Two weeks ago, a diverse crowd of automotive enthusiasts gathered at a Torrance, California lumberyard to gawp and gaze at a collection of incredible machinery, talk shop, and celebrate the history of air-cooled Porsches. The venue choice not only provided a connection to Porsche’s air-cooled history, but was necessitated by the growing turnout in recent years; roughly one-thousand Porsches were in attendance this year (and 8,000 spectators)—up from just a few dozen cars four years prior. Thanks to the media presence, the vintage auto fans, and the mechanically-inclined hipsters from Venice flooding the latest gathering, Luftgekühlt (German for air-cooled) has now become the one of the largest Porsche gatherings in North America.
With so many attending such a niche event, its appeal is hard to pinpoint. However, Luftgekühlt seems to blend the luxurious aspect of a Pebble Beach auction with the informal air of a Cars and Coffee-style meet. Graced by the presence of Porschephile celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Zwart, Rod Emory, and Vic Elford; as well as iconic machines like a Schuppan 962CR, a 964 RSR, and a 908K, the event enjoyed a certain level of cachet. It was also a theatrical event; Elford started and revved the 908K, a car he once raced, to the delight of his fans.
The audience was made up of automotive enthusiasts from all sorts of backgrounds, as reflected by the broad array of machines and the relaxed atmosphere. Having a 924 parked a few feet from an iconic 934/5 brought fans closer together and diminished some of the haughtiness associated with vintage car meets.
Having these priceless artifacts from Porsche’s motorsport history, a few famous faces, and the varied fanbase offers a unique atmosphere, and “tells a story,” as Long notes. With music, food, art, and culture woven into the air-cooled narrative, there was plenty to enjoy—and plenty of promise for growth down the road.