Luftgekühlt 5 (Luft 5) is a one-day event at Ganahl Lumber Company in Torrance, CA and the title pretty much sums up the day: Air-Cooled Overload.
As a first timer to Luft, I went solo to experience the popular Southern California air-cooled car show. The trip started with a flight from NYC to AZ, followed by a drive across the desert to Los Angeles. Some people cringe at the thought of an eight-hour drive but I don’t mind road trips as long as the destination, or in this case, the event is something new or exciting and the weather’s good.
Luftgekühlt (German for air-cooled) is not your average car show, it’s a celebration of the history of air-cooled Porsche’s – if the engine is water-cooled, it’s not in the show. If you’re a Porsche fan and stumbled upon this page, you’re probably already familiar with the translation and the car show. If not, in short, Luftgekühlt was created in 2014 by Howie Idelson and race car driver Patrick Long as a way to meet and bring air-cooled Porsche owners, friends, and fans together. The first event, Luftgekühlt 1, was held at a small café parking lot with approximately 40 cars. The show has grown each year, outgrowing the average parking lot; therefore, the venue for Luft has changed annually with each one being very different from the previous.
This is Luftgekühlt 5. In a lumber yard. And I’m going alone.
I grew up in Southern California’s South Bay so I’m familiar with the area and L.A. traffic so when I heard tickets for Luftgekühlt 5 sold out, I made sure to give myself a little extra time in the morning for parking and to avoid long lines. Getting there was quick and the large off-site parking lot wasn’t overly crowded (yet) but lines for the shuttle bus to the event were longer than expected. While I waited, my excitement grew as a caravan of new and vintage Porsches pulled into the parking lot. The wait was finally over and I hopped on a shuttle. As the shuttle pulled up to the venue I immediately noticed the large red and white retro style Ganahl letters and the modern glass facade of the main building. What a cool looking place.
Ganahl Lumber Company is the oldest lumber company in California dating back to the late 1800’s and the Torrance location is a brand new facility which provided a simple architectural backdrop with the smell of wood to showcase these amazing Porsches. How does a lumber yard fit into this? During WWII, Porsche moved out of Stüttgart, Germany and settled into a sawmill near Gmünd, Austria then later moved back to Germany. So it seems Ganahl is a fitting venue after all.
Larger Than Expected
Upon entering, there were rows of tall, wide aisles of neatly stacked lumber and construction supplies with Porsche’s parked throughout the central area and warehouse and I thought, this isn’t so bad, so I proceeded to follow the outer perimeter while taking my time to view the cars.
When I reached the end of the row, which opened up to a very large outdoor space, my jaw hit the floor – lo and behold, the lumber yard. It was massive – 16 acres to be exact! There were at least a thousand or more people out there and hundreds of cars – how am I supposed to see everything before they close? I needed a game plan, stat!
First things first: apply sunscreen to my pale east coast skin. Second: stay focused, breeze through the yard in two hours, snap some photos, eat lunch and finish the day back in the warehouse. No problem – so I thought.
The yard and wide aisles were neatly arranged with a variety of 356’s, 912’s, 914’s and 911 models from daily drivers, barnfinds, restored and unrestored cars, modified cars, rally cars, outlaws and turbos. There was so much to see, and as I began walking through the yard I found myself quickly drifting into an air-cooled trance.
Two words: sensory overload. What I thought could be accomplish in two hours didn’t go as planned: I lost track of time, forgot to reapply sunscreen, skipped lunch and still had the central area and warehouse to wrap up the day. I was running out of time and rushed through a few more cars in the yard and sadly, skipped many.
But before heading back to the warehouse, I made sure to stop by the 1951 356 SL Gmünd Coupe, No. 46 – the first Porsche to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car was fully restored by Emory Motorsports and displayed on a flatbed truck. Apparently, the top was chopped off shortly after it’s European racing days so the restoration team built a new aluminum roof by hand using a wood frame as the mold. What a fantastic restoration.
Central Rows and More Cars
Whew! Finally out of the yard. The Luftgekühlt crowds were thinning out and some of the cars were already starting to leave. I quickly went through the central rows and spotted several cars that caught my eye but I was short on time and my phone battery was dangerously low so I had to be selective when picking cars to photograph.
I made sure to get back to the super rare black Schuppan 962, which I couldn’t get near earlier in the day due to the crowds. This is definitely a wild and sleek looking “zero-mile” car from the early 90’s.
Nearby was one of my favorite cars – the rare (1 of 4) and powerful yellow ’67 911R prototype restored by Canepa Motorsports. Stunning car! It’s at the top of the Porsche wish list – one can dream, right? The LuftAuto 002 rally car, which I saw earlier in the day, was another car I had to see again; it brought back memories of off-roading in the 90’s – sadly, not in a Porsche. And just around the corner were a couple of iconic 934, 934/5, 935 and 964’s racecars in colorful liveries.
Prototypes, Racecars and Lumber Platforms
On the other side of the warehouse were additional race cars and special models displayed on lumber platforms. Elevated above the rest in their respective rows was French Grand Prix winning Formula One Type 804 driven by the legendary Dan Gurny, a beautiful 550 Spyder in blue and one of only five remaining 908k ‘Short Tail’s’ which is going to the Sotheby’s auction in Monterey later this year.
In between the race cars was a sleek 904 Carrera GTS that looked like a silver bullet and the L&M 917/10 spyder where I spotted Jeff Zwart: photographer, race car driver, director – the list goes on. Should I say hello? Just as things were wrapping up and cars were moving out, I took a chance and ran up to Jeff to say hi – he’s such a nice guy.
And last but not least, perched on a lumber platform in the shadows of the warehouse was Jerry Seinfeld’s 1949 hand built, all aluminum Gmünd. This is one of only thirty remaining survivors from the Gmünd factory, making it a very rare Porsche and albeit a fun one to drive.
Totally worth it
It was a long day. My nostrils were filled with the scent of wood, I was sunburned, hungry and drunk on air-cooled Porsches and it was totally worth it! Next time I’ll be better prepared by wearing longer sleeves, a hat and packing snacks.
With so many air-cooled Porsche’s on display pulled out of private collections: from daily drivers to rare models, and iconic race cars; Luftgekühlt is a car show that’s not to be missed. There’s something for every car lover and Porsche fan to see at this one-day event.
Looking forward to the next event and venue.