Why You'll Hardly Find Any Porsche 916s On The Road

The Porsche 916 is a very rare and limited prototype sports car built in the early '70s. It could leave a 911 in its dust. Today, 916s are auctioned for an average of $1 million (via Motor Trend). The legend of the Porsche 916 has remained strong for decades, even among Porsche designers.

In 2016, Porsche presented a concept for an all-electric four-wheel-drive sports car, which it called the "Porsche Vision 916." Only a clay model of the Porsche Vision 916 was built, but it went straight into Porsche's Unseen list and became part of its "Little Rebels" collection — five Porsche concept cars that were never made, per HotCars. The futuristic electric Porsche Vision 916 was designed by a team that, when challenged with creating a minimalistic but powerful Porsche, turned for inspiration to the original '70s Porsche 916, which never went into production.

Classic lists two original 916 sold in the past five years. The famous 1972 yellow body 916 was sold in Punta Gorda, Florida, for $957,000 through a Sotheby's auction in August 2020. The equally famous all-black "Brutus" 916 was sold in auction by Artcurial in Paris, France, in February 2019 for 953,600 euros. Given the 916's reputation, why did it never go into production?

From a top series production model to a limited-edition supercar

Only 11 Porsche 916s were ever built by Porsche, and Motor Trend says they are all rare and very valuable. The 916 was supposed to be Porsche's response to the Ferrari 246 Dino. Top Speed explains that the 916 took the boxy body of the Porsche 914, with an aerodynamic front and rear bumpers, and intended to give it the power of its 911. But the 916's engine was boosted. Some prototypes had a 2.4 liter engine from the 911, and others a 2.7 liter from the Porsche Carrera. That powerful engine mounted on the lightweight and small body of the 914 gave the 916 an agility that ultimately threatened the 911.

Like Porsche's 914, the Porsche 916 came from an agreement between Volkswagen Chairman Heinz Nordhoff and Ferry Porsche. Their relationship ran deep. The 914 was designed by Porsche but built in a Karmann plant, home of original Volkswagen Beetle. Nordhoff also paid Porsche for every Volkswagen Beetle sold because it was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Sports Car Market reported that when Nordhoff died in 1968, its next chairman was less enthusiastic about the combination Porsche projects.

The 916 was intended to be revealed at the 1971 Paris Auto Salon and produced in 1972. Two weeks before the auto show, Porsche shut down the production of the car, Stutt Cars reported. Overshadowing the performance of the 911, featuring too expensive a price tag, and Porsche's declining sales in the ´70s all contributed to the downfall of the 916 (via Sports Car Market). The model is more than just a collectible, it is wrapped in long-lost possibility — a sports car that could have ruled the streets but was never built.