No matter how powerful the cars, how potent their performance, how clean (or radical) their appearance — how cool they are, to us gearheads — there are few areas of automotive enthusiasm that gain mainstream appeal. But what started off as a small gathering of LA-area vintage Porsche owners, held in the tiny parking lot of a custom bike shop (Luftgekuhlt I was held at Deus in Venice Beach), has grown exponentially and penetrated the "who's who" of automotive celebrity - and looks poised to thrust the burgeoning chic Porsche culture into the mainstream.
Now in its third year and at the much bigger Modernica campus (manufacturers of modern furniture), Luftgekuhlt is one part Cars and Coffee, one part weekend meet, and 100-percent Porsche, open by invite to qualified pre-A 356 through 993 model-line cars. It's doubled in size since its inception, and this year's attending machines represented nearly every model of air-cooled (translated into German: "Luftgekuhlt") Porsche imaginable, with rows on rows of various numerically-identified crowd favorites, including well over 100 911s in every shape and stage of restoration/modification imaginable.
Stand-outs include Jerry Seinfeld's 904 Carerra GTS and Jeff Zwart's '48 356 Gmund coupe centerpiece, Wayne Dempsey's '58 Speedster, a Flash Gordon-esque '60 356B Carrera GTL Abarth owned by Jack Croul, Bruce Canepa's 959 and homologated 934 from the Matsuda collection, and the Gunnar Racing-built, pink (fuschia? magenta?) '75 911 Carrera of one Tim Pappas. And of course there were the RWB party crashers of Hoonigan frontman Brian Scotto and others, which everyone seems either to love ... or secretly love.
Scattered among those exhibiting their scarce and pricey Porsches, showgoers in the know could spot some big names of the automotive world: racing drivers Danny Sullivan (CART, IndyCar, etc.), Patrick Dempsey (TUDOR, Grand-Am, APO, etc.) and John Morton (too many to list); Petersen Automotive Museum founding partner Bruce Meyer; and screenwriter/comedian Spike Feresten, to name just a handful. Not surprising, since Luftgekuhlt is the creation of two-time Le Mans class winner Patrick Long and LA-based creative director Howie Idelson.
As the prices of vintage Porsches continues to rise and their availability fall, look for these icons of automotive performance and design to continue reaching higher and higher on the social echelon and garner an evermore influential and exclusive following. In short, if you want to see a bunch of awesome cars and chat with some automotive and mainstream celebs, join us at next year's Luftgekuhlt IV.