Classic Concepts: 1970 Porsche 914/6 Murène by Heuliez
These days, Brissonneau & Lotz builds industrial crane parts, but in the late sixties the French company operated as an automotive coachbuilder and had what would turn out to be two of the 20th Century’s most successful transport designers on its payroll.
One was Paul Bracq, who subsequently went on to become head of design at BMW and sire the legendary BMW Turbo concept of 1972. The other was Jacques Cooper, who not only collaborated with Bracq to create the first TGV turbotrain during their time together at B&L, but also penned a new shell for the VW-Porsche 914/6 during his stint there.
As many will know, the 914/6 was a joint collaboration intended to equip Volkswagen with a flagship sports car, and Porsche with an entry-level model to slot in beneath the 911. Although thousands were ultimately sold, the 914 venture wasn’t without its problems: the death of VW Chairman Heinrich Nordhoff led to complications in the union of the two manufacturers, while the abrupt styling caused opinions to diverge. Enter Jacques Cooper, who sought to resolve the latter by penning a sleek alternative body on behalf of his employers.
Despite its bold styling, the Murène failed to stimulate the affections of Porsche. As a result, once Heuliez had paid B&L for the donor car and conferred a final act of benevolence upon it in the form of new orange paintwork to the top section, the car was whisked away into storage – still unregistered. It remained there until recently, when it was given a full overhaul courtesy of the Heuliez Historic department before being sold at auction alongside several of its equally unique brethren.
Porsche might have overlooked the Murène, but it fulfilled its intended purpose – Heuliez subsequently gained traction in the automotive sector, plugging niche markets with small-series vehicles. And while it didn’t spawn a limited series production run, the Murène certainly offered a captivating alternative to the familiar original produced by the German carmaker.
The Murène will be one of many Heuliez cars auctioned by Artcurial at the Le Mans Classic, 7 July 2012. See below for details.
Photos: Archives Heuliez