914 Can Am 2.0 RS.

914 Can Am Prototype Car 6  Results of the side stripe design study appeared on the next 914 Can Am prototype car which displayed a side stripe design initially proposed by the Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, the VW-Porsche marketing company.  This design was an updated and similar look to the 911 Carrera 2.7 RS stripes.  The title of the racing series “Canam” was presented in a flowing, cursive font reminiscent of the Carrera RS side stripes, and had narrow linear top and bottom stripes stretching horizontally from wheel well to wheel well.  An interesting design, but the senior designers at Porsche denied use of this special Porsche graphical theme for application to a 914 because it was too similar to the one used on the 911 Carrera RS cars.  A notable feature of this proposed scheme was that the typical 914 rear emblem badging was also revised in addition to the side striping, replacing the typical rear “914” and “2.0” tailbadges with a “PORSCHE” tailbadge, [on a European 914!], and a cursive “Canam” beneath it, in the same side stripe font.  The revised tailbadging is visible in the photo below if you look carefully.  Note that this prototype vehicle in European fitment (ROW rear taillight lenses and omitted rear bumper guards, sidemarker lights, engine lid script) has 914 4-bolt Fuchs alloy wheels, silver rear Targa bar molding and Targa bar vinyl covering.  It is not discernible if the Fuchs are painted or not in this monochromatic photo. Hey check out that prototype LE front spoiler...glad it never made it into production!



"The option package "CanAm" will be offered from Model 74 on, in addition to the known option packages. Find the details on the overview page."


From a German VW Porsche publication, the 914 Can Am car was announced




914 Can Am Prototype Car 6 for Europe/ROW and USA/Canada


914 Can Am Prototype Car 6 Spoiler


914 Can Am Prototype Car 7  To generate an acceptable 914 Can Am side stripe design, Porsche then hired their own graphics designer to develop an alternative side stripe solution, which displayed the word “CANAM”, integrating a maple leaf symbol signifying Canada, and a symbolic trio of American stars.  Porsche approved this design scheme on 914 Can Am Prototype Car 7 and intended to use this scheme on all 914 Can Am cars, for both the USA and Europe.  Note that this prototype car in USA trim has Mahle wheels painted in body accent color with unpainted wheel lips and bright wheel lug bolts), Targa bar vinyl covering, and satin black rear Targa bar moldings.


914 Can Am Prototype Car 7


914 Can Am Car Prototypes





914 Can Am Car


Body/accent colors

Side stripe


Targa Bar


Prototype 1


First 914 Can Am prototype to display Black/Yellow color scheme


First 914 Can Am prototype to display painted Yellow wheels


Frankfurt Show, September 1973

Prototype 2



Stylized body graphics


Painted body color, silver trim

Paris Show, October 1973

Prototype 3


Metallic Orange/Black

Stylized body graphics


Vinyl, silver trim

Paris Show, October 1973

Prototype 4



First 914 Can Am prototype to display PORSCHE negative side stripes



Paris Show, October 1973

Prototype 5


Only light color body / dark color trim 914 Can Am prototype.  First 914 to display the Can Am front spoiler


First 914 Can Am prototype to display painted 4-bolt Fuch wheels

Painted body color, black trim

G-Pack, January 1974

Prototype 6



Cursive Canam side stripes


Vinyl, silver trim

Cursive Canam stripe design with rear Porsche tailbadge rejected by Porsche

Prototype 7



CANAM side stripe with maple leaf and stars

First 914 Can Am prototype with Mahle wheels

Vinyl, black trim

CANAM side stripe approved by Porsche


The Can Am organization had the final say  Ripple effects from the 1973 oil crisis in America affected all things automobile-related including competitive auto racing.  The Can Am organization modified the rules of their road racing series, imposing a fuel efficiency restriction for competing cars to achieve not less than 3 miles per gallon of fuel.  Porsche was the superpower of the Can Am racing series to this point in time and were nearly unbeatable.  This rule change for fuel efficiency, which may have also been discreetly intended to encourage better competition, ended Porsche’s domination of the Can Am racing series.  Porsche did not want to participate under the revised rules, so on January 28th 1974, Porsche resigned from the Can Am racing series.  Without the participation of Porsche, the Can Am racing series quickly became uneventful and was discontinued after an abbreviated 1974 season.

The Can Am rule change and the subsequent withdrawal by Porsche, obviously and profoundly affected the 914 Can Am car program.  Without the association to Can Am, Porsche was in a dilemma.  By late January of 1974, development money had been spent, prototypes had been built and approved, the car had been publicly displayed and promoted, and the international automobile community was merely awaiting delivery.  But now the special production cars could not be named after Can Am, so they were given new names.  The final naming designation for the 914 Can Am cars for distribution in the USA became the “Porsche 914 Limited Edition” (914 LE), Europe would get the “VW-Porsche 914 GT” (914 GT or  914 Jubilaumsmodell), and Japan would get the “914 Sports Limited” (914 SL).  This redesignation required changes to previously approved designs, and occurred with great haste between the January 28, 1974 Can Am withdrawal and early February of 1974, when the first 914 Can Am cars were produced.

The Post-Can Am resignation 914 Can Am car development:  The 914 Can Am prototype car development process had focused almost entirely on variations of the European 914 GT car, which was then broadened at the last minute to include the USA 914 LE and 914 SL for Japan.  The only documented USA-format 914 Can Am prototype cars we know of were 914 Can Am prototype cars 4 and 7, developed before the departure from Can Am, which differs in significant ways from the 914 LE cars ultimately produced.  The contrast between the 914 LE and the 914 GT is even more profound if you consider the relative abundance of official documentation about the 914 GT for which only very few were produced, and the complete lack of factory information on the final form of the 914 LE, where 1000 cars were issued.  I have located no information at all on the 914 SL development process, other than the subtle use of painted Fuchs on Prototype Cars 5 and possibly 6.  Three decades later, the handful of surviving 914 Can Am cars must speak quietly for themselves of their authenticity and detailing.

914 LE and 914 SL side stripes:  As a result of the naming redesignation, the previously-approved CANAM side stripes (displayed on 914 Can Am Prototype Car 7) were never produced.  The 914 LE and 914 SL cars received the simplified negative block lettered PORSCHE side stripes, in the correct 914 Can Am accent colors, which first appeared on 914 Can Am Prototype Car 4 and the 911 Turbo car at the October 1973 Paris Salon.  The bold negative-lettered side stripe design became a distinguishing feature of the 914 LE and 914 SL cars.

914 GT side stripes:  Because the VW-Porsche 914 was promoted by and known as a Volkswagen in Europe, and not a Porsche, the use of a lettered PORSCHE side stripe on a European 914 was verboten by Porsche.  The VW-Porsche 914 GT cars for the rest of the world received simplified linear unlettered racing side stripes, also in the correct 914 Can Am accent colors, for a very refined appearance.

Wheels and exterior trim:  The 914 LE and 914 GT cars are fitted with Mahle (4-bolt) cast aluminum wheels, the 914 SL with 4-bolt Fuchs, and all wheel centers are painted in the accent color, leaving wheel lips unpainted.  According to the respected German reference text, Das Grosse VW Porsche Buch, “the 914 GT cars were to receive the popular Fuchs forged alloy wheels (four-bolt)”.  This reference must be in reference to the 914 SL cars, which received the painted Fuchs.  The 914 LE would not receive vinyl covering on the Targa bar, where the 914 GT did receive the Targa vinyl, and the rear Targa bar metal trim was painted satin black.

Promotion, advertising…and contradictions:  It is a mystery to me, given the initial factory aspirations for the 914 Can Am cars, that only very minimal official documentation is available.  There appears to have been essentially no public promotion of the 914 Can Am cars, for a car Porsche built explicitly to boost sales of the 914 model.  A marketing brochure including advertisements is said to have been available, but it has not been located.  I have researched media advertising for Porsche and VW-Porsche 914 cars during 1973 and 1974, including well over 100 magazine advertisements, magazine articles and dealership brochures about the 914 from the USA, Canada and Europe.  While advertising for Porsche and VW-Porsche 914 cars in magazines was at its all-time peak during the 914 Can Am car production period and shortly after, no print ads, no magazine articles and no brochures featuring the 914 Porsche Limited Edition, VW-Porsche 914 GT or 914 Sports Limited cars have been located.  We have the March 1974 issue of Porsche Parade, an apparently Porsche dealership-distributed newsletter briefly describing the car.  We have the few factory photos of the prototype cars included on this website and a couple of brief articles in privately authored books written years after the cars debut and that is about all.  An interesting paradox is that while Porsche did not promote the association with Can Am for these cars after their withdrawal from Can Am racing, the Porsche Certificates of Authenticity almost universally indicate that a car is a 914 Can Am edition.



The entire development and production process of this limited production car series occurred from sometime during the summer of 1973 before the Frankfurt show, until July of 1974 when the last 914 Can Am cars were produced, probably less than a year.  Seven prototype cars resulted in six different models for 1000 cars in three different major 914 markets.

What then is the fundamental distinction between a 914 Can Am car and a similarly-equipped standard 914 Porsche?  One could easily say and be correct, that the 914 LE, 914 GT and 914 SL are merely fully-equipped standard 914 cars with a special paint job and front air dam, but that view only recognizes the mechanical and physical attributes of the car.  More than anything else the 914 Can Am cars have SOUL unlike any other 914 car, stemming from their unique PROVENANCE.  Porsche memorialized their victories in endurance road racing by factory-producing a limited production commemorative car with distinctive features.  They gave it a special name, special features, recognition and status.  This distinction is the essence of the car and in its factory-recognized heritage.  While every Porsche has earned the birthright to the marques racing heritage, Porsche purposely recognized and commemorated their Can Am racing victories through the 914 Can Am cars, and that cannot be said of any ordinary 914.

The 914 Porsche LE, the VW-Porsche 914 GT and the VW-Porsche 914 SL are Great Cars!