Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Minichamps 1/43 Porsche 916
An in-depth look at the spiritual predecessor of the 718 Cayman GT4.
In 1971, Porsche engineers created a legendary sports car that quickly faded to relative obscurity when they decided it wasn't profitable 11 units into the car's production run. Based on the 914, the 916 is different from the 914-6 most people confuse it with. Although the 914-6 does have a 911 2.0 flat-6, the 916 kicks it up a notch with the 911's 2.4 flat-6, producing 210 hp from the 911S. Although it was a rocket, Porsche pulled the plug after only making 11 units since it cost them too much to produce and develop. The result was a car priced in the same league as the Ferrari Dino 246, a car that the general public perceived as being of a higher pedigree. One of the cars was made to US-specifications and was sold through Brumos Porsche of Jacksonville, hence the titular picture.
If this sounds like a familiar recipe, look at the 981 Cayman GT4 and 982 718 Cayman GT4. They succeeded where the 916 didn't. It's one of those ideas where something is destined to failed because it was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The 916 might've been great, but the world wasn't ready for it considering the economic climate at the time. The GT4 proves that the recipe works and could've been a success. I bought this model off Amazon after not even knowing Minichamps made a model of it. I first learned about it last year in an issue of Christophorus, Porsche's proprietary magazine, after reading about the 914 variants and their histories.
Minichamps' rendition of the 916 dons a Black exterior with a Brown interior, which seems timeless. If you look closely, it has black Fuchs wheels with a silver lip. You might also notice the omission of the typical 914 targa top. The 916 had a metal top welded on from the factory to help with torsional and structural rigidity.
To help the car cope with the 210 hp from a heavier flat-6, the front and rear tracks were made wider to fit the Fuchs wheels with wider tires than the 914-6. Although fender flares look strange on a 914-based car, they have a functional purpose. It also says Porsche 916 in case you confused it with a 982 Boxster 25th or a C88.
The 916's front is styled differently for better aerodynamics and cooling for the disc brakes on all corners. It has two prominent fog lights in the bumper, which give it a different look to what you'd find in a normal 914. The German plate is registered in Braunschweig, which is a city that happens to have a Porsche dealership.
The wider stance of the 916 gives it better high speed stability compared to what you'd find in the 914-6. I can only imagine how good this car would be at autocrossing.
The Fuchs wheels in black with a silver lip are definitely the move on this car. You don't get much more Porsche than that.
The single-mirror and tiny exhaust pipe are both intricately detailed, which is nice to see on something that isn't much bigger than the average Hot Wheels.
Although this is a truly diminutive 1/43, Minichamps still found a way to make the interior gorgeous. It has the radio, dials, and climate controls. The only US-spec 916 had air-conditioning fitted as a dealer-installed accessory by Brumos.
The floormats say 916, which is a neat touch. You'll also notice that it has a nicely detailed shifter.
Although we can't see the 2.4 flat-6, we can see the mesh that goes above the engine behind the rear window.
The 916 deserved so much more credit and love than it ever got. Thankfully, the 916's heritage lives on in both this 1/43 model and in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, which is the same recipe adapted for the 21st century.