Luftgekühlt 5: probably the coolest Porsche show in the world
Water is for fish, not old school Porsches – and even water-cooled Carrera GTs were made to park outside at the fifth running of the Los Angeles 'Luftgekühlt'
With this fifth rendition of the Luftgekühlt all-Porsche, all air-cooled gathering in and around industrial Los Angeles, 'Lufti' has gone from a great idea to a cool event and on to pure 'happening' status; one of international significance drawing many visitors from far outside North America.
It is absolutely now A Thing – and in fact has been for several years. Even if your Porschespeak is sharper than your German, you likely know, or can figure out, that Luftgekühlt literally means air-cooled.
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The brainchild of factory Porsche racer Patrick Long and enthusiast friend and business partner Howie Idelson, with lots of influence and help from other like-minded Porsche owners, enthusiasts, and business people, Luftgekühlt celebrates all that is air-cooled Porsche, from the earliest Gmünd coupés to Spyders to ratty 914s, and show quality street machines, track ready racers.
There was everything from Pebble Beach Concours-ready to dirtbag and rust-rod specials. And just about every 356, 911, 912, 914, and 930 model you can name or identify was welcome no matter its story, history or lack thereof. Not to mention George Follmer’s Can-Am 917.
This year also celebrated 30 years since the auto show reveal of the 964 so plenty of them on hand, in every candy-colored hue, RS America, RS, and an über-rare, one-of-45, all original, never raced North American model 964 Carrera Cup. A specially curated group of 914/6s included the factory’s engineering and durability prototype, fully restored to factory freshness.
Among several Le Mans competitors was Porsche’s first, the alloy-bodied Gmünd 356/2-063, belonging to long time Porsche enthusiast collector Cameron Healy.
So far the event has been held in a different location each of its now five years. For 2018 it moved to a huge commercial lumber and supply yard in Torrance California.
Now, a car show in a lumber yard may not sound like a dazzling notion, but this fabulous Ganahl Lumber property had it all: architecturally interesting spaces, both in and out of doors, adequate parking nearby (yes, the water-cooled Carrera GTs had to park outside the event gate), enough space inside the gates to house the entire show, and the thousands of spectators.
The outdoor area comprised at least ten acres, much of it divided up with 30 meter tall industrial racks containing lumber of all shape and size. This created shaded areas, visual interest, and a wonderful foresty smell.
Hurley Haywood was on hand selling and signing his fabulous new autobiography, Hurley, From the Beginning and each copy must weigh four kilos. Chad McQueen and numerous other racer and Hollywood types cruised around the show, and Jerry Seinfeld’s 1949 Gmünd coupé was also on display.
In the event you’ve never seen, live and in person, a Singer Vehicle Design 'restored and reimagined' 911, there was more than a handful sprinkled around the property this day.
What really made this event click is the generally low key, run what you brung nature of the day. There were certainly many show winning and concours caliber cars staged around the grounds, but they were parked next to hot rods, racers and Outlaws alike, and daily drivers of all luftgekühlt stripe.
Come one, come all, celebrate Porsche, and spend the day at a cool place with your like-minded friends. There was no judging, no points, no trophies or any such stress adders. The variety of hardware was breathtaking beyond words, something for everybody, and lots for everyone.
Of course there are costs in putting on such a gathering, but the organizers didn’t gouge; car and walk-in entry fees were all reasonable. In the courtyard there were plenty of interesting booths to check out, with a wide variety of catering. Event-branded wearables, posters and such weren’t cheap, but of high quality and sold with vigor.
Every helper, employee and volunteer was also an enthusiast, and each was super-friendly. The sky was bright blue and dry, the temperature warm, the beer cold, and ultimately it was an ideal day for a perfectly formed all-Porsche event. Big congrats to Idelson and Long who played perfect hosts.
Photography by Evan Klein
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