Simply "Air Cooled" in the common tongue, Luftgekühlt is one of those shows that just has to be seen to be believed. If you say it fast enough, the final syllable rolls from 'kyoolt' lazily into 'cult', and I'm not convinced that's not what this event really is at its core. We Porsche folk are really embroiled in the 'cult' of the brand, and we live it, breathe it, and drive it every day. The enthusiasm seen at Luftgekühlt however, as far as I have witnessed, is second only to that of last year's Rennsport Reunion.
The event was slated to start at 9AM, so we were sure to get to Modernica at 8AM, thinking we'd be able to check out all of the cars as they rolled in. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, about a hundred other people had the same idea, and arrived even earlier. A line of aircooled Porsches three blocks long was already waiting to get in to the show by the time we'd arrived. We knew that the show would be massive, but we were hardly prepared for what was to come.
The great thing about this show, however, wasn't the cars, but rather the people. It seemed like you couldn't walk two feet without bumping into someone you knew from the community. If you're at all involved in the world of Porsche, especially on the west coast, there were hundreds of friends to say hello to. Sometimes, you'd even be in the middle of a conversation with someone or another, and someone else would pop in and say hello to either them or you or both at once. There were lots of waves and high-fives and hand shakes and hugs, shoulder pats and introductions. There were folks there from the media, people from Porsche North America enjoying a day off, Porsche celebrities (and Hollywood celebrities as well) in attendance. It was utterly amazing to see. I even reconnected with a friend from Michigan that I hadn't seen in a handful of years.
The cars were the centerpiece, but the people made the show what it was. Literally thousands of enthusiasts showed up. This is heartening for folks like me, as it means that enthusiasm for the Porsche brand isn't dying out any time soon. I spend my year travelling to all number of Porsche-centric events, primarily focused around the earlier aircooled cars. In those travels, I've noticed a disturbing trend of ever-aging demographics. At a recent 356 gathering, I was the only person in attendance with an age that started with 2. Luftgekühlt, however, has captured some kind of magic that gets the youngsters involved. Trendy locations, social media marketing, and a laid-back vibe probably contribute a lot to that. So are events like this kindling a desire for early aircooled Porsches in the hearts of the next generation? I really think they might be.
If you ever needed any indication that this event is a labor of love for Patrick Long, all you need to do is see him directing traffic at the gates. That's right, a Le Mans winning Porsche factory driver takes time from his busy schedule to run an event for enthusiasts, and he gets down in the trenches and works just as hard as anyone else. He was taking tickets, he was giving people change, he was putting out fires on his walkie talkie, and he was telling people where to park. It might be official, the diminutive ginger might be the coolest person on earth.
As cool as the people are, it is the cars that are the stars. Just after walking in the gates, I saw a Carrera GTL Abarth, a 1949 Gmund coupe, a Porsche Junior tractor, and a 959. Front-loading an event like that might be cause for concern, but not with a show like Luftgekühlt. Take a walk around and you'll see a handful of Rauh-Welt cars, a trio of Singers, a 906, a full row of Emory-built specials, a low-mile street 934, an Interscope Carrera RSR, a 914-based pickup-truck, and so much more. It was a festival for the eyes, as there was something really cool around every corner, inside every building, and within sight at all times. Every square inch was filled with interesting and exciting Porsches. There was so much to see, the lot at Modernica filled before 9:30, and the lot next door had to be opened up to make room. As it would happen, all of the wassergekühlt cars were kicked to that lot as well. There were a handful of them, though fewer than you'd think. If you want to get really technical, there were two cars with water cooling allowed into the air-cooled only zone; Bruce Canepa's 959, (which like all 959s uses water cooling for the cylinder heads), and the Bisimoto 930 (which has a crazy-built 996-era M96 engine with a pair of giant turbochargers). We'll give them a pass, right?
All in all, this was one of the coolest Porsche events I've ever attended, and I need to make sure this one is on my list every year. I'm going to suggest you do the same, because it was well worth it for us to drive over 1200 miles to get there and back home. See you there next year?
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[All photos ©2016 FLATSIXES/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved.]