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Luftgekühlt – A Celebration of the Air Cooled Porsche

Why would hundreds of Porsche owners bring their toys to a dead end tucked in an industrial neighborhood of Los Angeles on a Sunday morning under threatening skies?  The answer?  The common love and respect for the air-cooled engine that powered every Porsche model from the company’s inception until 1998.


The event was called Luftgekühlt which means “air cooled” when translated from German.  The hosts, designer and artist Howie Idelson and current Porsche factory race driver Patrick Long, came up with the idea while brainstorming about what they’d like to see in a car event.

Manicured acres of lush green golf courses?  Sterilized displays behind ropes?  Exclusive admission to select invitees?  Nope.  The vision involved a lot more grit and a very intentional nod to design using the iconic air-cooled Porsche as a common thread.

Modernica, a furniture factory and warehouse in Vernon, provided a 5 acre venue for the third edition of Luftgekühlt.  A mix of asphalt pavement and working warehouses provided the texture and setting for the hundreds of Porsches that descended on the property.  Prior editions were held in Venice at Deus ex Machina (a global design shop focused on surfing, motorcycles and bicycles) in September 2014 and Bandito Brothers (development of films, television shows and documentaries) in March 2015.  Deus ex Machina is now a partner in the effort and future events might be outside the US.


For the window shopping Porsche enthusiast, attendance offered a wide selection across the hundreds of cars parked around the grounds.  Some were thematically arranged and others were less so.  Huge kudos to those who woke up early, tidied up their cars, and finished off bits of mechanical maintenance to make it to the show.  Attendees brought quite the range.

Clearly Patrick and friends had done a lot of smiling and dialing to encourage attendance from particular people and cars.  Their work paid off handsomely and was augmented by many others who just wanted to join the fun.


Looking for time capsule early 356 models that would compete for honors at any concours in the world?  Check.

Looking for examples of almost every air-cooled 911 model ever offered for sale?  Check.

Looking for models dripping with patina looking like they’ve just been recovered from a forgotten barn?  Check.

Looking for the lovingly customized, but thoroughly outlaw?  Rod Emory brought a whole fleet of 356 models that met that criteria alone.  Check.


Looking for two different Singer Porsches, the pure expression of one person’s vision of the best aspects of every 911 model combined with cutting edge carbon fiber and Cosworth influence?  Looking for the Bahama Yellow 1969 911E that Singer founder Rob Dickenson and TRE Motorsports built that served as the inspiration for the Singer project?  Check and check.


Looking for full representation from the R Gruppe – whether formal members or inspired by the concept?  Check.


Looking for specialist cars from Ruf?  Some full Ruf versions and others with Ruf wheels?  Check.

Looking for the outrageous fender flares of a Rauh Welt Begriff Porsche?  They may not be to everybody’s taste, but there were four versions on site. Check.


Looking for a supercar?  The Porsche 959 was water cooled, but a white example of the 1980s icon got a pass from its air cooled brethren and greeted visitors as they entered the grounds.

Walking around, one knows that many of the cars have their own unique stories and history.  In some cases, that history might have been the story of acquisition, restoration and thousands of miles.  In other cases, the story was one of particular historical significance of a very small production run, racing pedigree, or noteworthy owners.  At some point, there is a degree of guilt when realizing that you just can’t do justice to each car and each story.  Any one of a long row of cars could be a star at any other car show.  The mind can only handle so much at one time.

The parking lots at some events rival what’s inside the formal boundaries of the event and this was definitely one of those.  Your humble scribe may have wandered the parking lots for about an hour before finding the way inside the gates in the company of many goodies, Porsches and otherwise.


Perhaps one of the most impressive things was the breadth of the people in attendance.  Kids were welcome and common.  Younger Porsche enthusiasts rubbed shoulders with more seasoned students of the marque.  Owners opened up their cars and readily answered questions.

Ropes or barriers were nowhere to be seen.  This despite the presence of unobtanium like Jeff Zwart’s 1949 Porsche Gmund coupe – the very last car made in Gmund, Austria before Porsche moved to Stuttgart?


Yes, there were various celebrities and people well known within the hobby mingling among the crowd and cars, but the knowledgeable crowd tended to focus on noteworthy cars.  Some cars are well known by Southern California residents as they are seen at weekend get-togethers, canyon runs, and cars and coffee events.  Others are famous because of builds and restorations documented on the internet.

One such car was a safari rally project car based on a 1985 coupe donated by Patrick.  A variety of shops and vendors contributed to construct a unique car that was auctioned off for charity during the event.  There had been significant advance social media coverage of the project and a large crowd gathered to watch the car find a new buyer for the tidy sum of $275,000.

The event was not a concours or a competition.  There were no prizes for cleanest, most original, or anything else.  It was just a simple and pure concept very well executed. The organizers had to be very pleased (and likely overwhelmed) by the support and participation.  They will take a breath and think about planning the next one at some point.  Keep an eye out and add it to your calendar.


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