It definitely turns heads,” says Simon Hatton, describing his one-of-a-kind 914. “It’s quite modernistic – a bit of a James Bond car.”
The striking design of the 914 is always likely to catch the eye but Simon’s is even more of an attention grabber than most. It’s one of a unique group of Porsches – just 20 cars, carefully selected, immaculately restored and then finished in Liquid Metal Silver to celebrate the marque’s 70th anniversary in 2018. Designed to bring Porsche history and tradition to life, the Porsche Cars GB project was carried out alongside Porsche Centres and Porsche Recommended Repairers.
Even in that select company, Simon’s car is something of a rarity. The other 19 in the 70th anniversary stable – 10 first-generation Boxsters, plus a selection of air-cooled, water-cooled, and transaxle cars – were displayed on the public stage when assembled for a stunning display at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in November 2018, where most were snapped up on the first morning of the event.
But missing from that high-profile line-up was the 914. The car originally chosen for the project had turned out to be in such poor condition that restoration simply wasn’t feasible, so it never made it to the NEC. Neither did its replacement.
But a couple of Simon’s friends did attend the show and were so impressed by the Liquid Metal cars that each decided to buy one. At the time, Simon was potentially in the market for his first Porsche – he’d already joined the Club to help with his research – and when his friends heard about the missing Liquid Metal car, they immediately thought of him.
Simon explains: “The sales guy mentioned to them that although a 914 was not on display, there was one for sale, so they gave me a call. I had been looking for a car and having restored a couple myself in my younger days – Mark 3 and 4 Triumph Spitfires – I wanted one that was complete. I’d actually been thinking about 944 Turbos and 911s, E-Type Jaguars and Austin Healeys. I didn’t know what a 914 was until I looked online.”
But having liked what he saw, Simon, a Yorkshire-based property developer, bought the car unseen, surprising even himself.
“I’m very particular about what I buy and my vehicles,” he says. “Even my works vans are immaculate. I don’t like taking risks so buying the 914 like that was totally out of character.”
And he has no regrets regarding his ownership of the car, a 1970 1.7-litre model which, like all the Liquid Metal fleet, has a host of special features, including black leather interior, bespoke seat trimming in original Porsche-branded cloth, wheels shot-blasted and painted black and ‘70 years of Porsche’ graphics and commemorative plaque.
If there is a downside, it’s that so far Simon has had limited opportunities to show off the car. The restoration work wasn’t completed until 2019 and then he took delivery in the winter, so it stayed safely in the garage until the weather improved.
Then the car had to be sent back for a blemish in the paintwork to be sorted under the 12-month warranty it came with, spending so long away that there are still several months to go before the warranty expires.
Despite those restricted opportunities to drive the car, the 914 is ticking all the boxes for Simon. Now he wants others to see it too, and there’ll be an opportunity very soon.
“Classic cars can be a bit temperamental but it’s been fantastic, with no issues at all,” he says. “Unfortunately, it’s really only my partner Louise Waller and me, and a handful of friends, who have seen it. But I’ve got tickets for the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July and I’m planning to take it down. As it’s the only one still to be unveiled from 70th anniversary Liquid Metal cars, I think there are many people who’d be interested in seeing it.”
As Porsche Post reported at the time of the cars’ launch: “Remarkable as these cars look in print, there is something special about their unique finish that only seeing one in the metal can do justice to.” Goodwood, anyone?