After only 4 shows, Luftgekühlt is already a must-attend

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Waiting out a morning shower at Luftgekühlt IV

It was merely intended as an intimate morning get-together. Just a few Los Angeles-area friends who shared a love of old air-cooled Porsches—a gathering that would not require a blazer-and-straw-hat dress code. That was Le Mans winner Patrick Long and indie artist Howie Idelson’s idea when they hosted their first event.

What transpired was Luftgekühlt—German for “air-cooled”—born in 2014 and first hosted at Deus Ex Machina in Venice, Calif. The turnout for the inaugural event—numbering in the hundreds—immediately overran Deus’s capacity. Long and Idelson had clearly underestimated the immediate impact their event would have on the car world.

Enthusiasts across the United States, hearing tales of this unique event out west, were quickly pestering the two men, wondering when the next Luftgekühlt would occur.

“At the time, we weren’t even certain there were that many air-cooled Porsche owners who’d be willing to get together on any given morning,” recalled Long in the days leading up to Luftgekühlt IV, held yesterday in San Pedro, Calif., the gritty harbor district at Los Angeles’s southernmost tip.

Attendees began arriving as the sun rose and early morning showers battled to a draw, resulting in a rainbow over the hills of Palos Verdes to the west—a rainbow that ended in a pot of air-cooled gold and tangerine, Signal Red and Bahama Yellow, and racing liveries aplenty. Porsches by the hundreds came rumbling over the Vincent Thomas Bridge from Long Beach to the east and down the 110 freeway from Downtown LA to the north, all converging among the last warehouses remaining from the pre-container days of LA Harbor.

By the time the event was in full swing, thousands of enthusiasts mingled inside the Crafted warehouse, wandering among a Gulf-livered, John Wyer Porsche 917, a Penske 917/30 Can Am car, a 904 GTS, and a pair of Rothsport Racing 911s campaigned only days prior by director Jeff Zwart in the Mexican 1000 race—to name but a few of the notable bits of eyecandy. Parked in the space outside, and in every parking lot for blocks around, were more air-cooled Porsches of every shape, size, generation, and condition.

Even Long and Idelson, whose friendship dates to their youthful days racing on local Southern California karting circuits, seem genuinely surprised by their event’s success. Long now jokes that, whatever his nominal role as co-founder, he is mostly just along for the ride now, taking orders from a movement that has developed a life its own.

“Luft is kind of doing its own thing now,” he says. “We’re just trying to keep up with it”

Despite “just keeping up” with Luftgekühlt, Long and Idelson have carved out a spot on the annual Porsche calendar that might soon rival Rennsport in its importance—if it doesn’t already. The event is accessible (attracting all manner of homebuilt creations), aspirational (did you see what Bruce Canepa, Bruce Meyer, and the folks from Singer Vehicle Design brought?), and influential, with builder Rod Emory debuting his first all-wheel-drive 356 build at this year’s event.

Despite Long’s modesty, none of this is an accident. Trying to put Luftgekühlt’s appeal into words, Long keeps coming back to two core goals: first, to educate and include attendees who might not fit the “nerd notion of air-cooled,” and second, to bring die-hard Porsche fanatics to a space and location that allows them to see their beloved air-cooled machines in a new context.

The result: An event that began as a morning coffee stop has evolved into a date noted on calendars. It’s an affair around which attendees plan an entire weekend, especially if they’re driving their Porsches across the country (as folks now do), or flying in from Asia or Europe (as folks now do, too).

Long and Idelson claimed not to have any grand long-term vision for Luftgekühlt when they held the first event. What, then, keeps them returning year after year, even as the event demands more and more from them each year?

“If the legends of the sport—the people who’ve been in this for forty-plus years—are asking when and where the next Luftgekühlt is going to be, and if our significant others and friends who aren’t otherwise huge Porsche fans want to know,” says Long, “then the decision is easy.”

Long and Idelson better get busy planning Luftgekühlt V.

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Luftgekühlt: Celebrating air-cooled Porsches

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Porsche 911 austincabot

Pebble Beach. Amelia Island. Goodwood. Rennsport.

For automotive enthusiasts, these time-honored events are required pilgrimages. Having earned their pride of place after decades of success, they are the car world’s preeminent events.

In this context, Luftgekühlt is all the more remarkable. In just its third year of existence, this celebration of air-cooled Porsches – from the Pre-A 356 through the 1998 993 – has quickly joined the automotive calendar’s top tier and draws an ever-increasing number of enthusiasts from around the world to a new Los Angeles location every year.

The brainchild of two-time Le Mans winner (and factory Porsche racer) Patrick Long and designer Howie Idelson, Luftgekühlt began as an intimate gathering for Porsche cognoscenti in Venice, Ca., in 2014. Sunday’s event drew hundreds of cars and thousands of people, including such noted Porsche fans as Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Patrick Dempsey and Magnus Walker. The cars on display, meanwhile, included everything from a 1949 Gmünd coupe to a 3.8 RSR and a Targa Florio-winning 906.

Additionally, a “Safari” 911, featuring the Rod Emory, Joey Seely and Jeff Zwart’s craftsmanship was auctioned. Its sale benefitted pancreatic cancer research through the Autumn Leaves project. When the RM Sotheby’s gavel ultimately struck, the car had sold for $275,000.

Rather than relying on a single photographer – or even a small team of shooters – we’re bringing you some of our favorite event photos from Instagram. Believe us, though, these shots are barely scratching the surface, so if you’d like more, have a look here.

If you’d like to learn more about the Safari 911, click here.

Below are some of our favorite pictures from the event, and 9 Instagram accounts to follow.

Porsche 911 austincabot
(Source: Austin Cabot)

Porsche 911 brianscotto
(Source: Brian Scotto)

Porsche 911 curb77
(Source: CURB)

Porsche 911 eanousa
(Source: Ian Wood)

Porsche Gmund modernica
(Source: Modernica)

356s Enter pannhorstclassics
(Source: Pannhorst Classics)

Porsche 911 speedmilk
(Source: Speedmilk)

the Scene super_aghakhani
(Source: SUPER_AGHAKHANI)

taste the rainbow yokojp405
(Source: Yoko Kobayashi Nakumura)

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