Time flies. Things change. Cars come and go. Classic cars remain classic. Luft grows. At least for now.
Luftgekühlt, the epic air-cooled Porsche show, has reached staggering proportions. This year’s installment was last weekend. From my perspective, it was way better than last year’s event, and I loved last year’s event. This was the fifth Luft. I have been to three of them. I have had cars in two of them. I am one of the lucky ones.
Luftgekühlt has risen from obscure roots to become THE air-cooled Porsche event of the year, every year. Porsche aficionados flock to it as if it were Mecca. This year was no exception, though I have to admit that the anticipation of the event and getting to the event may have been a tad more enjoyable than the event itself.
Pat Long and Howie Idelson, Luft’s founders, are freakin geniuses. Though if you asked them, I am not sure even they could have dreamed what would transpire since the first Luft at Deus Ex Machina in Venice four short years ago. I was at Luft 1. I thought it was epic then. I still do. Even Pam, who has
never been to Luft, thinks it was epic, but that had more to do with Patrick Dempsey being there than the 911s. But Luft 1 was a backyard party compared to the stadium show they held this year. Luft has tapped into
the mother lode of passion residing in air-cooled Porsche enthusiasts—enthusiasts that will put up with, or secretly get off on, the underground, industrial, forbidden fruit, cult-like kind of vibe its organizers have fostered since Luft 1. Don’t get me wrong. I am one of the enthusiasts who have caught the Luft bug, and I do not want to be cured.
Over time the number of cars at Luft has grown, but the cars have remained essentially the same. Initially, I went to see the cars. Now I go more for the chance to take pictures and see people. I see more than enough cars all year. Seeing one more car, even one I drool over, has become increasingly less interesting. Of course, I love to take pictures of them, especially in the locations in which Luft is held. Talking to the people who own them, learning why they have or have not modified them, listening to what they do with them has become way more interesting to me. Luft provides me with opportunities to shoot and talk—in spades.
This year the location was spectacular. The lumber yard was huge, encompassing 17 acres. Cars adorned the outside aisles, inside aisles, and open spaces. What was nice was that they were spread out and that, despite the throngs in attendance, it did not feel too crowded, unless you wanted a t-shirt or food. In those cases, the lines were as epic as the show.
My pilgrimage to Luft started Saturday afternoon, the day before the event. My Guards Red 89 911 Carrera Targa needed cleaning. After cleaning it, I put it back into the garage, which is located at the back of our lot. As I was leaving the house around 6 am Sunday morning, this meant that I would be moving a couple of cars out of the driveway, opening and closing the garage and backing the 911 all the way down to the street at the butt crack of dawn on a weekend morning. Not the best way to ingratiate myself with the rest of my family or my neighbors, but there was no way I was exposing my clean 911 to the elements the night before Luft.
My entry time to get my 89 parked started at 7:00 am. I planned to be early. I was not alone. The drive to the show, which was in Torrance and about 20 miles from where I live in West LA, was epic in its own right. My first inclination that the ride was about to get very interesting happened a few miles down the 405. I was cruising at a sedate 80 and minding my own business when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a 911 coming from behind at warp speed. It was going so quickly as it passed me that my 911 was buffeted from side to side. It went by so fast I could not tell if it was an Outlaw or a Singer. Either way, it was heavily modified. About two minutes later, the first of a large pack of 911s caught up with me. My sedate ride was over. I hopped on the back of the air-cooled train and drove with them the rest of the way to Torrance.
Getting everyone sorted and parked before the show started went pretty smoothly, though I did see at least one 911 stall and refuse to restart. It was pushed into the show lot. Frankly, the time time before the show started at 9 am was great. Cars were being staged, but the place was empty. It felt great. I really had nothing to do, so I got a coffee and just sat back and reveled in the spectacle that was being played out. Eventually I got motivated to buy a t-shirt, which I am wearing as I write this. Then I went over to the 000 table. I have been a Pete Stout fan since he was the editor of Panorama, the Porsche Club monthly magazine. A year or so ago he founded 000, a high end, high quality, coffee table magazine dedicated to all things Porsche. I had been flirting with subscribing to it for a while, and after taking to Pete, I decided to take the plunge.
A bit later, my friend Marc, who had come from Las Vegas to see the show, arrived. Marc is a Porsche guy and very well connected in the automotive community. We were friends in high school, lost touch and then got reconnected based on our common interest in Porsches. I spent the next several hours with Marc and his buddy, Kris. We looked at all the cars on display, of course paying particular attention to green cars, which were Kris’ favorites, and my 89, as it was my favorite. We saw some amazing cars, from Outlaw 356s to Singers, with all sorts of modified and stock 911s in between. I took a bunch of pictures, playing with my aperture setting to get some special effects of some very special cars.
Just before we were done, Marc met up with Pat Long, and Kris and I tagged along with them as we went in search of Rod Emory. After a brief conversation with with all, I said good bye and headed home. Getting my 89 out of the show lot was fun, as several people stopped to point at my personalized license plate.
As I drove home, I was already wondering where they will hold Luft 6. I will not complain if they go back to the same place.