One of the most interesting effects of the automotive culture is the passionate presence of tribes. Tribes in the “car sense” are really bands of truly “die hard” enthusiasts for a certain marque, origin or even time period. The tribes embody vastly different cultures as well as group behavior, and nowhere is this more passionately expressed than in motorcycle culture. But automotive tribes have dramatically become very expressive over the last few decades, from Japan’s Bosozoku style to cowboy Americana.
One of the tribes I am heavily immersed in is the classic aircooled Porsche family and I have met many of my best friends and buddies in this tribe. The depth of passion as well as the incredible lengths that natives of every tribe will go to learn truth as well as to meet their “gods” has always been a story in itself. Let me turn the spotlight on one of the organizers of The 2nd Gathering of the Porsche Classics, Winston Chua, as he takes a deep dive into aircooled Porsche nirvana. Enjoy his retelling of the experience and marvel at his pictures.
Winston Chua, Porsche Fanatic and Luftgekühlt Pilgrim:
“I think we are in the wrong place,” my Uber driver muttered.
My Uber driver uttered a few times, as we drove further into Torrance’s (California) industrial area. I assured him I had the correct address and urged him to just follow the Uber map. Finally, we reached the gates of Ganahl Lumber. Yes, the 5th installment of Luftgekühlt (April 22, 2018) was staged at a 16.5 hectare lumber yard.
If you’ve been following Luft in the past years, this comes to no surprise because the venues the organizers choose are always unique. Luftgekühlt (air-cooled in German) is the largest gathering of “air-cooled” Porsches (Pre-A 356 to 993) in North America and is the brainchild of Le Mans winner-Porsche works driver, Patrick Long and his designer buddy, Howie Idelson.
I was inducted into the air-cooled cult a few years ago and have always wanted to attend Luft. I made sure I maximized my time at Luft, so I arrived early, before the gates opened. Once I got in, I was distraught seeing so many cars all over the place, just casually parked beside stacks of lumber. The beautiful cars set in an industrial background was a pretty sight indeed! I decided to see the warehouses first, as this is where most of the important cars were displayed.
Upon seeing the Porsche race cars inside, I was reminded of my Porsche Trump Cards set when I was a child. The rare historic race cars like the 904/6, 908, 917/10, 911 SCRS etc. were just sitting there in front of me! Of course, special road (and off-road) going models like the 356 speedster, 2.7RS, 964 Lightweight, 911 Safari and the Singer “Mulholland” were also on display. I made sure I scoured the warehouses well before heading out to the open yard for more cars.
The cars in the open yard were mostly owned by everyday enthusiasts and not big-time collectors or museums. The car owners just chill around their cars and chat with folks interested with their pride and joy. I think the most important car in the open yard would be the 1951 356 SL “Gmünd” coupe- the very first Porsche to win Le Mans. It’s the car that marked the German marque’s victory dominance in that race series.
I was too busy ogling at the cars that I missed some important Porsche personalities like Le Mans winner Patrick Long and outlaw builder Rod Emory but I’m glad I caught up with the most important one: Hurley Haywood. Haywood won the 24 hours at Daytona five times, the 24 hours of Le Mans three times and 12 hours of Sebring two times, making him the winningest endurance driver of all time. He autographed my book and we had a short chat about the air-cooled scene in PH. Very nice gentleman.
I wouldn’t really call Luftgekühlt a car show. It’s a “gathering” in the true sense of the word. It’s casual. No cordons between the cars and the spectators. No info sheets on the cars. It’s just one big parking lot for air-cooled disciples to appreciate the cars and exchange stories. After all, it’s the stories behind the cars that give them more value.
Over all, this well-organized event was a very enjoyable experience for me. It fueled my passion for air-cooled Porsches even further. Definitely looking forward to Luft 6!