Luftgekühlt 8: Air-cooled Porsche revelry meets California clout

Brandan Gillogly

Luftgekühlt 8 has come and gone, proving once more that there’s no other automotive event quite like Luft. This air-cooled sports car gathering is, according to Porsche fans perhaps, the finest automotive event in the United States. (Don’t shoot the messenger.) Of course, the image of a bunch of pretentious hipsters gallivanting around with Porsches in the shadow of palm trees doesn’t necessarily scream “big tent.” But if you parse this “cool” with some context, Luft is a fascinating conflux of influencers, engineering, design, hype, personalities, and setting.

Yes, this event is so L.A. Which is to say it has a particular look that everyone there is keen to show off, on social media as much as in person. More than once, I heard this year’s event described as Car Coachella, even “Luftchella.” While I’m loathe to admit it, the monikers are fitting. Even in its earlier years, Luftgekült—”air-cooled” in German—has always dripped California chic like a leaky flat-six, and with each annual iteration growing bigger and bigger, it’s a reality that the clout starts mattering to some as much as the cars.

Brandan Gillogly

Exclusivity is one of the biggest driving factors at Luftgekühlt. The $50 tickets invariably sell out within a few days of availability. In the weeks leading up to the event, social media bristles with desperate pleas for access. Many folks want to go specifically to be seen. They want it known that they are clued in to a certain not-so-secret secret handshake. They dress up in their most chic casuals, arriving in colorful cars aesthetically tailored to fit in with the cult of Luftgekühlt.

Some of you are retching, I know. But you’d probably like attending this event more than you’d think. The demographics of Luft are fascinating; for every peacocking influencer there’s a wizened track rat who rolled up in their competition-ready 1968 912, or a kid starstruck by the rows of frog-faced, air-cooled Porsches. There’s race car drivers, ultra-collectors, oil-stained DIYers, and genuine enthusiasts, all mingling and laughing in the same place.

Amid all of this, a car show breaks out. More of a carefully curated pop-up museum, really  Each year’s location is new, so there is an an exciting mystery leading up to the big day, too. Luft previously held festivities at a lumber yard, a designer motorcycle shop, a modernist furniture warehouse, and Universal Studio’s backlot. This year was a surprise repeat, with south L.A.’s Brouwerij West brewery playing host again after last being honored for Luft 4 back in 2017.

Brandan Gillogly

Located right off the Port of L.A. in San Pedro, Brouwerij West occupies a series of warehouses formerly used as wartime ship-building workshops. It’s undergone adaptive reuse to serve as event space, brewery, and semi-permanent craft market. Boy, does Viper Green and Signal Yellow pop against concrete, brick, and asphalt.

It can be tough to absorb Luftgekühlt the way you would a traditional concours or car show, and that’s part of the appeal. Vehicles are presented without context or placards, and owners are usually off checking out the other cars. This year’s soft theme of the main area seemed to be a celebration of the older Porsche RS cars, as evidenced by a spectacular display of three white 1973 Carrera RS 2.7s on a large stand filled with crushed gravel.

Brandan Gillogly

In the same space, a red 904 faced off against a red 906, both seldom seen in such carmine colors. A road-driven 910 and a 908 (I think it was a 908, please don’t skin me if I’m wrong) sat on dueling pallets, while a metallic white 959 magnetized crowds in a small, sculptural pop-up alcove.

Most of our favorite cars were outside, however. A highly restored 934.5 sat on a wooden pallet with an open frame, appearing a bit like a full-size diecast model car. It looked incredibly intimidating with large black Momo monoblock wheels and swollen bodywork that would be a star in a retrospective exhibition of brutalist design.

In the background, a trio of white-on-white special 964s blinded passersby, starting with a Carrera Cup, then a Speedster, and finally what appeared to be a 964 RS. Two more very, very different white cars grabbed our attention; the Rinspeed 969 was an outrageously modified 930 getting in the spirit of Halloween by wearing a Testarossa costume. And, Eli Kogan’s white ex-Vasek Polak ramptruck carried a gorgeous 911L for one of the most distinctive displays of the show.

Brandan Gillogly

Colors are a big part of the Porsche mystique, and the showfield was a veritable kaleidoscope of hue and saturation. Aside from the usual technicolor rows of Rubystone, Speed Yellow, Irish Green, Mexico Blue, and Signal Orange, off-beat colors like the liquid gold on a color-matched 993 shimmered. Inside the brewery, a silver pairing of a 904 and a 356 Zagato complemented mirrored stainless steel brewing equipment.

There was way, way too much to highlight here, so you’re just going to have to hop in the mega-gallery to check out what you missed. We’ll see you next year.

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    I’ll always love the 914.
    As this event was for “air-cooled” only, there were no 928’s. Too bad.

    BTW, what’s happened to the Comments?
    They’re either not showing up, or no-one’s leaving any.
    The ones that do appear have no “Likes” or any other feedback.
    What gives?

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