Classic Cars

Luftgekühlt 8 And The Perennial Popularity Of Air-Cooled Porsches • Petrolicious

Since its first edition in 2014, Luftgekühlt has become the de facto template against which all other “elevated” car shows are judged. Accessible, laid back, and open-minded, it can be thought of as an antithesis to the stodgy concours circuit and the lazily strung-together “Luft” imitators alike. 

One-make events are nothing new, but just as Singer almost singlehandedly redefined the restomod paradigm and set a new reference point for all that followed in its wake, the guys behind Luft took a very simple idea—a car show featuring only air-cooled Porsches—and showed us what’s possible when attention is paid to the very last detail. Every sight line is composed down to the inch, every theme is simultaneously easy to spot and perfectly woven together into the overall mesh. Only something so particularly prepared can feel so naturally occurring. Even those that are totally indifferent to Porsches will find their attention thoroughly yanked around at Luftgekühlt. 

The eighth edition retread old ground (the fourth event was held at the same Port of Los Angeles warehouse/brewery), but it managed to shake off any semblance of staleness and instead continued along the steep trajectory set by the creative team behind the air-cooled phenomenon, namely longtime Porsche factory driver Patrick Long, visionary designer and art director Howie Idelson, and the seemingly effortlessly creative and easy to love photographer Jeff Zwart. 

Of course none of this would come together so nicely if the foundation of the show was rotted out malaise-era Buicks rather than the wide world of Porsche. The original 2.7 RS took on the main display honors this year in celebration of the half-century anniversary, and was joined by  younger generations of the Rennsport lineage peppered throughout the rest of the indoor/outdoor venue. 

Elegant racing models from the pre-917 era were joined by the brutally and less conventionally beautiful turbocharged 934/935 machines to display the brand’s diverse success in the motorsport canon, with a few of the earlier wide-hipped 911 RS and RSR race cars thrown into the mix alongside a handful of competitive 914s and 356s, and capped off with a few of the final air-cooled Cup car hurrah in the form of vibrantly liveried 993s. The oddest of the racing bunch, though, was surely Bruce Canepa’s old Pikes Peak creation: a tube-frame Frankenbuggy powered by a modified flat-six from a 930. Given the chance to drive just one car from the event, this would be a strong contender. 

Not into motorsport? The selection of street cars would have surely sated you. From the highly preserved and completely OEM examples (the gold 993 Turbo was a favorite of ours) to majorly modified Safari builds, near-budgetless restomods like Singer’s recent reimagining of the 930, and relics of the bygone tuner era (check out those side strakes on the pearlescent white 930-based “969”), to RUF CTRs, and more modified 964s and 993s than one could keep track of, Luft 8 reminded us just how wide-ranging the Porsche family really is. And that surely extends to the people as well. You’ll find all types at a Luftgekühlt event, and the eighth was no different. As typical as it is to say, we’re already excited to be a part of the crowd for the next edition—see you there.

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