When icons collide
Porsche is one of the most celebrated automotive marques in the world and Los Angeles is of equal popularity as far as major world cities and tourist attractions go. Come spring time the two come together along with the masses of Porsche enthusiasts and owners alike to form Luftgekühlt. This may be the biggest and most popular event all year long on the West coast for Porsche fans all over the world. The creation of this event was brought about by factory Porsche race car driver Patrick Long and Freelance Creative Director and Designer, Howie Idelson. The idea for Luftgekühlt is to pay homage to the cars that were developed and engineered around Porsche’s trademark flat-six and air cooled engine design (Luftgekühlt is “air cooled’ in German). It’s not until you have a good look at Porsche’s past and take in all of the unique engineering and design concepts that you have a strong sense and appreciation for where the brand has been, where it is today and where they’re going. Having gone to the last two Luftgekühlt events there’s a consistent theme of minimalist but creatively executed design for the vendor space, and really what better way to compliment the classic lines of the last 68 years of Porsche cars since the creation of the legendary 356.
Trending in progress
If there was ever a doubt as to whether there is in fact a growing popularity in Porsche cars past and present the turnout at this year’s Luftgekühlt removed all doubt. While I’m not an official statistician for the event or any other cause, this year easily had twice to three times the number of last year’s attendees going by a visual assessment. This is both good and bad: Good, for the obvious reason that there will be another Luftgekühlt next year and that there are plenty of cars at which to gawk and drool over. Bad, because it’s harder for the photographer to grab shots and navigating through the thick of the crowds.
As can be expected of any gathering of any kind there’s a social aspect to the festivities as well. I’m not going to be negative and start criticizing anyone, but I will say that there seems to be a growing sense of the “who’s who” in not just the Porsche world, but the car enthusiast scene as well and while there are definitely people that are worthy of recognition for their contributions to the Porsche enthusiast community, we must not forget that we attend these events first and foremost for the cars. We should celebrate as such and use these types of settings to network and forge bonds over the cars and not what we can obtain for our own personal advantage for the sake of gaining status at the expense of cheapening the atmosphere and reputation for these types of events.
Luftgekühlt ’16 Top 5
I found after attending this year’s Luftgekühlt that there was definitely a top 5 of my favorite Porsche’s that were included as part of the many cars that turned out.
5. Porsche Abarth Carrera GTL
Among the first of the cars on this list is what you saw after entering through the gates at this year’s event, and that was none other than the 1960 Porsche Abarth Carrera GTL. Not only is this car rare, it was created for a specific purpose and to accomplish a particular goal: to be the fastest car in its class and win. And win it did at Le Mans in 1960 and was the only car in its class to do so. Fast-forward 56 years down the road and this car looks as good as it probably did when new, not only that but there’s an undeniable originality to its design. I’m not sure of the number of Carrera GTL’s still around today, but I’m certain the values are in the numerical heavens. How I wish I had the means!
Finding one in 1/18th scale was a mission in itself, but even the prices on those are out there. Another thing that resonates with me deeply about this particular car is its single minded approach to driving: One of the objectives for Carrera GTL was “lightweighting”, and that was achieved by lightening the body by 100 lbs over the standard car.
Contrast that where today even the most credible of performance cars can barely match such weight savings without drastic measures taken and they seldom achieve analog levels of tactility from behind the wheel that came so seemingly easily to cars of the Carrera GTL’s generation. While there are many options to choose from, the Carrera GTL serves as a reminder of some of Stuttgart’s finest demonstrations of performance and desirability.
4. 930 T’s by Urban Outlaw
The infamous urban outlaw and friend of Porsche, Magnus Walker showed up with two 930 T’s: A light metallic green and a completely blacked out example.
With this particular generations stalky stance complete with blistered wheel arches in the extreme, Walker’s subtle touches of black wheels on the metallic green car and lowered stance on both there’s something that just feels so true to the day when these cars were new and salivated over by men and boys the world over, a day that has yet to end. The 930 Turbo was the first car I experienced Porsche in and it’s also the car that ignited my “Porsche Passion”, a term I heard used for the first time by Magnus during his Ted Talks video however long ago.
Though known for its crowbar-through-the-glass reflexes that require a deft hand from behind the wheel, this is one of the standout models and generations of 911 in my book.
3. 904 Carrera GTS
The Porsche 904 Carrera GTS is a car I wish Porsche still manufactured today and one I believe might be within their ability to bring back to life. Whether or not it’s part of Porsche’s desire to do so is another matter. Just look at its track car stance and svelte mid-engine proportions, it’s no wonder this car still appears to be a favorite for numerous Porsche showcases and events all over the world. As an ex-transportation design student of many years past this is one of those cars that always gives me pause whenever I see it and causes me to simply just stop and stare.
Porsche should take the 918 Spyder’s design, close the roof and fit a flat engine out back with some turbos and call it a 904. I know, I know, endless speculation and wishing just begets more endless….blah-blah-blah, but we’re going to wish no matter what.
2. 964 Turbo
I didn’t get into the 964 generation until probably about a year ago. It’s certainly not one of the 911 models that reeks of nostalgia for me, probably because I was too distracted by my love affair with the 930 T and the subsequent introduction of the 993 generation when I was a kid. At Luftgekühlt this year were two 964’s of note: One for its color and the other for its type. The first was a dark Fuchsia colored example, and while not a particular fan of colors of this sort it just looks so right on this car. Porsche is known for offering a plethora of unique and tasteful colors from which to choose, or paint to sample albeit at a cost to many a deep-pocketed Porsche customer. The other car was a yellow 964 Turbo, the second before the last of the hairy chested air cooled 911 Turbos, it’s just a car you don’t see often and when you do you’re checking the details just to make sure it’s the real deal.
1. LUFTAUTO 930 Safari
Last but not least is the Luftgekühlt auction car, the LUFTAUTO 930 Safari. This is the everyday Porsche enthusiast 911, a car you can literally take almost anywhere. If you know me, you know I’m an adventurer and I don’t settle for limitations in my travels. For me this particular car is the ultimate expression of that philosophy. Obviously, the real inspiration for this car is the ’78 930 SC Safari campaigned in the East African Safari Rally that year. The organizers for Luftgekühlt this year built the car with the help of many talented individuals including a personal friend of mine and auctioned it off with proceeds going toward the “Autumn Leaves Project”, an organization with the mission of funding pancreatic cancer research. Bids started at $100k and closed at $275k, I’d call that a pretty successful auction that will benefit many in need. The car itself is chalk full of detailed craftsmanship with an eye toward authenticity: With full long travel suspension, a roof rack and a specially tuned drivetrain that can handle the toughest of conditions. The car ended up in the hands of a young and influential Porsche collector who will no doubt enjoy the car and treat it to many adventures. Now if I can devise a plan to build one of my own.
Luftgekühlt is hands down a must see for Porsche enthusiast everywhere. For this guy, the cars are what it’s all about and Luftgekühlt did not disappoint in any way. I cannot wait to attend next year where there will hopefully be even more unique and original Porsche’s on hand to celebrate the history of one of the most desirable and driving enthusiast orientated car brands ever. Porsche. There really is no substitute.