Discover An Air-Cooled Porsche Paradise Hidden On A Tropical Island
Story and photography by Jenna V. Genio
A collection of vintage Porsches isn’t something one expects to discover on some tropical island in Southeast Asia. You might believe someone when they tell you, but you aren’t likely to stumble across something like this. Tucked away on the side of a woodsy hill in Cebu, part of the Visayas chain of islands and an hour’s flight from the Philippines’ capital Metro Manila, is one man’s trove of air-cooled treasure.
Though typically shaded by the tropical foliage above, today we’re shedding some light on Jay Aldeguer’s piece of Porschephile heaven. After the era of forums, Jay was swept up by the age of social media and joined Instagram. He started modestly, just posting some photos of his cars and drives from time to time, not anticipating the international community’s response to his content—the eyeballs and followers started pouring in, the amount of which still surprises him. Wanting to see for myself the entirety of his collection, I booked a flight.
The journey to the AircooledPH HQ began in the waters of the Cebu Strait, before crawling through the increasing traffic of the island’s growing metropolis to arrive at the concrete jungle’s outskirts, where a village gate leads away from the muggy urban heat into a hilly residential area blessed with breezes and forests in place of the hot gusts of smell in the grey city. Up above it all, nestled under the canopy of trees is Jay’s ivy-covered bachelor pad—a small home built for one out of an old family bodega. Separated, and with his children all grown up by now, it’s all Jay really needs. Don’t we all need a garage full of our dream cars?
Right across the front door is his garage, symbolizing 20 years of his relationship with Porsche. Thanks to walls doubling as sliding glass doors, the view from his large antique table to the cars is unobstructed. He had the garage built out of necessity for the amount of cars he now has, but even their current glassed-in shelter is just a temporary structure. “I was surprised to get good feedback on it,” Jay says. He also laughs whenever someone drops a Ferris Bueller reference. “I get comments like that at least once a week.”
Jay married early and started his business when he was just a 22-year-old entrepreneur—counting himself lucky to have settled down and achieved a fair amount of success at a young age. After dedicating all his time to work and his family for years, he thought about getting himself a toy at age 27. The year was 1997. He never dreamt of owning a sports car, or at least not seriously, but local dealerships had just begun offering the Mazda Miata, appealing to his demographic. He got the roadster and began his first love affair with a sports car, driving the Mazda all over Cebu’s mountainous roadway system. Then, following the Miata and a short and disappointing relationship with an underpowered 1.8L BMW Z3, Jay found his very first Porsche. It was a low-mileage, white 1974 911S Targa, gathering dust in the corner of a warehouse for imported cars.
“I was so drawn to it that I would visit the car every day, I couldn’t take my mind off it. But I was hesitant because I had just bought a new sports car that year, but regardless of practicality there was a strange attraction to the Targa,” Jay recalls. After taking it for a test drive on Christmas Eve, he sleeplessly pined over the car throughout the holidays until New Year’s Eve, when he bit the bullet. Even his concerned father later admitted that it was a nice car.
After the ’74 Targa, he acquired a 912 and a 964 while exploring classic cars from other marques (along the way he’s owned jewels like the Jaguar E-Type and Mercedes-Benz W113 SL “Pagoda”). “It was be so painful, reading articles pointing out that the most undesirable Porsches were the ones that I had,” Jay recalls in hindsight. “I was happy with them, but of course it hurt a bit. It kind of challenged me to find what many of them would consider better-performing Porsches… The minute I realized I was seriously interested in older Porsches, I’d go around Manila and sometimes Cebu to spend time with anyone who’d be willing to talk to me about them. Even if I didn’t have the budget yet to buy any of their cars, I’d visit these gentlemen with their Porsches, ask questions, and listen to stories. Then, after a few years, when people wanted to sell, they knew whom to get in touch with. It wasn’t that easy, but that’s the gist of it I suppose. For the first ten years though, it was hard to track down all of these cars out here.”
Now 47 years old, Jay owns, at the time of writing, 14 cars bearing the Porsche crest; his home stable reflects only the tip of the iceberg, but it is these cars, the ones he keeps the closest, that are his favorites. The Irish Green 1968 911S Targa is his most recently completed restoration project, and an acquisition he’s particularly proud of. The Targa version was the lowest-production 911 variant made between 1967-1973, with only 442 units built. However, its undeniable rarity doesn’t stop Jay from taking it on road trips.
Another one he’s keen on is his short-wheelbase, yellow 1966 911. This car isn’t just a Sunroof Coup—Jay discovered in his research that it was a special-order car, outfitted with numerous options and curious, nonstandard additions. Some investigation into its history led to the possibility that it might’ve been built for a prince of Bahrain.
Walking a few steps over, behind the glass doors sits the orange 1968 912 Jay bought soon after his very first Porsche purchase, from its original owners no less—a couple who spent their honeymoon driving it around Long Beach when the car was brand new. It was parked right beside a silver 1972 911T, which Jay considers his best-running ride and is the current daily driver. Turning a few degrees to look outside the garage, I notice another; a 1973 914 2.0L that was tuned for the track, having previously been raced for some time in Manila
Jay’s red, five-speed 1989 Turbo Cabriolet also made an appearance. He insists that it’s a manageable drive, as many of the 930’s turbo-related “problems” were smoothed out for the later models, and his is the last year of the series. Funnily enough though, he later divulged that he’d just bought a genuine “widow maker”: a 1976 Turbo 3.0L.
Side-by-side at the back of the garage were two of Jay’s 356s. The black 1964 356C was his first serious, initially daunting restoration project. After overcoming that challenge, the finished car gave Jay more confidence to tackle more projects. He’s since become obsessed with, as he says, “Trying to save what’s out there.” Any Porsche he comes across, regardless of condition, he seriously considers as a candidate for restoration. Indeed, more than half of his cars weren’t running when he got them; now they all do. Jay wants to breathe new life into these time machines, while staying true to era specifications.
He identifies as a bit of a purist, but is developing more courage and curiosity related to tinkering with the OEM packages. Now he’s building an Emory-inspired 356A Outlaw—using an engine from a late SCCA racer that’s been tuned by Black Forest Motorsport. Beyond adding power, he lightened the car, installed Lexan windows, and bought a matching Emory-designed, limited-edition Vintage Electric Outlaw Tracker bike to accompany it. The build’s almost done, and Jay plans to use the car for touristic rallies like the annual Tour de Cebu he helps organize. “I also want to spend more time on the track with instructors, I constantly want to learn. I know I haven’t taken full advantage of the performance of these cars yet.”
AircooledPH’s latest project is another horizon-expanding endeavor. Jay and his friends are now embarking on building replicas from scratch. His germinating 904 idea has opened a new chapter in Jay’s journey with Porsches, and only feeds the existing enthusiasm. The team is trying to recreate the beautiful ‘60s sports car as accurately as possible with the help of blueprints and the classic Porsche community; with someone as dedicated to the brand as Jay involved, it should emerge as one of the more faithful versions of the iconic car.
This all begs an obvious question: why the Porsche fixation? “The drive, it’s as simple as that. When I was hooked on vintage cars, I started to explore a diverse lineup. I’d fall in love with the looks of different cars, but always went back to the Porsches. It’s hard to describe beyond that,” says Jay, “Porsches are very robust, hardy cars—very responsive. They just captivate me, with an X factor you just can’t pin down.”
It’s not easy collecting classic cars in the Philippines where imports are rare, import markups high, and the weaves of bureaucracy demoralizing and discouraging. Because of this reality, Jay understands the concept of “placeholders” well—what a collector temporarily settles for before finding a unicorn. However, he doesn’t buy and restore cars merely to flip. More often than not, they end up staying with him, a tendency to hold on that’s earned him the nickname “Black Hole.” His aren’t garage queens either. He frequently uses his Porsches to go on long drives beyond the short jaunts to local gatherings—whether it’s into the mountains through the back gate of his village, or island-hopping via ferries all around the Visayas, the cars get around.
Though it looks ripped from imagination, Jay’s air-cooled collection and beautiful garage were never part of some childhood dream, the factors just lined up. He calls the progression natural, intuitive, and even sprinkled with luck. Maybe it’s destiny though; after all, Jay’s the type to commit 100% toward anything he sets his heart and mind to, and friends and family have never judged the hard-working man for his hobby. Having grown up in a modest island community, he appreciates the sophisticated prestige and sporting heritage of the brand, while recognizing Porsches as relatively understated sports cars—dignified, neither ostentatious. “These older Porsches are not as flashy as some things in the vintage car world, I mean they’re basically glorified VWs, right?” Jay chuckles.