When the popular Porsche 356C was retired in 1965, the company found itself at loose ends. The Porsche 911 was just beginning to gain traction, but the exit of the 356 series threatened to leave a hole at the entry-level segment of the Porsche lineup. The Porsche 912, designed not only as a replacement for the 356, but also as a potential successor to the Porsche 911, filled the gap nicely.
The Porsche 912 was built between 1965 and 1969. Its design was immediately familiar to anyone who had seen a 356 or 911, but the 912 had a few tricks of its own up its sleeve. Its aerodynamics were subtly but effectively changed. Its engine options (flat fours with 1582 or 1972 cc’s) sipped fuel without sacrificing power. Construction was lighter, leading to better handling. And when all these things were combined, the 912 got 30 mpg fuel economy—a number that was impressive at the time and would still be respectable today.
For a short time the Porsche 912 managed to outsell the Porsche 911. It also had the honor, in 1966, of being the 100,000th Porsche to roll off the lines in Stuttgart. The car was even brought back briefly in a 912E variant targeted at the US market. More than 2,100 of the 921E vehicles were sold in the year during which the car was available.
Upon its retirement in 1969, the Porsche 912 was replaced by the Porsche 914 and a succession of other cars. Ironically, the car it was intended to replace—the Porsche 911—soldiers on stubbornly to this day. While the Porsche 912 is long gone, its spot in the Porsche lineup is occupied by the 2016 Porsche Boxster roadster and the Boxster-related Porsche Cayman coupe. If you’re feeling nostalgic for your old 912, come to the Porsche of Nashua showroom and take one of its spiritual descendants out for an exhilarating test drive.