Asian Fusion - WRX Powered Porsche 914

Like Eating Bratwurst With Wasabi

By James Tate, Photography by James Tate

There's a perfectly good reason why a Porsche is sprawled across these pages. Actually, there are a few. This Porsche is powered by a Subaru EJ20, fresh out of a 2003 WRX. You can easily afford the car, and the engine swap is cheap too. The result: more lightweight thrust than a Lotus Exige S for less money than a Honda Civic Si. Ready to listen now?

This 1973 Porsche 914 is the stuff dreams are made of. For Ed Hunziker, at least. He had been dreaming about it for a quarter of a century before actually owning it. Imagine finally pulling into your driveway in the white Countach you've had on your wall since you got your first pimples and you'll start to understand.

It all began in 1971, when the disco-collared Hunziker found himself puttering around in a 1969 Beetle. He frequented the VW dealership as much as anyone with a 1969 Beetle did. And every time he was there he couldn't avoid eyeing the impossibly low-slung Porsche 914 on the showroom floor. Sadly, his bubble seemed to abruptly pop every time the grim reality of a $10 weekly food budget set in. It was all too clear that, for the time being, the gleaming red 914 was out of the question.

Fast-forward to 1996. Hunziker has just purchased another VW, having never realized his dream of mid-engine performance. But life has a funny way of rubbing in one's regrets. While driving his new purchase, he spots his destiny parked in a neighbor's yard with a For Sale sign in the windshield, as if mocking his new V-dub. A fear-inducing test ride with a capable owner confirms rumors about the mid-engine car's handling abilities, despite a tired old suspension. He's sold. Even though the search that produced his latest VW was to find a suitable car for his teenage son, he knew the 914 was something a teen could too easily get into trouble with. Which, conveniently, was justification enough for this new toy.

The year is 2001. For most of us, five years is enough time to enjoy a car and move on. But this wasn't just any car-it was the object of 25 years' infatuation. Rather than moving on to the next project, Hunziker wanted nothing more than another 914. Specifically, a 914 he had seen two years earlier. Sporting a thoroughly massive widebody and graphics reminiscent of the Martini Porsche cars, it was completely sorted.

Jump to the present day. Ten years of enjoying and restoring a pair of 914s have brought to light a few of the car's shortcomings. For one, the engine was an air-cooled boxer made by Porsche, which meant it leaked oil. Pulling the engine no less than eight times to fix these leaks persuaded him to find an alternate source of power.

Having sold his first 914, Hunziker prepared to swap something with a little more grunt into the widebody. He found the most popular swap was a Chevy V8, which was enticing at first, because he had a lot of experience with the Chevy engine from hot rod days he'd rather not talk about. But after more research, he found the operation would require much more than just a new engine in order to work properly.

The sheer torque produced by the domestic V8 meant the transmission would be ripped to shreds and the chassis twisted into a pretzel. In order to make it work, he would have to build a detuned V8. Any true gearhead would balk at such a ridiculous notion.

Like a sign from the heavens, his son came back from the Marines and bought a new WRX. Though Hunziker had owned Subarus in the past, there was nothing that could have prepared him for the power his son's 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four produced. Suddenly, everything became clear. Hell, the Subaru engine was even laying down the same way as the Porsche engine.

By James Tate
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