[Editor's note: you can find our gigantic mega-gallery of Luftgekühlt 4 by clicking here.]
I have a confession to make: I don’t like car shows. Sure, I love automobiles in all shapes and sizes, but cars and coffee? No thanks. I'd rather have caffeine in the comfort of my own cot. Concours? Schmoncours. Why people get so excited to dress up like they’re going to a ball only to walk on grass under the scorching sun is perplexing. Me? I’d much rather go on a drive through a canyon with a group of friends. That is, unless it’s Luftgekühlt.
German for "air-cooled," Luftgekühlt is a gathering of classic Porsches before they converted to water for cooling. I know how pretentious that might sound, but it’s the furthest thing from it. And the credit for that goes to the two creators behind the event, Patrick Long, a works driver for Porsche with two class wins at the 24 Hour of Le Mans, and long-time friend Howie Idelson, a creative director. The two have curated a unique experience that combines both historic Porsche classics with those driven-in by owners at venues that are as much a part of the experience as the cars.
The inaugural Luftgekühlt was held at Deus Ex Machina, a coffee shop and apparel store in Venice with a retro motorcycle slant. The second one was held at Bandito Brothers, a video production agency housed in a converted warehouse space. Last year's third outing was held at Modernica, a mid-century furniture factory with a sprawling campus. In each case, the locations served as urban canvases painted with colors from Zuffenhausen. Vehicles were thoughtfully placed in and out of structures, taking attendees on a Porsche-themed journey of discovery. Cars stacked in parking lots and grassy lawns - what usually turns me off from car shows - is the opposite of what's happening here. Combine that careful attention to aesthetics with an approachable, laid-back vibe, a diverse crowd, and you have a car show unlike anything else.
With the 2017 Luftgekühlt, Long, Idelson and team outdid themselves. Held at the former warehouses in the Port of Los Angeles, this year's venue continued the growth trend in square footage. The effort put into staging the vehicles was breathtaking, with chandeliers and backdrop prints framed vintage Porsches. Despite bouts of uncharacteristic rain in Southern California, 600 registered air-cooled versions of Stuttgart's finest and many more in the parking lot emerged in force (rust be damned), along with vast crowds.
Selecting our favorites would’ve been too tough a task. Instead, we deferred to the expertise of Patrick Long. Arm twisted, the Porsche driver decided on six. See his selects below and check out the gallery with some of our favorite moments from the event.
6. 1979 935 K3
Introduced in 1977 race season, the turbocharged 935 was a race-variant of the 911, and a very successful one at that. The 935’s motorsports legacy culminated at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans where the Porsche model swept the podium, placing 1st through 3rd overall, besting the prototype class. The Kremer team took the top spot with Klaus Ludwig, Don Whittington and Bill Whittington behind the wheel. Fun fact: Paul Newman was one of the pilots in the 935 that finished 2nd overall.
“This is the 1979 overall winner from the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Long. “It is the holy grail of GT cars in my book.”
5. 1952 Porsche-Glöckler 356 Weidenhausen Roadster - silver #44
Walter Glöckler was a successful VW dealer in Frankfurt during the post-war era. He was one of the first to race Porsches, working closely with Zuffenhausen on his efforts. Vehicle #44 is considered one of the most influential of the partnerships. Based on a 356, the car was extensively lightened and a new body was constructed out of aluminum. A 1.5-liter engine was tuned to run on alcohol and produced 86 hp. With Glöckler’s cousin Helm at the wheel, the car set a class record at the Nürburgring in the spring of 1952 and would go on to win the 1952 German Championship.
4. 1971 914-6 GT Monte Carlo Rally Race Car
The 914-6 GT was a race-spec version of the six-cylinder 914. Porsche entered one in the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing 6th overall, ahead of any 911s – a fact all 914 owners will quickly reach into their pocket for. In addition, they entered the model into select rally races.
“The 914 owned by Jeff Zwart is racing history,” said Long. “This factory ‘werks’ raced at Monte Carlo, Targa Floria, and other significant events.”
3. 1992 911 964 RS N/GT.
Prices for air-cooled Porsches have been rising at a pace that would shame Warren Buffett. For rare models, even more so. Take the 911 RS N/GT, for example. The RS took a 964 and stripped it down for weight and added in a revised M64/03 engine producing 260 hp; the N/GT delivered a blank metal cabin with racing seats, making it a race ready. Only 290 units of the 964 RS N/GT were produced and one recently sold for $193,660 at a Silverstone Auctions.
“Lightweight, no frills and race inspired,” are traits Long appreciated in the 964 RS N/GT. “The Rubystone color is one of a kind.”
2. 1955 356 Coupe
This pre-A 356 barn find is known as "Straight out of Compton" because it was found, literally, in the city of Compton. Rod Emory and Emory Motorsports did a light restoration job before it made its debut the 2017 Luftgekühlt.
“I love survivor cars and love that this pre-A 356 is from L.A,” said Long. “The clean lines and preserved look is amazing, and the body finish is one for the record books.”
1. 1985 Rally 911 Carrera
LUFTAUTO was the Luftgekühlt team’s take on a rally-capable, Baja-style Porsche. The ’85 911 debuted at last year’s event and was sold off at auction by RM Sotheby’s for $275,000, with all proceeds going to the Autumn Leaves Project, a charity for pancreatic cancer research. This year’s Signal Yellow incarnation is known as LUFTAUTO 002, the group’s second take at a similar build.
“This is a car that you can drive daily or through Baja,” said Patrick Long. “It’s our answer to a pickup truck.”