Tracing the 912E Lineage.
By Aric Gless
“I wonder how many of these are still running around the roads?” That question posed to me, about the fate of Porsche 912Es, was the genesis of this project. Having just done a family tree search, this seemed like a similar subject, a family tree for a Porsche. Ignoring the mechanical statistics of the car, my focus was to learn how many of the 2099 912Es were still active, and where they had gone.
2006 marks the 30th anniversary of the Porsche 912E. It was the final four-cylinder model that Porsche would produce. The quantity is the first mystery. Although the VINs (Vehicle Identification Numbers) end at 2099 (9126002099), not all of those were shipped out of the factory. In a 1977 letter to the original owner of one car, two Porsche representatives stated that only 2079 were manufactured. This raises the question about the fate of the other 20. When I contacted Porsche, Stuttgart about the U.S. Ports of Entry for the 912Es, I began with VINs 0001 – 0010. They responded that their microfiche files began with car #0011, and that there is no information on the status of the first ten cars. Possible scenarios are that these were pulled off the assembly line for testing and never sold, or some may have been ordered and then cancelled.
The number could be an even 2100, as there is a yellow pre-series model that has a 911 VIN, but has a 4-cylinder type 4 fuel-injected engine, thus being a true 912E. Helmutt Bott of Porsche temporarily held it, until 1976 when Dr. Berndt Bergk, also of Porsche, bought it. Dr. Bergk sold it this February to the Prototyp Museum in Hamburg, where it will be permanently displayed.
So where did the 912Es begin their journeys after leaving Stuttgart? This car was made primarily for the North American market. The 1977 letter noted above said that 2051 were shipped to the United States. But one contact at Porsche believes, although unconfirmed, that a few may have been sent to Italy.
One known variation is that car #1423 was delivered to Hahn, Germany. A United States Air Force serviceman ordered the car while stationed at the tactical fighter base in Hahn. The car then was shipped back to the U.S. where it was sold to the next owner in Chicago, then to a man in Miami. The next owner, a college professor in Decatur, Georgia, has now let it go, because he has accepted a position with a college in England, and decided not to take the car with him.
Some 912Es, though, have made the trip back across the Atlantic Ocean. Their current homes include England, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. A few cars have also crossed the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. One car, for which I have no VIN, was first owned in Huntington Beach, California, and then was shipped to England where it has been passed among three different owners. But the car furthest from its birthplace is probably #0338, which was last known to be in Lima, Peru.
The majority of 912Es remain in the U.S., and have been moved between locations of varying distances. My silver 912E, of which I am the 2nd owner, has never been out of the southern half of California. In contrast, car #1699, was originally sold in Colorado. The current owner bought it in San Diego in 1979, and since then it has had homes in seven different cities. Its life trail has led from Colorado to four cities in California to Arizona to Connecticut, back to California, and to Arizona again. And when the owners’ son finishes graduate school in Georgia, the car will be sent to him.
There are stories of owners who have lost their car, only to buy it back again and keep it in the family. Some Es have gone from father to son, mother to son and cousin to cousin. There are also families with pairs of them. And in contrast, #0740 is with its sixth owner. Many Porsche owners have enjoyed two different 912Es. At least two people have owned three of them. But Steve Maimone of New York may hold the record, moving between five 912Es.
And then there are those who “gave their all”. I have confirmed so far that 22 are gone forever. Whether burned from engine fires, or totaled in collisions, or just worn out and dismantled for parts, they no longer grace the world’s roads. Well, they may not be gone forever, since they have become automotive organ donors, and their parts live on in other 912Es.
I continue to search for those not currently identified. Of the cars in England, there are six for which I have need the VIN. I ask the readers to contact me at GLESSARCH@aol.com, about their E, so that the lineage can continue to be documented, before the trail goes cold. As of the end of August 2006, I have identified 427 by VIN, and another 50 by photo or other information. Of those, 30 are complete histories from original dealer to current owner.
I am amazed how often I hear the comment from former owners, “I wish I had never gotten rid of that car.” But that is the only way that more of us can enjoy, what many acknowledge as “one of the best cars that Porsche ever made.”