Lights… Camera… Luftgekühlt! This year marked the 6th edition of the wildly popular, air-cooled Porsche-fest, with the scene being set May 11, 2019 on the backlot of the world-famous Universal Studios in North Hollywood, California. The annual gathering is the result of the vision and passion for air-cooled Porsches, by two-time Le Mans winner Patrick Long, noted creative director Howie Idelson and commercial film director, racer, photographer, cameraman and author, Jeff Zwart.
The Luftgekühlt was created as a down-to-earth car culture event centered on a closely curated list of interesting and historically significant street and race Porsches. Their basic ingredients for this recipe are simple and straightforward — look for interesting venues, involve great people, and keep the creative process open. By doing this, it allows them to come up with unique ideas that celebrate the passion they have for all things air-cooled and tailor the event to the Porsche community that isn’t necessarily interested in the champagne circles of the Concours world.
“Luftgekühlt”, a German word which translates to the term “air cooled”, represents all the air-cooled cars in Porsche’s history — from the Pre-A 356 through the 993 model line, which ended in 1998. Luftgekühlt was an unfamiliar nomenclature just a few years ago, but with the explosive popularity of vintage Porsches in recent years, it has now become a phenomenon in the Southern California outlaw and custom car culture and beyond. It places a special focus on custom, hot-rod Porsches, ‘Outlaws’ and generally modified cars, with some exceptions made for factory-built homologates and genuine race cars.
Recent “Lufts” have taken place at distinctive locations, such as a lumber yard in Torrance, CA, an artist colony in the Port of Los Angeles and a furniture manufacturer’s facility in Vernon, CA. Two inaugural European events took place in 2018 — the UK Luftgekühlt at the former RAF bomber base at Bicester Heritage, 60 miles outside Central London and the German Luftgekühlt that was held at the Werksviertel Mitte in Munich. But Luft 6 took on a more tinsel town feel, taking place on the backlot of a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, working movie studio.
As with previous Luftgekühlts, the focus of this year’s event was to curate an experience that merged together legendary movie sets that were used in movies like Dirty Harry, Back to the Future and the Magnificent 7, with the stories and history of these air-cooled sports cars. The cornerstone of the Luftgekühlt gatherings have been the photographic composition and backdrops of the venues they chose, and this year’s event was no exception.
The Universal Studios backlot provided some unique display and parking areas and was the perfect backdrop for the Porsches that attended. Most of the cars were exhibited in and around the backlot locations such as Courthouse Square, New York Street & Modern New York Street, Theater Facades, Wall Street, the streets of Western/Mexican town and the interior of Studio 747. The fifty foot tall backdrop mural of the infamous Universal movie monsters — Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Wolfman, added a visual splash to all the cars that were displayed in front of it. The selected “Luft” examples, were displayed in specially designated areas throughout the backlot and represented the diverse eras and genres of these sports cars.
Patrick Long and Jeff Zwart greeted owners as they drove into the backlot and helped direct them to their designated area. With over 350 Porsches on display and over 6,000 attendees in attendance, the sold out Luftgekühlt 2019 was well attended as those in previous years. In addition to Patrick and Jeff, other notable attendees also included Derek and Justin Bell; Chad McQueen; Hurley Haywood; Bruce Canepa; Jerry Seinfeld; Tommy Kendall and singer John Oates — owner of an Emory Outlaw Porsche.
Over these last six events, the Luftgekühlt has given those who have attended, a unique opportunity to see some rare, historic and significant air-cooled Porsches. Some of the more notable cars that attended the Luft 6 were the 1952 Porsche-Glöckler 356 roadster aluminum body; Adam Carolla’s 1979 Porsche 935 (ex- Paul Newman, 1979 Le Mans class winner); the Gulf-liveried 1969 Porsche 917K; 1967 Porsche 911 R S/N118 99 001R “World Record Monza”; 1978 Porsche 936-003; 1955 Porsche 356 Continental Coupe “barn find”; 1954 P-312 Coffee Train; Bisimoto Porsche 935X “Concept”; 1972 Porsche 917/10 Turbo; 1973 Porsche 917/30; 1969 Porsche 917/PA; and the 1984 Porsche 962 IMSA GTP.
Emory Automotive shared an assortment of their custom outlaw 356s, including Rod’s latest creation — the 1960 Porsche 356 B Emory Special. Singer Vehicle Design and Ruf Automobile were also well represented with examples of the cars displayed throughout the backlot. With so many air-cooled 356s, 911s, 914s, 917s, 930s and 935s that lined the faux streets, backdrops and sound stages of the Universal backlot, the fans who attended were certainly treated to some great cars to photograph and drool over.
As many of those who attended were wondering after the Luft 6, what do Patrick, Howie and Jeff have in store for Luft 7? I’m sure they will have a tough time trying to top this one, but I’ll bet that they’ll surprise us again next year.
Similar to 2016 and 2018, Sports Car Digest also documented the Luftgekühlt 2019 with Victor Varela offering the following pictures from the Universal Studios.
Luftgekühlt 2019 – Photo Gallery (photos: Victor Varela)
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