Travel: Only the Air-cooled Need Apply

Only the Air-cooled Need Apply

By Benjamin Shahrabani
March 2, 2015
19 comments

Photography by Afshin Behnia

While organizing and promoting Luftgekühlt II, Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and enthusiast Howie Idelson insisted that that the event would happen “come rain or shine.” Fortunately, the ever-compliant Southern California weather cooperated just long enough for the event to be a success before the heavens opened and the rains drenched Culver City this past Sunday. And thank those heavens, too, because being at Luftgekühlt (German for “air-cooled” and pronounced “louft-guh-kewlt”) was like being a kid in a candy story–that is, if candy store is filled with Porsches.

The brainchild of Long and Idelson, this curated and invitation-only event is a gathering of both street and race cars from Zuffenhausen (all of them air-cooled, of course), from the Pre-A 356 through the 993. In contrast to last year’s inaugural event at Deus Ex Machina in nearby Venice, where 40 air-cooled Porsches somehow found a berth in the cramped premises, this year’s event took place at the expansive Los Angeles home of the Bandito Brothers, a media company and collective of fellow Petrolisti.

Most of the attending cars arrived with their owners behind the wheel, but a few rolled in aboard trailers. Regardless of how the cars came to be at the event, though, Luftgekühlt II did not lack for rare Porsches. Highlights included an uber-rare 964 3.8 RS; street and race-prepped 904s and 906s; a 1971 East African Safari 911; a 959, a 964 Carrera 4 RS Lightweight; the Petersen Automotive Museum’s early 356 Continental Cabriolet; and a Le Mans-winning Kremer 935 driven to the event by good friend of Petrolicious, Bruce Meyer. Also in attendance was a legion of pristine examples of Porsche’s finest, as well as more, shall we say, “weathered” specimens and “outlaw” types.

The event was also the place to share the air with such noted Porsche personalities as Jeff Zwart, Magnus Walker, Patrick Dempsey, Spike Feresten, Rod Emory, and many others, some of whom had their own cars on display. And while this assembly of eye-candy may have outgrown Deus Ex Machina’s facilities, that didn’t stop their team from being on site, enthusiastically offering refreshments, music, and keepsakes for attendees, who were also treated to a live demonstration of how the event poster was silkscreened.

This edition of Luftgekühlt was once again free for spectators, but we would have gladly paid the price of admission. Long and Idelson deserve a round of applause for organizing this undertaking, and Petrolicious is looking forward to see what they have up their sleeves for Luftgekühlt III.

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Alejandro Diaz
Alejandro Diaz(@el-zato)
5 years ago

Could I bring a 912?

Dennis White
Dennis White(@alfa66)
6 years ago

I’m not a Porsche person (Forza Alfa!) but current day cars sound like watery flatulence. My wife’s 87 Carrera sounds like a nasty little thing, I think the way a Porsche should sound.

eric
eric(@snap55)
6 years ago

ohhh i continue to learn….the 964 i quite like…last of the air cooled soid think based on comments BEST of the air cooled?

eric
eric(@snap55)
6 years ago

great responses. it has to be air cooled i think. im thinking about i when ill be back in cali. im partial to the smaller older ones…i like Pauls comment on his 66. im looking for weekend fun…doesnt need to be that comfy. with used miatas for 2k….ill get one when i land and thatll be me work driver?

I prefer manual steering as well….this is one reason the Exige was so awesome. I miss him every day!

eric
eric(@snap55)
6 years ago

there was a time in my life when you couldnt have given me a 911…..ive grown up and have learned to love purity in my performance cars. Ive had numerous 1st gen Miatas and a Lotus Exige…..i recon I owe it to myself to own an air cooled 911, but there are so many.

what do you all recon is the “best buy”….the last gen air cooled are my fave but a bit expensive for me i think!

Martin James
Martin James(@coloradokid)
6 years ago
Reply to  eric

Well … I’ll no doubt catch a pant load of grief for what I’m about to say … but its a good question deserving an informed and honest answer .. so I guess I’ll just have to deal with any potential aftermath and carry on .

First off … beyond any shadow of a doubt … the ‘ best buy ‘ 911 you can purchase is the newest one you can afford . The fact is .. despite the rapidly growing waistlines and ever more complication … each and every newer 911 is substantially better than the previous one . Perhaps lacking in ‘ cool ‘ factor and/or collectibility … but better never the less

Second … having said that … if your hearts set on an AirHead 911 …. the 964 is vastly under rated and well as in my opinion under valued as well . Not a 993 ? Well …. no it aint …. but then again I’ll bet you dollars to donuts if you can ignore the lack of 993 ‘ coolness ‘ [ 95\% of which is perception not fact ] … you’ll have at least as much if not more fun in a 964 as you ever will in a 993 … on the road at least

Alternatively ? A personal favorite …if you can find one . A 912 thats had its fragile 356 derived motor replaced with a nicely modified and well tuned VW flat four . Preferably a 1.8 or a 2.0 . The looks you’ll get when you blow by a similar year 911 [ as well as a few newer ones ] along with the money you’ll of saved buying a non – numbers matching ‘ Outlaw ‘ 912 alone is worth the price of entry . Even better ? Got mechanical skills and the tools /facilities ? Buy a motorless 912 … build up one sweetheart of a VW 2.0 flat four of your own… and have at it .

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
6 years ago
Reply to  eric

For once I almost agree with Martin that a the newer 911s (997 at least I’ve yet to drive a 991) are objectively way better than the old aircoolled cars, and if you are looking for one to daily drive definitely look for the newest one you can find (although not a 996 as they have lots of reliability issues). If you looking for a purely fun car for weekends the aircooled ones have always put a bigger smile on my face than the water cooled 911s.
The big spanner in the works is prices as you appear to be in the UK and 964 and 993 prices are currently through the roof especially if you want a 2wd manual coupe. Best buys at the moment is probably a 964 or earlier Targa. They don’t look as good as a coupe (although I weirdly like them) and not as stiff a structure but they are a little cheaper than the coupes to compensate.

Martin James
Martin James(@coloradokid)
6 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

…. or alternatively …. buy a 964 over here [ US ] and ship it back to the UK . Though 964 prices are somewhat on the rise they’re still pretty under valued here in the US . Hint ; California – Colorado – Nevada – New Mexico and Arizona cars are the best if you can find a good one . As for the Targa Mr Lange suggests ?

Oh … in some circles they’re lacking a bit of cool factor/credibility … but in my opinion if using it on public roads is your intent …. you can’t do much better than a Targa top 964 [ or any other Targa 911/912 ] So if the price tag is within reach … grab one !!! Guaranteed its the one 911 your lady’ll love at least as much as you will .. wink wink

Martin James
Martin James(@coloradokid)
6 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

Mr Lange – You’re correct in saying the 996’s had more than a fair amount of reliability issues . Fact is though … IF you can find a good one … the problems have long since been sorted out … making a very well maintained [ extensive service records done by factory and/or Porsche specialist shops only please ] 996 one hell of a damn good bargain

Jack Olsen
Jack Olsen(@jack-olsen)
6 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

Porsche relentlessly improves the 911. But that’s not the whole story. It also keeps making its flagship sports car bigger and heavier. Some of the impetus is performance. Some of it is what you need to do to sell cars to rich guys.

Not sure if I can post a video here, but you might think the new 991 GT3 would easily walk away from a 1972 911 with 200 fewer HP, less-sticky tires, a not-as-capable driver, and none of the technological breakthroughs the newest ‘race car for the street’ boasts.

http://youtu.be/kGAHwzz_RgA

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia(@afshinb)
6 years ago
Reply to  Jack Olsen

Jack,
I love this sticker on your car!

PaulGeudon
PaulGeudon(@paulgeudon)
6 years ago
Reply to  Jack Olsen

Jack is right. What do you want from a 911? A daily driver? Then get the newest you can afford. A fun car that will leave you exhilarated and excited? Then drive them all first. Maybe a 997 GT3 or a 66 SWB will suit you. For me it’s the latter. I’ve owned over 20 Porsches and now its my 66 that I’ll never sell – a sports purpose build that is absolutely brilliant to drive and own. Next car I add is the new GT4 (I’m not someone that [i]only[/i] gets excited by the classics) but none of these are daily drivers… I want a car that’s brilliant to drive. And Porsche provide that better than most – be that a 2014 or 1966.

Martin James
Martin James(@coloradokid)
6 years ago
Reply to  Jack Olsen

Actually Jack .. much of the impetus [ if not all of it ] behind Porsche’s ever increasing waistline on the 911 is all those damn safety nannies each and every government across the board keeps imposing on the auto manufactures . Trust me … left to their own devices Porsche engineers and in fact the entire company would gladly keep them smaller and lighter if they legally could .

Simple fact is … Porsche doesn’t need an increase in size in order to sell 911’s to the wealthy . The wealthy will always buy them regardless of the size .

As to the video ? Interesting ….. but errr … more than a bit staged and scripted I’m afraid . Suffice it to say in a genuine . heads up , no hold barred race that GT3 .. in fact any GT3’d lay waste to even the most tuned 72 911 on the planet .. even a full race prepared 72 911 …and you know it . Or at least you’d better . Which is to say … you can fool some of the people some of the time … but … ahhh .. well …. you know the rest … wink wink

Jack Olsen
Jack Olsen(@jack-olsen)
6 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

I’m not sure how to reply to Martin James’ post down below — and I apologize for the detour here. But Mr. James, we’ve all heard the apology that Porsche has no choice but to make their cars enormous because of safety regulations. I don’t see exactly how it is that international outfites like Alfa-Romeo and Lotus are able to make small, lightweight cars that pass all those same safety regulations. I can walk into an alfa dealer today and drive out in a 2,400 pound composite-body sports car.

And I’m not sure what you think is being faked with the video. That’s Porsche choosing one of their factory-supported pro drivers to set a record at the oldest road course in North America. Pobst is the same driver they chose to set the overall production car record there (with the 918) and also a record lap in the 50th Anniversary 911. The lap was overseen my Motor Trend magazine. If they’ve got better laps to show, I’m not really clear on why they would keep that a secret.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay(@christophergay)
6 years ago
Reply to  Jack Olsen

Thanks for sharing some fun stuff, and nice driving.

Keeping on point with your HP and weight comparison, our team turned a 120.385 on that track back in ’95 in a car that never saw more than 160 or so on the dyno . 😉

Maybe you and Randy could swap rides for a session, just for sh\%ts and giggles. 😮 Good times.

Jeff White
Jeff White(@jawindustries)
6 years ago

This really was an awesome event. Great examples of air-cooled vehicles and some great people. If anyone is interested in seeing more pictures from it, I have posted some up also. [url=”http://jaws1303.tumblr.com/post/112543162541/luftgekuhlt”]Luftgekuhlt Pics[/url]

Jack Olsen
Jack Olsen(@jack-olsen)
6 years ago

What a great event! Several pro drivers milling around, as well as some very rare cars. In the Porsche world, this is probably second only to the upcoming Rennsport Reunion in terms of scope — and this show was exclusively air-cooled cars. It’s always amazing what Southern California is able to bring out on a Sunday morning.