August 29, 2018
Luftgekühlt has become more than just a word over the last 5 years or so. Translated from the German as ‘air-cooled’ the trademark is now, in the right circles, as synonymous with air-cooled Porsches as the name Porsche itself.
The classic car ‘scene’ (I hate that word but stick with me) can be a stuffy place. Having owned classics all my driving days and owned classic Porsche for most of those I’ve experienced the best and the worst of attitudes when it comes to mixing it up at an event. It will be no surprise that I, like most people who bought cars 20 years ago, and are fortunate enough to still have them, have witnessed this scene evolve around them and indeed the value of cars rise beyond all expectations. Of course the rise in value is very welcome if you got on the ownership train early enough but the change in attitudes is also refreshing. I think a lot of it is to do with generational control. The events I went to in my little outlaw 15 years ago were a completely different beast to what you would have witnessed at the recent Luft GB event. They were run by people of my Dad’s generation (sorry Dad) with a traditional approach to how the event was staged and the expectations of what was on display. Anyone who knows me and my 356 knows it’s how I like it, I’m not going to change it, I might paint it at some point but it’s not a priority and what’s it to you anyway?. It’s been called scruffy, unfinished, a shame, a rolling resto, and ‘strange’ by one chap. It’s hardly a rat looker! I get embarrassed when people praise it, but quietly like it as I’ve have had years of people my Dad’s age disapproving of it for it’s shabby chic looks, the ‘wrong’ wheels and it’s alternative power plant . So what’s changed? The generation in control are finally my peers. We’ve grown up together in the digital age, we’ve riden along with Facebook, Instagram and other sources of inspiration from across the globe and attitudes have changed with it. Back in the dialup days I used to check daily if there were updates on the Parts Obsolete gallery page or the Pelican Parts site in my lunch break for my outlaw fix, but times have changed and now there’s almost too much to keep up with. With the likes of Emory Motorsports and Magnus Walker breaking social media cover and gaining huge followings across the globe, the customisation of Porsche cars, the pushing of envelopes with regards to taste, style and performance as a break from the standard mould to create an ‘Outlaw’ as such is suddenly widely accepted. Along with this, any stereotype that goes with owning a Porsche diluted.
So with this change in attitude to cars and their owners it’s only natural for the events to follow suit, to change flat cap for snapback. Don’t get me wrong. There will always be a place for tradition but having seen what the Luftgekülht team had pulled off in their Californian home the excitement that this particular circus was coming to town was greater than any other event I can remember.
The location of choice was Bicester Heritage in Oxfordshire, previously RAF Bicester, home originally to the Royal Flying Corps and then the RAF as a Bomber Station during WWII. The site, derelict for a number of years has seen a resurgence of activity of late where it has been reopened as Bicester Heritage with freshly restored hangers, workshops and offices housing a select number of automotive companies from restoration specialists, classic car sales and media companies. It was Sports Purpose, a Porsche and classic car sales company who were responsible for planting the seed with the organisers which would ultimately bring Luftgekülht to their base in the UK and it was just perfect.
I’ll not labour on a couple of points of disappointment. Just a brief mention…. My car didn’t make it. We left at 7AM and by 10 we were swapping cars having limped it home, gutted. It also rained, after weeks of shorts and suncream for just one day it poured. Welcome the the UK.
5 hours after we originally set off we finally made it. A few cars had already left but the rain had eased and we were set to explore in the remaining few hours we had. The whole Luftgekülht effect becomes apparent when you start to wander round taking it all in. It’s like being on a treasure hunt without a map. Round very corner, behind every building there was a new exhibit. Not just a parked car, more than that. I’d read about the curated aspect of Luftgekülht in California before but it’s only when you are there, or even when you look through your shots when you get home that the careful thought to positioning the cars becomes clear. Purposefully grouped together or in plenty of isolation against distressed, colour matched or contrasting backdrops. The beauty of not having rows of cars to traipse through, or cluttered backgrounds made it a treat to photograph. The classic elegant design of cars we all know so well placed in front of slabs of patinated history. All credit to the organisers too as the calibre of exhibits was superb. Some of the finest RS models I’ve seen in one place, racing legends and rarities, including two 911 TR’s, a 993 RS Clubsport, the Jägermeister 934, 964 RUF and RS’s, 904’s, two 550 Spyders, the Paul Stephens Le Mans Classic Clubsport, a Brumos Racing RSR, a 356 Carrera, Singers and the Singer DLS test mule reving close to its 9000 peak RPM entertaining the crowd (check out my instagram story for this!), the incredible list goes on. With visitor’s air-cooled cars parked up amongst these legends the atmosphere was incredible. Decent coffee, tunes, food, cool merchandise including a selection of Luftgekülht ales. People conversing, all on a level, my peers, my generation. Not stuffy at all.