Event Recap - Luft 8: The greatest aircooled Porsche show comes back home
The eighth edition of Luftgekühlt aka Luft 8 brought the Porsche community back together in the biggest event in the past three years.
Luftgekühlt, “aircooled” in the German language, is a gathering of Porsche cars that did not rely on a radiator and antifreeze to keep their engine cool. The list of eligible types is easily recognizable: 356, 911, 914, 964 and 993 (There’s a few more models that are fair game, mostly racecars). A couple hundred entrants from coast to coast were chosen from many submitted applications.
Luft is a lifestyle celebration, not a contest. Perfect paint is not a must-have. There are no judges, classes, points, or trophies. OK, there were some lawn chairs, and they saved my strength on more than one occasion.
A PCA concours this was not, but SoCal’s PCA diehards were part of the volunteer corps. Their job was to direct entrants to their proper parking areas. At the crack of dawn, an endless stream of enthusiasts lined the road for their turn to enter the show lot. Elsewhere, a massive queue of spectators wound its way around the block.
Catching the Last Era 993 and the Makina Driver's Club 911
Long-awaited homecomings make for the fondest receptions, and the wait had been long: Luft 6 happened THREE YEARS AGO in May of 2019. For 2020, it was already announced that Luft 7 would be taking the show to North Carolina. That never happened. The organizers eventually found an opportunity to hold it in 2021…in Indianapolis…on a Friday in September. While the Bottleworks District provided a picturesque backdrop, the conditions weren’t yet right for a heavy crowd to descend upon the event. Fast forward one year, with every state back to normal, and people were more than ready to give a large car gathering another shot.
Race Service 935x
When the announcement was made that Luft 8 was coming back to Los Angeles, it felt like the entire Porsche community eagerly made plans to be there. Within 24 hours of the first tickets being available, they sold out. No worries, though, as small batches of extra tickets were released right up to the week of the show.
It’s no secret that a Porsche-centric event like Luftgekühlt would spawn several other smaller events in the days leading up to the big event on Sunday. Friday morning began with the weekly Good Vibes Breakfast Club, held at Newcomb’s Ranch in the Angeles Forest. It’s a beautiful mountainous drive to get there, and one that demands respect and concentration from the driver. Friday night, on the opposite side of SoCal in Huntington Beach, was Gunther Werks’ open house. Hundreds of enthusiasts toured the factory, had some Schnitzel and maybe a pint of lager. Oktoberfest was in full swing, after all. The big event on Saturday morning was the cruise-in at the Petersen Automotive museum. For the diehard P-car driving enthusiast, there was the Professor Run, a 200-ish mile tour of SoCal’s finest twisty roads, all off the beaten path. Many started; only a handful had the fortitude to complete the marathon. Saturday night was capped off by the Kinesis Wheels party at Hoonigan headquarters. You might have even spotted Team Last Era on some of these events, as Eric and Chadd and others made the trip from Phoenix, AZ on Friday.
While everyone was busy taking in all the sights and sounds of the weekend. I was busy watching load-in at the venue. Yours truly was fortunate enough to obtain a media credential for the event, and being in the good graces of head organizers Pat Long and Jeff Zwart didn’t hurt, either. It was fun to watch priceless, historically significant racecars being lowered from trailers. Tempting as it was to broadcast everything on social media right then and there, that would’ve spoiled the surprise.
Luft 8 Load-in Day
Luft 8 did something the franchise hadn’t done before: revisit a previously-used venue. CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles was the site of Luft 4. It’s a pretty neat venue, comprising two big warehouses and plenty of paved areas suited to hosting a massive car show. One of the warehouses contains a microbrewery, Brouwerij West, ensuring showgoers had zero thirst problems. The second warehouse was split between permanent booths selling crafts, and a massive event space the organizers used as the museum portion of the event.
The biggest of the indoor halls housed an exhibit honoring 50 years since Porsche introduced the 911 2.7 RS. The combination of light weight, wide flared wheelarches, ducktail spoiler, CARRERA script on the flanks, and a joyful noise from the motor is still hard to beat half a century later. Taking center stage were three white cars, each adorned with either red, blue, or green accents and wheels. Let’s not forget that the 2.7 RS’ purpose was to be a homologation special. Indeed Porsche’s RS program was wildly successful, and none more so than this Brumos 2.8 RSR.
Its sister car is notorious for winning the 1973 Daytona 24 hours against prototypes. This example is equally notorious as the only car that won both the IMSA and Trans Am championship in the same year. Bruce Meyer, one of the founders of the Petersen Automotive Museum and serious race car collector, just recently became its newest custodian.
Here’s a few more noteworthy cars that were on display!
An extremely rare Porsche 916 prototype. These were essentially a hardtop version of the 914-6. Performance was uncomfortably close to that of a 911, so the project was shelved.
Porsche 914-6 GT, Class Winner at the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours
Porsche 718 RSK
Rod Emory and his latest 356 Outlaw build
Porsche 993 Supercup
Porsche 911 L Trans-Am
Ketchup or Mustard? A pair of Porsche 993 RS
Bruce Canepa’s latest restomod project: the Porsche 934.5
One question people asked in anticipation of Luft 8 was: “How do they one-up Luft 6?” Indeed, holding the event at such an awe-inspiring location as the Universal Studios backlot is a tough act to follow. But taking into account all the events of the past three years, it was absolutely appropriate for Pat, Howie, Jeff and company to go back to their roots and hold a COMMUNITY-centered event. I’ve long advocated that the cars themselves are secondary to the great relationships they build amongst friends, family, and the community at large. It took an occasion as magnetic as Luft to see friends I hadn’t connected with since before the pandemic. I’ve also connected with people that I, for years, had only interacted with on social media.
2023 is going to be a massive year for the Porsche brand: Penske debuts the new 963 racecar in IMSA GTP competition at Daytona in January; another shot at an overall Le Mans win awaits in June. Let’s not forget that ‘23 is also a Rennsport Reunion year. I can’t wait to see what surprises Luft 9 brings for Porsche diehards.