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Two Porsche Gatherings with a Difference – L.A.’s Luftgekühlt and Miami’s Das Renn Treffen

by | May 2016

Interest in air-cooled Porsches has risen to an all time high – on both the left and right coasts – especially among the younger generation. Cars and Coffee events have sprung up nationwide over the last five years. Yet there’s still a growing need for an all-Porsche meeting place where new ideas can thrive in a focused yet casual atmosphere.

Now in their third and second year respectively, Luftgekühlt and Das Renn Treffen are providing just that kind of meeting place for young and old alike. These events are the perfect magnet for enthusiasts who want to drive their Porsches out for an early spring show and catch up on what’s happening in their local community.

Dateline: Los Angeles

Like the name suggests, Luftgekühlt (German for “air-cooled” and shortened by many to just “Luft Kult” or “Luft”) celebrates all things Porsche and air-cooled. It is an L.A. based automotive brand conceived by Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and creative director/designer Howie Idelson.

Long and Idelson are close friends and grew up racing go-karts. “We were sitting one day at Deus ex Machina in Venice (a popular motorcycle shop),” says Idelson. “Patrick had his old Porsche there, and over coffee we brainstormed this idea of gathering a group of air-cooled Porsche friends together for a cool event.”

Luftgekühlt’s inaugural 2014 event took place at the exact same location that the cool idea was born. The next year, other good friends – the L.A. creative studio Bandito Brothers – hosted the event. For 2016, Luftgekühlt III took place at Modernica, a vintage-style furniture manufacturing facility in nearby Vernon. Long and Idelson are considering more national and even international Luft events for the future.

Rain was forecast for this year’s April 10th weekend, but fortunately Sunday was spared, and Modernica’s factory with its large industrial lot turned out to be the perfect location for what is destined to be a SoCal landmark event.

SoCal is well known for having a car culture that is unique. Not surprisingly, owners of all ages, their dogs, and their kids showed up. And there were the cars… in virtually every color. Fifty years of air-cooled goodness showed up, from Jeff Zwart’s charming light grey 1949 Gmünd, to the flashy candy colored 70s 911s, all the way through the darker and more somber toned 993s produced up until 1998.

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Chad McQueen, Jerry Seinfeld, Patrick Dempsey, Bruce Canepa, Rod Emory, Kevin Jeannette, Spike Feresten, and Rob Dickinson mingled among the growing crowd as the big party got into full swing. A black 1975 Interscope Carrera RSR came from Arizona. A freshly built retro/original Magenta RSR/GS appeared, transported all the way from Florida. There was a silver Abarth, a 904, a Carrera 6, and others – even a Porsche tractor.

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By noon the crowd had swelled to more than 4,000, and 400+ cars had arrived. And that didn’t include the water-cooled cars that showed up and parked in their own spot, or the cars that were left outside the gates.

Arguably, the highlight was an RM Sotheby’s auction of a 1985 Carrera that Long and his friends commissioned to be built especially for this event. It adopted the name ‘Luftauto,’ and it’s possible there will be more of these special builds at future “Luft” events. Knowing Long, none of them will be alike.

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For this vehicle, Long chose a safari theme, aiming at SoCal’s active beach and mountain lifestyle. Joey Seely of E-Motion Engineering oversaw the rebuild that included special suspension, rally wheels, and a roof rack. Emory Motorsports fabricated custom skid plates and bumpers. Pelican Parts, Benton Performance and others pitched in with additional services and accessories.

The exciting auction started at $60K. When the hammer finally fell to thunderous applause, ‘Luftauto’ sold for a staggering $275K – all in the name of the pancreatic cancer research foundation, Autumn Leaves Project. It was an incredible show for an admirable cause.

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Dateline: Miami

On the east coast, a similar event had taken place a month earlier. Florida has long been known for its love affair with exotic sports cars and legendary racetracks. And South Beach in Miami is the epicenter for a car culture that is equally as vibrant as L.A.

Miami’s Das Renn Treffen (German for “the race meet”), also known as DRT, is now in its second year. This past March 6th saw a remarkable Porsche street gathering at South Miami’s outdoor Sunset Place shopping mall. On closed off streets, thousands of smiling Floridians admired more than 265 air- and water-cooled Porsches.

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Unlike Luftgekühlt, which is focused on air-cooled models, DRT is open to all Porsche models and public entry is free for both adults and children. It’s a more ‘curated’ event where organizers select cars for their quality and place them strategically in colorful groups. You won’t see any rusty beach cruisers here. The pre-registration fee is a bit higher, but it includes a DRT event T-shirt and access to a VIP hospitality tent. There are 21-judged classes with awards, so it has more of a traditional car show feel.

At DRT II, live music added to a relaxed environment where families took a leisurely Sunday stroll and admired the cars. The vibe was casual cool – in a way that only Miami knows how to do. The March weather was perfect. The cars were too – which included a new 918 Spyder, an Interscope 935, a 1985 factory Safari 959, and a Hurley Haywood driven 962. Carrera 356s and Speedsters were also in attendance.

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Alvaro Rodriguez de Vera, DRT organizer and director at Parkhaus 1, a local Porsche shop, was delighted, saying “Nothing brings me more joy than to unite people and their families for the love of Porsche cars.”

As one of the founders of Miami’s VolksBlast, a vintage VW show, de Vera comes from devoutly air-cooled roots, yet he also admires modern water-cooled Porsches. He has long experience in organizing accessible car events that have helped raise funds for worthy causes. The shows he’s been involved with have generated more than $120,000 for local charities over the last 17 years. Giving back to the City of South Miami, especially the communities in need, remains one of the main goals of DRT.

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De Vera, like Long, strives for the right mix of venue, cars, and people. Sunset Place provided the picture-perfect Miami background with palm trees and vintage touches that blended well with the sleek cars and multi-ethnic crowd. Free access to the public is to be congratulated, and in Miami languages blended, with everyone speaking the common language that is Porsche.

The vintage air-cooled vibe is on a roll. And Porsche is one of the few marques that still attracts vast reserves of enthusiasm. Thanks to Luftgekühlt and its counterpart DRT, there is a changing of the guard in L.A. and Miami. Both events set high watermarks for local car shows that not only are a lot of fun but also collaborate with creative brands that support some great causes.

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Article Copyright © 2016 Randy Wells. All Rights Reserved.

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