If you love going to classic Porsche events and have never attended Luftgekühlt, don't go. Really, I mean it; Luftgekühlt will ruin all other vintage Porsche events for you.
At first glance, one might think that my description of Luftgekühlt, the nation's most insane air-cooled Porsche event, is a negative one, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Luftgekühlt is nuts. When you compare the sheer level of carefully curated vintage Porsche builds in attendance at a Luft event to other classic Porsche gatherings—there's just no way another air-cooled Porsche event can even come close.
This was my very first time attending a Luftgekühlt event, so I didn't know what to expect. I mean, I knew there would be a lot of people there, but Luft was more packed than a Costco check-out line before Super Bowl Sunday. Even though I was granted "Early Media Access" which started two hours before the official show start time, there were already thousands of people in line to get in when I arrived at the gate; this was more than two hours before the show's advertised start time. Seriously, it was crazy.
While the excitement and hype around Luft was pretty challenging for credentialed media trying to get clean shots of the cars, it just goes to show that when you create an amazing event with the quality and reputation that the Luftgekühlt founders have built, people will literally knock down the gates so they won't miss the action.
Another thing that really made Luftgekühlt 6 stand out from other Porsche events was the venue chosen. Somehow, the event organizers were able to hold the event on the historic Universal Pictures Back Lot, which is adjacent to the Universal Studios Theme Park. The Universal Back Lot is the area behind the corporate offices where all the sound stages and actual filming sets reside.
I thought the venue for this event was exceptionally cool, because I used to work at Universal Pictures corporate, and used to drive through the Back Lot almost every day on my way to get lunch. If you have gate access with an NBCUNI key card, driving through the Back Lot is the quick way to get to Chipotle or to the Friday night car meets at the famous Bob's Big Boy restaurant down the street from the studios.
It felt strange to be back at my former workplace, parking in the same parking structure as before and taking the same familiar elevator up to the ground level - but this time I was surrounded by tons of classic air-cooled Porsches and hipster looking Porschephiles.
It doesn't take a film buff to recognize the location of this scene - the City Hall building on the right of this photo served as the location for the clock tower scene in the movie Back To The Future. However, at Luftgekühlt, this area served as a dining area and Biergarten.
On the left side of the photo above, the two storefronts in the background were used as the music video set for the classic hip-hop group Slum Village's song, Raise It Up.
Taking photos of cars unobstructed at Luftgekühlt was very, very, very difficult. While the setting was incredibly picturesque, you had to deal with thousands of people walking through your shots.
To shoot these photos, I had to wait patiently for groups of people to pass, with my camera pressed up against my face and my lens pointed directly at the car for several minutes, hoping for the crowd to clear for a couple seconds so I could press the shutter button. This being said, it took longer than usual to shoot this particular event.
Obviously, since all the cars were set against actual movie and commercial backdrops, there were awesome photo ops everywhere. Everywhere you looked, people were taking photos standing next to their favorite cars.
According to the official Luftgekühlt website and other information we uncovered on Instagram, this car is a 1955 Porsche Pre-A 356 barn find that has been sitting in a shipping container since 1979 and was on display at Luft in its original found condition.
Vintage Helmets owner Gary Plummer and his family were trying to buy it since the early 1980s and were finally able to convince the previous owner to sell the car in early April of 2019.
While there were plenty of crazy race cars parked on the Universal Back Lot, the subtle beauty of the Singer Vehicle Design Porsche 911s on display attracted the most stylish of eventgoers to admire the elegant body lines and hues that people associate to the Singer brand.
This 1990 964 is Singer Vehicle Design's Milwaukee car. It was commissioned to be built not just as a rolling piece of art, but as a driver's car. We'll be publishing photos and stories related to Singer Vehicle Design and their cars in the near future, so stay tuned to the FCP Euro Blog for more updates.
As I trudged up the hill, rolling my heavy camera bag towards the Universal Pictures Back Lot's ranch area, I discovered this Rallye Monte Carlo competition car sitting on its wooden pedestal. I'm almost 100% certain I said an expletive or two out loud when I first laid eyes on the car.
As with many of the cars at Luft, this 1979 911 has an incredible story. The Luft vehicle info page states that when it was first found in an Italian shed as a bare shell, nobody knew of the racing history it had until the Almeras logos were found under the paint work during restoration. There was even extensive body panel reinforcements, while the chassis remained completely rust-free with zero undercoating. was discovered in a shed in Italy as a bare shell, with very few parts intact and a lot of evidence of nesting critters. As a thorough cleaning was performed, extensive body panel reinforcements were discovered, along with the fact the chassis was rust free, and there was no undercoating on the car.
The thorough restoration began in 2010 to near period-correct Almeras specifications, and it has competed in various levels of motorsports, such as Italian rallies and some hill climb events, since then. It is registered in the Automotoclub Storico Italiano as a historically-significant competition automobile.
It was just amazing to see this vehicle in the flesh, in Southern California. I loved the styling, with the huge rally light pod on the hood, with the SEV Marchal fog lights on the bumpers and the three-piece Gotti race wheels from Italy. This car made my jaw drop!
Wait - are you kidding me? When's the last time you saw a Gulf Porsche 917 at a car show? Luftgekühlt basically took all of the cars out of the museums and set them on historic Hollywood sound stages. Amazing.
The Porsche 917K is one of the most famous and successful endurance racing cars in history, period. This particular 1969 917K is owned by Canepa Motorsport, and is one of the original 25 homologation cars, perfectly restored in every way.
According to Wikipedia on this 917K, it was driven by Brian Redman, Jo Siffert, Derek Bell, David Piper, and Frank Gardener. This particular 917K has apparently raced at LeMans, the Nurburgring, Daytona, and Brands Hatch. Its air-cooled flat 12-cylinder engine produces over 600 horsepower and is capable of a top speed of over 220 miles-per-hour.
Happiness is an early 911 Carrera RS. This particular Jade Green 1973 911RS is one of the first series, completed December 23, 1972. Originally delivered to its first owner in Switzerland, this RS remained in Switzerland for the majority of its life up until 1999 when this RS was imported to California.
This car is one of the first 500 Carrera RS examples ever built and one of the most desirable Porsches ever produced. The 1973 911 Carrera RS was built to allow Porsche to continue its success in motorsport following the retirement of the 917.
The goal was to prepare an all-out campaign in the European Grand Touring Championship Group 5 with a 911-based model called the RSR. To meet the FIA's production requirements, Porsche would have to construct at least 500 examples of a Group 4-legal model with a 2.7-liter engine that could be enlarged to the Group 5 maximum of 3.0 liters. Using the 911 S as a starting point, the Carrera RS boasted numerous changes in an effort to reduce weight and add power. Weighing just 2,370 pounds, the Carrera RS had a top speed of 150 mph and a 0–60 mph time of just 5.5 seconds.
Inside one of the sound stages, there were more historic cars on display. According to Luft, this 1972 Porsche 917/10 Turbo was developed from the engineering history of the incredibly successful Porsche 917 coupes. The 917/10s won racing championships on both sides of the world–in America’s Can-Am series and FIA's Interserie that raced in Europe from 1972 to 1975, which allowed for a wide variety of racing cars from various eras and series to compete with less limited rules than in other series.
Over 1,000 horsepower, 0-200 miles per hour in under 12 seconds. This example is considered to be one of the most original 917s in existence. Raced by GELO Racing and owned by Canepa Motorsport, this car took three first-place finishes and a total of seven podium finishes during its racing career.
One of my favorite race cars ever has to be the Porsche 935 Turbo. How could you not like a 935? The 935 looks wild, with widebody fenders, and it makes amazing turbo sounds when running on the track.
We discovered that this particular JMS Racing "X-Ray" Porsche 935 was campaigned by Claude Ballot-Léna of France, Peter Gregg from the USA, and Jacques Borras of France. The team drove this turbocharged beast in the 1977 24 Hours of LeMans to win first in Group 5 and place third overall, just 16 laps behind the second-place Renault and 27 laps behind the race winning Martini Porsche 936/77 prototype entries.
In fact, the X-Ray 935 may well have secured outright victory had it not suffered a great deal of trouble: they needed to replace the brakes, fuel injector pump, and a turbocharger during the race. The French and American duo of Ballot-Léna and Gregg drove a stunning race to secure themselves a third in distance, covering 2,676.57 miles over the full 24 hours at an average speed of 111.52mph.
This photo cracks me up, but it perfectly makes a statement about what Luftgekühlt 6 was like. At any normal event, if people were to see a rare Porsche 959, everyone would flock to it with cameras and cellphones at the ready.
Defining an era of supercars and ultimately changing the entire performance car industry, the Porsche 959 became the gold standard for engineering and performance in a car—torque vectoring, twin turbochargers, a 6-speed manual transmission, and adjustable suspension were all new concepts to the automotive world when the 959 was first introduced. These things all debuted on the 959!
However, at Luftgekühlt, there are just too many rare and crazy Porsches to look at, and this beautiful black 959 with Montana plates sat by itself, with nobody even noticing it for some time. That's just crazy. Luftgekühlt was a true sensory overload for Porsche fans.
I still have hundreds of photos to look through and prepare, but I thought I'd cut off this installment of our Luftgekühlt coverage here, so you can see these before the magic wears off.
In case you missed our live Instagram stories from the event, make sure you're following us on Instagram, and keep checking our blog for more photos from Luftgekühlt 6 very soon!
Story and Photos by Antonio Alvendia
Antonio Alvendia is an aficionado of cameras, rare wheels, hip hop, and obscure aftermarket car accessories. He bought his first E39 Touring after seeing M5 Estates on photo trips to Europe, and now has sights set on restoring a classic Mercedes. Antonio was a principal photographer on the limited edition hardcover book on Singer Vehicle Design's Porsche 911 builds, entitled One More Than Ten. Future goals include returning to the Nurburgring to shoot the N24 race and driving the Nordschleife again. ••• Instagram : @MOTORMAVENS