Air-Cooled Porsche Enthusiasts Converge on Lumber Giant
Slideshow: Air-cooled Porsches aplenty invade the Ganahl Lumber Company in Torrance, California for Luftgekuhlt 5.
Many of the best events have grown out of a very real passion for a particular make or model of car, and a very sincere desire to meet up with other like-minded owners and enthusiasts. It’s fair to say Lüftgekuhlt (German for “air-cooled”) is not only one of the best meets around, but also came about in exactly that way. It was Patrick Long’s wish to bring together fellow air-cooled Porsche owners that led him and his business partner Howie Idelson to organize the first Lüftgekuhlt in a Los Angeles parking lot five years ago. Like the current meet, Lüftgekuhlt 1 featured a hand-picked selection of the rarest and interesting Porsches they could round up.
Every Lüftgekuhlt is held at a different venue, and Luft 5 saw some of the rarest Porsches from around the world get together in Torrance, California, on the grounds of the newest Ganahl Lumber Company installation. Not only did the neatly-organized stacks of wood offer a great natural counterpoint to the metal sculpture on display, it also provided a neat link to Porsche’s past, as the company had migrated from Germany to a sawmill outside of Gmünd, Austria, during WWII. Gmünd is of course where Porsche built the first aluminum-bodied 356s, represented at Luft 5 by Jerry Seinfeld’s personal Gmünd coupe.
804 Formula Car
Even rarer that Jerry’s 356 was the Porsche 804 on view at the event. The 804 was Porsche’s Formula One car, and the exhibited chassis 03 is the car Dan Gurney drove to a first-place finish at the Solitude track near Stuttgart as well as a third at the German Grand Prix in 1962. Although Porsche scored a victory with Gurney driving a different chassis to victory at the French Grand Prix, the manufacturer withdrew from Formula 1 at the end of the year.
To celebrate the 30th birthday of Porsche’s 964 model, Luft 5 featured a full spectrum of the model in a rainbow of colors. One of the most significant versions on display was the 964 Carrera 3.8 RSR that finished first in its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for 1993. The 964 racer gave the RSR, a designation that began with a roar in 1973, a new lease on life. The race-winning car at Luft 5, originally driven by Jurgen Barth, Dominique Dupuy, and Joel Gouhier, will live on in the homes and garages of anyone who took home a copy of the official Luft 5 poster.
A favorite of fans of the golden age of sports-racing prototypes, Porsche’s 908, a model which overlapped the run of the company’s earlier 910 and the later Le Mans-winning legend 917, was in attendance at Luft 5. The lumber facility hosted a rare 908K model, the “K” standing for the Kurzheck, or short-tail, body style that first appeared on the 908 in 1968. The flat-eight powered Porsche was provided by RM Sotheby's—which means it’s up for grabs—who delighted fans by allowing driver Vic Elford to provide a "Moment of Noise" for welcoming ears.
908, part 2
In 1969 driver Hans Herrmann brought a long-tail 908 to a second place overall finish behind the aged GT40 driven by the stupendous Jacky Ickx. The 908K on display, chassis number 010, had a less-stellar career—after being crashed by Jochen Neerpasch, it was sent back to Zuffenhausen for repairs before being put into storage for many years.
At first glance, this yellow 911 may look like any old ‘67, except maybe with an added fiberglass bumper kit. But then you notice the vented plastic side windows and you know somethings up, though you’d be forgiven for not recognizing the car as one of the four prototypes Porsche built for the 911R (of which only 20 proper examples were made). Bearing the code R4, it features fiberglass bumpers, doors, and decklid; a thinner windshield; and plexiglass side and rear windows; all combining to shave 440 lbs of weight. In place of the standard engine was a 906-spec 901/22 twin-plug engine that put out 210 hp.
Many other air-cooled Porsches were available for gawking, drooling, or selfies, although at least one hybrid sneaked into the mix. No word if the organizers required the hybrid air/liquid-cooled 959 to remove it’s prohibited heads before entry was allowed.