My First Air-Cooled Experience Was In This Porsche 911 2.7 RS
Story and Photography by Siddarth Pandey
It’s 5 a.m. and I’m rubbing my eyes as the rising sun turns the sky into beautiful shades of blue and gold. I’m standing in a residential community in Dubai, waiting for a car. I haven’t gotten much sleep the previous night, so to say I’m excited is an understatement.
A few minutes later, a white Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS materialises before me, shattering the silence with its air-cooled, loping idle. The red font on the doors, the ducktail, and the foglights all say the same thing: this car is anything but ordinary.
Having been a petrolhead for a number of years, I’ve developed a healthy appreciation for most things on wheels. My taste has changed with time, and these days, I find myself lusting after classic metal as opposed to the newest cars on the road. For a few years now, I’ve watched the growing fascination for air-cooled machines from Stuttgart. As the classic car market has highlighted on numerous occasions, air-cooled Porsches have quickly turned into unobtainium, except for the fortunate few.
My personal experience with Porsche is limited to a few short drives in water-cooled 911s, and a few minutes behind the wheel of a 991 and a Boxster. It was hardly sufficient, but enough to give me a taste. What was so great about a car that was simply missing its radiator?
Through a series of happy coincidences, I found myself in front of this Carrera RS.
As I climbed into the passenger seat, I was struck by how small it is, compared to modern cars. The ergonomics and simplicity of the interior were not lost on me, either. We started off and the raspy exhaust note of the aircooled 2.7-litre flat six engine made short work of my drowsiness. As we put the city behind us, I marvelled at the engine’s capacity to rev, almost ceaselessly. The lack of a radio was not noticed during our entire drive.
Soon, we touched speeds that would have put us behind bars faster that it takes you to dial 9-1-1. It remained stable, while simultaneously giving us a sensation of what was going on around us. We were in a small white car made in 1973, hurtling towards the horizon, with an exhaust note that told us to go even faster. We should have been terrified. Instead, we were elated.
As we completed our long circuit and turned back towards the city, I looked around the interior again. Everything one would need, nothing unnecessary. The large analog gauges gave the driver all the vital statistics in a glance. The shifter was the right length, as was the pedal placement. The large steering wheel simply tied together a very well thought out package.
As we reached the end of our trip, I thought about how enthusiasts lusted after these machines and how the air-cooled movement has become a global one. A number of people have said that the movement is a result of a marketing move by Porsche and that all this hype helps to sell more cars and they may be right.
However, as I looked at the car glinting in the Middle Eastern sun, after it had been thoroughly hosed down, the answer came to me. People may pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to own cars like this, or to become part of the ‘Luftgekuhlt’ movement. Some may store the cars, others may drive them, and a select few may race them. All I knew was that this little white radiator-less car had created a truly unforgettable experience for me.
That experience and the wide grin it left on my face was priceless—after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Special thanks to Assyl Yacine for driving the RS the way it was meant to be driven, and to the team at Tomini Classics for keeping the car in such good condition. You can follow Siddarth on Instagram @sidpandey1