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Rain-cooled Porsches prevail at Luftgekühlt’s British debut

With torrential rain pouring down on Bicester Heritage last Sunday, the inaugural UK Luftgekühlt event – Southern California’s much-hyped Porsche fan fest – turned into a wet beauty contest for Great Britain’s rarest Porsche sports cars...

In the British classic car community, Bicester Heritage has become synonymous with one of the finest venues for automotive education and recreation. We are all familiar by now with the Sunday Scramble meetings, held four times a year at the preserved bomber base located in Oxfordshire. But last weekend it was time to bring a slice of California to the United Kingdom with the inaugural Luftgekühlt GB meet. With the weather in the UK being uncharacteristically hot in the last couple of months, the crowds of air-cooled Porsche owners and enthusiasts were surely looking forward to a Californian-esque climate, but were instead greeted with a huge drop of temperature, and with that, rain. Plenty of it, too. 

As to be expected at an event in the UK, spirits were kept up with a lot of wisecracking – car owners and guests chuckling under their umbrellas and renaming the event to a more appropriate ‚Wassergekühlt’. Or was it ‚Wheels and Waves’? Jokes apart, the organizers of #LuftGB did a splendid job in curating the right cars and carefully positioning them in the most fitting and photogenic locations across the Bicester Heritage site.

So by wandering around the old airfield and its history-steeped outbuildings, you could bump into a casually parked and beautifully prepared original Porsche 911R with its slender, subtle body being stared out by the Singer DLS development car; its obnoxiously wide arches and patchy bodywork making no apologies. Keeping dry inside the still-fresh Sports Purpose buildings were the roofless contingent; a brace of Porsche 550RSes, including the 'Wing', which we've seen at various events this year, including the Goodwood Festival of Speed just two weeks ago.

Furthermore, the team behind Luftgekühlt UK had managed to draw not one but two Porsche 904 GTSes to Oxfordshire – the dark green example with the ‚You 4’ plate having been prepared by brand guru Lee Maxted-Page and recently featured on Classic Driver.

Die-hard Porsche racing enthusiasts also marveled at the black-and-yellow Kremer Racing Porsche 911 2.8 RSR that became the face of Porsche’s official posters after winning the European GT Championship in 1973. There was a Porsche 911 3.0 RS, a Jägermeister Racing 934 and an impressive line-up of holy-grail-status Porsche 911s – from the original 2.7 RS to the 964 RS and the insanely expensive 993 GT2 Evo. 

And, of course, there were numerous Porsche 356s, period correct as well as hot-rodded, and even a Speedster with its original Cali plates. And while various restomod Porsches competed for the evilest look, our favourite custom creation was still the multi-coloured Porsche 911 that Paul Smith recently designed for eclectic collector James Turner and that looked even better in the wet. As Dolly Parton once said: If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. 

"The weather may have deterred a few, but to me the turnout for the inaugural event was still incredible, and a real credit to all of the organisers", commented photographer Robert Cooper who covered the event for Classic Driver. "Here's to hoping there's another Luftgekuhlt GB before too long!"

Text: Robert Cooper / Jan Baedeker   Photos: Robert Cooper for Classic © 2018