In Other Words: Paradise

This Massive 911 Gathering Is Vintage Porsche Nirvana


May 8, 2018 Cars By Photo by Andrew Maness

Luftgekühlt is so much more than a car show. It’s a community gathering, not just for those of us with a “mildly” unhealthy obsession with air-cooled Porsches, but for also for anyone remotely curious about the history of the brand. Though experts and Porsche legends are in attendance, casual observers and “noobs” are equally as welcome. The only prerequisite is a passion for Porsche.

Pulling some of the rarest Porsches out of poorly lit museums and climate controlled garages and sticking them outside in a lumberyard might seem an odd choice, but Luft, as it’s called, is a stroke of genius. As they have done each year since the first gathering in the Deus parking lot in Venice Beach, event organizers Patrick Long, Howie Idleson and Jeff Zwart outdid themselves.

This year’s Luft 5 was the largest of these shows yet, both in crowd size (some 3,500 tickets were sold and an estimated 4,500 people attended) and in venue size. Newly opened 18-acre Ganahl Lumber in Torrance, California, played host to the event — an appropriate pairing for sure. The Ganahl Lumber Company was founded by Austrian immigrant Christian Ganahl in 1904 and the foundation of Porsche as we know it today was laid on the grounds of a re-purposed sawmill in Gmund, Austria between 1944 and 1949. There, the first 53 Porsche 356s were built among the wood and sawdust, so it was quite special to see one of the last “Gmund coupes” in its element once again, especially alongside a smattering of later-model 356s that can also trace their roots back to that sawmill.

Zwart said, “Venue was central to everything — to keep things fresh, especially with all the various cars.” When chatting with Long about his favorite thing about the show in general his face lit up and he answered, “The people who cut their own path, stuff that’s painted the wrong color… I love it. Originality.”

Owners who had secured placement for their cars in the lumberyard showed up at the crack of dawn for load in. The stream of cars was steady all the way until the main gates opened to the public at 9 AM.

This 1953 Pre-A survivor car was rightly put on a pedestal where one could ogle its perfect patina.

908K chassis number 10 once driven by storied racing driver Vic “Quick Vic” Elford stopped people dead in their tracks all day long. For the briefest of moments, it once more roared to life with Vic behind the wheel, bathing the whole lumber yard with the sonorous sound of the flat-eight. This rare short-tail werks prototype will go to auction later this year with RM Sotheby’s where it’ll probably take in a pretty penny.

When Porsche turned their attention to Can-Am racing in the ’70s they did so with the utmost ferocity. With virtually no regulations in the American racing series, Porsche was free to build the most bat-shit crazy race car they could conceive — the result was this 917/10. The twin-turbocharged five-litre flat-12 produced close to 1,000 horsepower and 663 lb-ft of torque all in car that weighs just 1,690 pounds.

The last of four 911 R prototypes built in 1967, currently owned by famous racer Bruce Canepa.

This 1996 RUF BTR did battle with other 1990s supercars like the Ferrari F50 and Jaguar XJ220 both in real life and on many a Playstation.

This is the best story from Luft 5?. The 1953 356 shown here wouldn’t have been at Luft had some random person not come up to owner Matt Clawson to suggest he check it out. Clawson’s father and a friend had bought the car after they returned home from WW2 and wanted to get into racing. They promptly blew the engine and as a result of fire damage the once beige car was painted red and the car has remained the same ever since. Clawson came home from the hospital in this car as a baby, rode in it to school before it sat under a sheet in Northern California. Years later, Clawson trailered it down to San Clemente, where it was tuned up but not restored. It’s beautiful and unique: Clawson’s father and friend installed the handmade wood dash because they were sick of burning themselves touching the metal when racing. Oh, and that Telefunken radio works — it’s as rare as the car itself.

The pinnacle of air-cooled 911 race cars, the 993 GT2.

There were many 964s at Luft 5 to celebrate the model’s 30th anniversary, but this LeMans class winning 964 3.8 RSR is simply on another level.

The only 964 to wear Tourmaline Green. Stunning.

The flat-eight under this beautiful bodywork was good for 190 horsepower in 1964. Having this 804 on display was a nice tip of the cap to legendary driver Dan Gurney passed away earlier this year. Gurney won the French Grand Prix in July of 1964, gaining Porsche their only World Championship qualifying F1 victory as a constructor and another non-WC win at Solituderennen near Stuttgart.

The beautiful fiberglass bodywork of the 904 never ceases to amaze. 106 street legal 904s were built and sold in 1964. They only cost $7,245 then.

Gmund SL 063, the first Porsche to race and win at LeMans. The legend of Porsche in motorsport begins here and Mr. Outlaw himself Rod Emory restored this beautiful racer for the owner back in 2015.

“Speedster Blue” is the best color for a Pre-A Super.

The Fullmer/Donahue Sunoco RSR takes home the best livery award for Luft 5.

More Iconic, Museum-Quality Porsches

The Petersen Museum exhibit is called “The Porsche Effect” and will run for an entire year, through January of 2019. Read the Story