With summer winding down, we can’t help but reflect on our favorite event of the year: Luftgekühlt 6. Of all the Porsche events that exist in the universe–or at least here on Earth–Luftgekühlt, the “air-cooled only” Porsche extravaganza is more or less without equal, eclipsed only by Porsche’s infamous Rennsport Reunion.
Luftgekühlt, the creation of Porsche factory race driver Patrick Long and Creative Director Howie Idelson, is held at a different venue each year. This year’s event, Luftgekühlt 6, saw a myriad of air-cooled wonder machines assembled on the backlot of Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA.
Early in the morning, photographer and director Jeff Zwart carefully guided over 350 cars into their final positions across several studio backlot areas that most visitors only catch a glimpse of as they wind their way through the property on the studio’s tram. At 8 am and 10 am, over 6,000 ticket holders disembarked shuttle busses and flooded the faux streets of iconic film sets to feast their eyes on Luftgekühlt’s air-cooled stars.
Auto History & Movie Memories
Around each backlot corner, we encountered a different piece of Porsche history and Hollywood movie memories. Courthouse Square, featured prominently in Back to the Future, served as a general gathering area for the attendees, complete with picnic tables, music and food and beverage booths.
The Wild West, made up of Western Street and Mexican Street, provided some of the backdrops for The Three Amigos, Dirty Harry, and several John Wayne films. This was the domain of both past and present rally cars, outlaws, and one-off customized machines that seemed perfectly at home, surrounded by cactus, wooden porches and faded hand-painted signs.
On Wall Street and New York Street, sat epic machines such as the Le Mans winning Jules Porsche 936 driven by Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell along with the record-setting 911R, used to smash several 24-hour records in 1967 at the Monza racetrack in Italy. Further down the street, appropriately sitting under the Western Theatre marquee, was the Gulf livery 917K famous for its victories at Le Mans in the early 1970s and featured in Steve McQueen’s Le Mans.
Off in a tunnel in London-Paris Square sat a dusty 1955 Pre-A 356 which had been in a shipping container since 1979; the car was displayed in as-found condition – a true “barn-find”. On the other side of the square was an unusually smooth orange tractor. Porsche manufactured tractors from the 1950s through the 1960s, many of which were seen at Rennsport Reunion VI however, this one was different. At first, we thought it had been customized, but we later learned it was a P-312 Coffee Train, 1 of 200 produced and only 20 left in existence. It was specifically built with smooth sides for use on coffee plantations in Brazil.
Queue the Cars
Sitting on a wood platform in the 914 corral sat the IMSA GT Championship winning Brumos Porsche 914/6 GT, one of only eleven built by Porsche and driven by Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood. It didn’t end there… there were rows of 911s, an assembly of 914s, a soundstage filled with 917s, a 930 turbo, a 1973 911 RS, and the last 550 Spyder built – the model, made famous by film legend James Dean.
Also in taking their places was Jerry Seinfeld’s 1976 934 Turbo RSR, recently restored by Canepa, the original Ruf 911 CTR “Yellow Bird” (I still remember reading about that car in Road & Track when I was a kid), and Paul Newman’s famous Hawaiian Tropic liveried 935, currently owned by Adam Corolla.
That’s A Wrap, Folks
Patrick Long, Jeff Zwart and the rest of the Luftgekühlt crew really outdid themselves this year and the crowds were a reflection of that. It will be interesting to see what they come up with for Luftgekühlt’s next incarnation. Regardless, this is the event to catch if air-cooled Porsches are your groove like it is ours.