a friend told me that Luftgekühlt was coming to the UK for the very first time, and did I want to go, I wasn’t exactly sure what he was talking about! I subsequently found out that Luftgekühlt was German for ‘aircooled’ and he explained that it was a classic aircooled Porsche car show. Duh, he really should have led with that, that sounded like a fun day out, so plans were made for what should be a very special car show!
After a quick bit of research, I found out that Luftgekühlt was a Porsche ‘happening’, a curated collection of classic aircooled Porsche vehicles that normally exclusively takes place in the US. However, for the first time, it was crossing the pond and coming to the UK.
The origins of the show
In the Porsche vernacular, Luftgekühlt represents all the air-cooled cars in the manufacturer’s history, from the Pre-A 356 through the 993 model line, which ended in 1998. The Luftgekühlt brand is the brainchild of two-time Le Mans class winner Patrick Long and noted Southern California creative director Howie Idelson. A true Porsche happening, Luftgekühlt is an experiential car culture event centred around a tightly curated list of historically significant or interesting cars, both race and street.
As #LuftGB is the first overseas event, the idea was to keep the same informal, fun spirit of the early versions of Luftgekühlt, but to develop a new Luft story, with a new UK chapter. There is a wealth of incredible Porsche history in the UK, so plenty of great cars of the air-cooled era would be on display!
Driven not hidden
There’s no set formula for the events, but they normally take place in cool venues, have a great mix of people and great cars. What more could you want? Well, a sunny day would have been nice, and after several weeks of the glorious summer sun, this seemed to be on the cards for the event. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictability of the British weather, on the day of the event, it suddenly decided to change and rain! 🙁 Although a shame, it wasn’t going to dampen anyone’s spirits, and it was great to see so many people made the effort to bring their classics to the inaugural show.
Location, location, location
The venue for this event is the exceptional Bicester Heritage, a former WW2 RAF Bomber Training Station. As the only hub for historic motoring of its type and scale in the world, and with over 35 specialist motoring businesses onsite, Bicester has a lot of motoring heart. Its aesthetic, grit and heritage will frame the Luftgekühlt GB story in a perfectly British way. Like past shows, this first overseas foray will feature a blend of curated, invite-only rarities and ticketed enthusiasts’ cars.
As a first-timer to such an event, I thought the Luftgekühlt concept translated really well into this new setting. The backdrop of the Bicester Heritage buildings and grounds was the perfect foil to the iconic nature of the Porsche classics on display around the historic site.
There were so many great cars to see and admire as we walked around. Rain? What rain? Way too many automotive distractions to even notice the inclement weather! 🙂
Although the classic 911 in all its forms was the dominant car, there were other Porsches to see and admire also. Like this amazing Porsche 904 race car (apparently officially named a Porsche Carrera GTS due to a naming rights issue?), looking fast and awesome even when parked!
Not just speed
When you think Porsche, you normally think fast sports car. Well, think again! It’s apparently not all about speed. How about this 1950’s vintage Porsche tractor, so they weren’t just about the need for speed unless there was some form of tractor racing club back in the day?
Not all that glitters…
Due to the cost/value of most 911 Porsches, most cars were in fairly pristine condition. Not sure if this was because of their limited daily use, or if they had been restored etc. I personally love cars that are driven, so it was refreshing to see this driven, not hidden original paint 911 sitting on some very nice magnesium American racing wheels. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, as I appreciate that some prefer things a bit more shiny, but this was definitely my kind of Porsche 911!
Seeing the various cars on display was pretty education for a novice such as myself. Certain cars spiked my curiosity like this cool 911 T/R. Did you know the Porsche 911 T’s body shell was a hefty 52kg lighter than that of the sportier 911 S? That’s why Porsche plumped for the former as the basis of its new 911 T/R, the properly homologated evolution of the now-mythical 911 R. There were little interior trim and no creature comforts to speak of – the options list was instead filled with motorsport-oriented parts and accessories such as the potent 210bhp engine from the 906 Carrera 6 prototype, a 100-litre endurance fuel tank and gear ratios suited specifically to the Nürburgring. Basically, this was a pretty hardcore, stripped-back track car! 🙂
Not all the vehicles on display were outside. Some of the airfields cool architecture were opened up to create interior display areas. Like automotive art galleries if you will. Loved this space with its beautiful green enamelled tiles and 1920/1930’s style fenestration. The cars inside weren’t too shabby either! 🙂
Porsche by Singer Vehicle Design – restored, reimagined and reborn
I had heard a little about reimagined Porsche cars by Singer Vehicle Design but had never actually seen one in the metal so to speak. So I was really glad to finally see one up close and personal at Bicester. Their strapline is ‘restored, reimagined and reborn’ which is cool enough in itself, but the car itself was way beyond that! Not outlandish or in your face, but in many ways subtle and very, very refined. The attention to detail was quite amazing, a really beautiful piece of engineering design and execution. If it goes anywhere near as good as it looks, I’m sure it would be pretty sensational!
Not quite so subtle is this Porsche 904 in race car livery. Not built to be in the shadows, this was built for one purpose only, to tear it up and be fast! It’s sometimes good to have a singular vision and purpose.
But if style, simplicity and elegance are more your thing, then look no further than some of the stunning Porsche 356’s on display around the grounds. Beautiful!
All in all, it was a fantastic day out. Very different to the aircooled VW shows I’ve been to in the past. Very much a classic aircooled car show with a difference! Not least in as much as I wasn’t going to be camping out in my bus for the night afterwards, I miss that part, but everything else made up for that small detail! Not sure if another LuftGB event will happen again at some point again in the future, but this one was a great success and I was glad I got to see and experience it 🙂