By on September 15, 2021

Today’s Rare Ride is the second vehicle in the series designed by French coachbuilder Heuliez, and was a one-off as part of a Porsche 914 styling competition.

The 914 was a joint Volkswagen-Porsche project and entered the Porsche lineup as the brand’s entry-level vehicle for the 1970 model year. There were two basic versions available, the base 914 with a 1.7-liter flat-four, or the 914/6 with a 2.0-liter flat-six. The former mill was a VW engine, so was derided among the Porsche purists of the day. The six-cylinder came from Porsche and thus was more acceptable, but the 914 was still tainted with the dueling auras of cheap and Volkswagen.

Before the 914 entered production, Porsche decided to have a contest to see who could restyle the rather plain-looking 914 into something better. An early production example was originally obtained by a company called Brissonneau et Lotz, who planned to implement a 914 body of their (employee’s) design. The 914 edit idea came from employee Jacques Cooper, a designer who was a former employee of Raymond Loewy. But B et L had some money troubles, and couldn’t afford to start the project. It didn’t progress past the design sketch stage, which Cooper penned.

The 914 build was passed on to designer Henri Heuliez, who was still new to the automotive design industry. Cooper managed the transition from Brissonneau to Heuliez, and Heuliez started work immediately. The 914 rework went from a paper sketch to a driving prototype in 10 weeks, as Heuliez was eager to prove he could complete a quality car body in short order.

Nearly all original panels of the 914 were replaced, the boxy shape tossed in favor of a wedge with upswept lines toward the rear. B-pillars were widened and included cooling gills that were formerly found on the hood above the midship engine. There were also taillamps unique to the Murene in place of the Porsche units. Perhaps most notably, the 914’s coupe form was edited into a hatchback.

The Heuliez design took the stage for the first time at the Paris Motor Show of 1970, where it was one of three wedge-shaped 914 design exercises completed that year. ItalDesign completed another under the direction of boss Giorgetto Giugiaro that was called Tapiro. A third take was designed by Eurostyle Torino. The Heuliez design received an official name that fall at the Geneva Motor Show: Murene.

After the show circuit and per agreement, the Murene was the property of Brissonneau. Porsche decided to drop the 914 restyling idea for unstated reasons. Brissonneau didn’t hold on to the Murene for long, and Heuliez bought it from them in 1971. Heuliez immediately repainted the Murene from light brown to a super Seventies two-tone orange and beige and put it in his personal garage. Heuliez owned the Murene through 2012 (near the time of Heuliez’ closure) and restored it before its sale to a third private owner.

The Murene sold to its fourth happy owner in August 2021, for $159,914.

[Images: YouTube]

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14 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Prototype 1970 Porsche 914 Murene, by Heuliez...”


  • avatar
    05lgt

    Now we know what Walter White drove in college.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Why does a story about Porsche have photos of a Ford Pinto?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Yes that prototype is ugly. And yes 914’s were widely disparaged by Porsche enthusiasts as not being a true Porsche (not the only Porsche viewed that way). And yes there was a time when prices for 914’s were minimal.

    But no longer.

    Prices for 914s have comparatively skyrocketed. And unfortunately that also means that it is almost impossible to find a working VW Type IV as the engines from these have been removed for use in 914s.

    Some of you may remember my affinity for Type III’s and Type IV’s.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    It’s 1970. Paris. The sun is starting to set and the Seine glows in the oranges and reds of the fading light. In the distance, the hum of an underpowered engine gets louder. As it passes by, the sounds of Magma blare through the tinny 2-speaker stereo with static crackles. Clouds of not quite tobacco smoke pour through the barely opened windows. Being care-free Paris of 1970, there is no destination in mind, just the journey.

    Party on Wayne. Party on Garth.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Sweet baby Jesus, that thing is ugly. If the other two designs looked even remotely like this, it’s not a wonder why Porsche killed the design contest.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The nose bears an uncanny resemblance to the Opel GT of the era. However the pop up frog like headlights are very Porsche like.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    I’ve never driven the Toyota or Honda; back about 1992 or 1993 while vacationing my rental car was a Nissan Sentra. I was very impressed with it: The ride was excellent, the engine was extremely smooth and the interior first class. For me drive the Sentra, burn the Honda and the Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      What is is about the comments section on this site? Almost every article has at least one comment that is obviously for a different article. Is the commenting system broken or are there just a lot of drunks making comments here? :)

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        @Tagbert,

        There are two ways to leave a comment:
        A) Hit the “REPLY” button under a previous comment, or
        B) Leave a ‘new’ reply using the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the article

        Ever since the ‘continuous scrolling’ update* to the website which happened awhile back, if you are using the “Leave a Reply” box, it is relatively easy to scroll too far down the page in the process of entering your comment, at which point the website puts your comment into the next article.

        (Some commenters reload the page to be sure the comment was loaded correctly and will then clear the misplaced comment and post it on the correct article, but some people with actual things to do in life understandably skip this step.)

        *There are website enhancements which have been frequently requested by commenters, and there are website updates which actually get implemented. (Pretty much zero overlap between the two.)

        Clear?

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        @Tagbert,

        There are two ways to leave a comment:
        A) Hit the “REPLY” button under a previous comment, or
        B) Leave a ‘new’ reply using the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the article

        Ever since the ‘continuous scrolling’ update* to the website which happened awhile back, if you are using the “Leave a Reply” box, it is relatively easy to scroll too far down the page in the process of entering your comment, at which point the website puts your comment into the next article.

        (Some commenters reload the page to be sure the comment was loaded correctly and will then clear the misplaced comment and post it on the correct article, but some people with actual things to do in life understandably skip this step.)

        *There are website enhancements which have been frequently requested by commenters, and there are website updates which actually get implemented. (Pretty much zero overlap between the two.)

        Clear?

  • avatar

    It looks like one of those weird fiberglass kit cars. Simply horrendous. Not up to fun, funky French design standards at all.

  • avatar
    renewingmind

    It isn’t pretty but it seems like a pretty good deal for a one of one custom rebody of a classic Porsche. And I absolutely agree on the Opel GT vibes the headlights give off.

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