A Little Rainwater Didn’t Stop The Air-Cooled Porsche Excellence At Luft GB
Photography by Will Broadhead
If you’ve dipped a toe into the vintage Porsche world in the last five years you’ve surely heard of the Luftgekühlt in California, the show that for the last five years has combined 935s with pre-A 356s and all manner of 911 along with the rest of the diverse legacy of air-cooled Porsche road and race cars in beautiful settings.
Brainchild of Patrick Long and Howie Idleson, Luftgekühlt’s first event was held in 2014, and every year since the relaxed gathering of cool people and astounding Porsches in inspiring spaces, or at least that’s how it seems to the eyes of those of us on this side of the pond, restricted as we are to photographs and post event prose. California is a long ways away from where I’m writing this in England, so imagine my, and no doubt others’, delight when it was announced that Luft was packing up and heading to these shores for a morning of naturally refrigerated fun at the once RAF-bomber-base-and-now-very-hip Bicester Heritage compound of buildings and airfields.
Luft GB as the event was named was all set to go, and with the weather our little island has been basking in for the last couple of months it was set to be a home away form home for our sun-kissed cousins putting it on for their friends across the Atlantic, right?
Wrong, as it turns out. Despite the mercury bubbling to over 35°C (95°F) during the week, waking up on Sunday morning to make the short drive up to Bicester I found that the usual plight of the British summer had returned with a vengeance.
The wind rattled the windows as the familiar sound of torrential rain beat a vicious tattoo on the pavement outside. A little slower to wake than on days with a bit of sunshine to help me out of bed, I played the snooze game with the alarm clock for much longer than I had planned, but rain or no rain I was still excited for a morning in the company of my favorite three digits in the world of sports cars, and upon arrival to Bicester I was not disappointed.
It’s more than likely that the numbers were down on what was expected, but the turn-out of German machinery at the old RAF airbase was still an excellent showing, both by Porsche owners and spectating enthusiasts alike for making a day of it. And indeed the attendance remained high throughout the event; although some owners understandably dispersed throughout the morning, the gathering that was supposed to conclude at 1PM, was still going strong when I made my own late exit well past the finishing hour. No surprise really I suppose, as the cars on show were a wonderful break from the typical 911-only gatherings of the marque. However much I like seeing a pack of them at a show somewhere, it’s even better to see them in race trim with some extended family in addition to the extended flares.
A cacophony in visual form, the colorful palette dominated by ‘60s and ‘70s hues did much to pierce through the grey offerings from the atmosphere, adding some artificial but more than welcome brightness to what would have otherwise been a miserable morning of rain and barely-rain.
Favorites included an RSR sat resplendent in its red shell, opposite of which was a 901-era Porsche 911 race machine from Historika, usually driven by Andrew Smith and Olly Bryant. A beautiful green 904 Carrera GTS that while always a welcome bit of artwork was especially captivating in its unique and locale-correct shade of green. Other notable cars included a mixture of original and tribute race cars like the 993 GT2 campaigned by Thierry Boutsen, Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Bill Adam, a replica of the 1973 RSR of the legendary Brumos outfit from Florida, and the always eye-catching bright orange of a Jaegermeister 934.
I could continue to list cars all day, such was the strength and depth of what was on display despite the weather being so nasty to us. The automotive element was so good in fact that I barely noticed as the drizzle seeping into my clothes and equipment, and the puddles created by the varying degrees of the day’s rain did at least accentuate the cars in addition to the tracks of raindrops on the bodywork highlighting the famous curves across generations.
To see examples of the earlier days of simple but striking sports cars like the little blue 550 Spyder, the first steps of the 911’s legendary story like the RS models, the modern reinterpretation of these cars like the impressive Singer-modified option, or just a beloved 911S in a great color.
Each garage and parking space was a scene of beauty, all set as they were against the historic backdrop of the base. If it were a barren parking lot with this kind of dreariness in the sky the crowd of knowledgeable and friendly enthusiasts would surely have been thinner.
Preparing to leave, I overheard a group of them debating the standout car of the day. “Come on then lads, what’s the car of the show?” I didn’t hear what he got in reply, but I couldn’t add me sole pick—too many candidates.