1968 Porsche 912
Courtesy of Bonhams
  • 1,582-cc OHV air-cooled opposed 4-cylinder engine
  • Two Solex downdraft carburetors
  • 102 horsepower at 5,800 rpm
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • Independent front and rear suspension
  • Four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes
  • 89,194 miles on the odometer
  • Well-documented service history
  • An excellent candidate for restoration

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1968 Porsche 912
Years Produced:1965–69 and 1976 (912E)
Number Produced:1968, 11,921; 1965–69, 30,500; 1976 912E, 2,099
Original List Price:$4,700
SCM Valuation: $39,400
Tune Up Cost:$600 to $900
Chassis Number Location:Tag on front lip of trunk; stamping above gas tank in trunk; tag in driver’s door A-pillar
Engine Number Location:On vertical boss on right side of fan support
Club Info:Porsche Club of America; 912 Registry
Alternatives:1968 Triumph TR250, 1968 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, 1968 Chevrolet Corvette
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 349, sold for $27,500, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Collectors Motorcars and Automobilia Auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2017.

The Porsche 912 is the 911’s relatively underappreciated little brother. It was born just a little later, but it was missing two cylinders, 40 horsepower and a lot of love. The 911 has grown to be an automotive icon, the longest-lived sports car ever and widely revered.

The 912 shuffled along in obscurity — except among a small-but-growing band of aficionados. They consider the 912 a fine car, an excellent driver and a worthy collectible.

In the early 1960s, as soon as the 901 (soon to be renamed the 911) had been designed and prototypes built, it became apparent to Porsche management that the 356 would not survive long as the marque’s entry-level model.

Next to the 911, the 356 looked dated, felt cramped and drove through an outdated gearbox on an outdated suspension. Thus was born the 912, a marriage of the 911 body shell/gearbox/suspension/brakes with the 4-cylinder 356 SC (aka “Super 90”) engine.

The 911 as a 356 Carrera replacement?

There has been speculation, supported by a few rare Porsche factory documents, that the 911 initially was intended to replace only the 356 Carrera 2 with its higher-output, but complicated and expensive, 2-liter, 130-horsepower Type 587 four-cam engine.

When the 912 brainstorm hit, attention was turned to making that model both workable and sufficiently less expensive than the 911, without disparaging either model. Engineering delivered on the former — of course.

Driving costs down was more difficult, especially since outside supplier Karmann would provide a large number of the bodies — at a meaningful markup over Porsche-owned, Reutter-supplied bodies. A simplified three-instrument dash panel (upped to five in 1967), no wood steering wheel or interior trim, a 4-speed gearbox developed off the new 5-speed box for the 911 (the 5-speed was optional on the 912 and sold well) and a host of other small changes allowed the 912’s base cost to get into alignment.

No 912s in the U.S. for the first year

Porsche announced the 912 in September 1964 as a 1965 model, with deliveries commencing that next year. Between 1,500 and 2,000 912s were delivered as 1965 cars — oddly, through mid-September, not as of the August plant vacation closing as usual.

The 912 was withheld from the U.S. for a year. Porsche said time was needed to ramp up production and make U.S.-mandated changes. Thus, in 1965, the 356C and SC continued to be sold side-by-side with the 911 in the U.S.

Initially in Germany, the 912 was the equivalent of $4,075 vs. $5,450 for the base 911 (higher later in the U.S.). 912 buyers got a 90-horsepower engine vs. 130 for the 911 — and even five horsepower less than in the old 356 SC. The 912’s Type 616/36 engine was modified to be a tad stronger in the mid-range and at a higher redline, now at 6,000 rpm vs. 5,500 for the old SC.

Initially, the 912 outsold its big brother 911 almost two to one, but that soon reversed.

One advantage of the 912 was its weight at about 2,190 pounds — 170 pounds less than the 911 but 220 more than the 356C. On the new suspension, and with less weight hanging out back, the 912 handled better than either the 911 or the 356, but it was not as fast as the former. Comparative data follow:

Porsche 912 specs


356 C*

356 Carrera



Curb weight

1,970 lbs

2,220 lbs

2,190 lbs

2,360 lbs


75 DIN

130 DIN

90 DIN

130 DIN

88 SAE

152 SAE

102 SAE

145 SAE

Price in U.S.





0–60 mph

13.5 secs

9.2 secs

11.6 secs

9.0 secs



18.9 secs

16.9 secs

18.1 secs

16.5 secs

Top speed

100 mph

123 mph

119 mph

132 mph

* The 356 SC was 95 hp DIN 107 SAE and between a C and a Carrera in performance

Data: Road & Track road tests from the 1960s

Our auction 912 was a tweener

The 912 at Bonhams’ Simeone auction was either a weak original car or a restoration project, more likely the latter. The original Karmann tags showed serial number 12801959, an earlier 1968 build, in Light Ivory paint #6804, with engine number 1281776, reported to be matching.

Mileage was 89,194 miles, with documented history.

The accompanying window sticker and the Northbrook, IL, dealer invoice showed that the car was well equipped with the optional 5-speed gearbox, tinted windshield, radio, driver’s door mirror, Amco bumper overriders, chrome wheels, crested hubcaps and crested seat belts — most likely U.S.-made Hickoks.

When does patina cross the line into shabby?

The interior looked nicely patinated, with an intact dash top and (probably) restuffed seats. The engine compartment looked original and appropriately aged.

The front trunk was largely consumed by a gasoline heater installation worthy of Chicago winters.

Some trim was rusting. The paint, almost assuredly not original, was nonetheless well worn. The engine lid had bad cracking and wear-through, with light collateral damage. Bumpers, fenders, and rockers all had paint voids and surface rust — or worse. Panels were lumpy.

Not to open old wounds, but if this car had come out of a 10- to 20-year sleep and been covered in dirt and mildew, it’d be a “barn find saver.” Ptooey.

From $35,000 to well over $100,000 in 12 years

What do 912 sales histories look like?

A multiple show-winning 1969 in desirable Canary Yellow sold for $38,000 in 2005.

Then came waves of rapidly increasing prices for long-hood 911s, which pulled 912s along behind them.

The highest public price for a 912 was probably a fully restored, Bahama Yellow (off hue) 1967 at Gooding Scottsdale in January 2017, Lot 107, that sold for $114,400, including buyer’s premium.

More typical prices are lower — for example, the Golf Blue 1966 at Gooding Amelia Island in March 2016, Lot 9, that brought $72,600.

Finally, there is a very nice, well-preserved original 1969 example going to auction at Amelia Island in March that will likely sell for $85,000–$100,000 — and it needs nothing.

At $27,500, including buyer’s premium and with a restoration in its future, our Bonhams’ Simeone 912 probably will be underwater for a number of years. That prognostication, however, will not prevent its owner from enjoying low-maintenance, fun-filled driving in the interim. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

Comments are closed.