Behind The Scenes Of Luftgekühlt 4

Chapter One: Luftgekühlt

It’s no secret that I am not big on car shows. If it’s not moving at a high rate of speed or producing massive amounts of tire smoke, I usually don’t want anything to do with it. But every now and then I make exceptions, and seeing as I am a big Porsche guy, I could not resist the draw of what has become a car culture phenomenon.

For Luftgekühlt events 2 and 3, I just stopped by with my family, casually taking photos as cars were pulling out of the show. I came at the last hour because I was lazy.

Little did I know then, though, that just strolling around taking snaps would ultimately see me involved in the event itself. First, my shots ended up in the Luft coffee book; then the brains behind the operation, Patrick Long and Howie Idelson, asked me to help document some behind the scenes activities during the load-in the day before this year’s event.

Of course, I could not have said yes any faster; I really love what Luftgekühlt is doing for Southern California’s car community.

To say Luft 4 was a success would be a massive understatement. Although, that was not the feeling we had the night before.

While load-in was dry as a bone with amazing SoCal weather, the night before and the morning of the event had serious downpour conditions.

I had perfect weather and perfect natural light to shoot all the main cars loading in; while rain would normally spell disaster for any other car event involving millions of dollars’ worth of cars it was not the case for Luft 4.

Howie told me that he slept in a motor coach nearby the event location, and that it was beaten on by the rain. The team were very worried that no one would show up.

A year of planning felt like it was about to go down the drain.

Of course, that did not happen. In fact, it turned out to be the most successful Luftgekühlt event yet, with people from all over the world attending. That’s a pretty amazing for a little air-cooled car show.

Part of the reason of Luft’s continued success is the quality of car that shows up.

For those of you who don’t know, Luftgekühlt actually translates to ‘air-cooled,’ and that sets the tone for the Porsche models on show.

The selection of cars is highly curated by the organisers, and once again it did not disappoint this year. The centerpiece of the display was the 1951 356 SL Gmund Coupe.

Chapter Two: Loading Dock

Load-in day was much like any other car show that I’ve shot.

This aspect of an event is my favorite to shoot, because you can actually hear the cars run and smell the exhaust fumes. It really is a treat for me as most of these race cars were active before my time.

The venue itself was amazing too. Located near the Port of Los Angeles, this massive warehouse is home to swap meets, art-related shops and even a craft brewery.

It’s the perfect backdrop for the event, a relaxing environment outside of the normal parking lot-type show that we’re all used to.

While the majority of cars were driven into the venue, there was a constant stream of dream cars being unloaded from transporters, most of which were either not street legal or had been brought to the show from afar. Often it was a case of both.

Of course, the Singers get trailered. It’s a shame in some ways as they are such amazing driver’s cars.

One by one, Jeff Zwart and other the organisers would pull the cars up on the dock or place them in areas where I could photograph them before they were loaded into position.

It was a ballet of sorts, but it was fun for me as I got to see each car up close and personal. Check out how dirty this 911 that had just finished the Mexican 1000 was.

I also had a chance to check out this really awesome 356 built by Rod Emory. The car has 964 running gear and to top it all off is all-wheel drive.

It’s going to be a blast to drive on the dirt, and you can bet I will be featuring it sooner rather than later. I also had a chance to stop by Rod’s shop recently, so expect that story soon, too.

Art and air-cooled Porsches – what more could you want? It was honestly hard not to make amazing photos at Luftgekühlt.

I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the opportunity; inside the venue another photographer had set up a massive light.

The load-in slowed down a little around midday, which allowed me to catch up with a few friends and refuel. How cool is it that they made custom cups for the nitro brew coffee on offer? This is my kind of car show!

The slower pace also gave me a chance to do a few spotlights, one of which centered on this immaculately built 959 by Bruce Canepa.

The slower pace also gave me a chance to do a few spotlights, one of which centered on this immaculately built 959 by Bruce Canepa.

This thing was absolutely stunning inside and out, and easily ranked as one of my favorite cars at the show.

As far as a show-stopper, the Sunoco 917/30, which was also restored by Bruce Canepa, would be hard to beat.

There really is so much detail in this thing and I wish I could have heard it run.

With all the major showpieces loaded in and out of the impending rain, it was time for me to check out another aspect of Luftgekühlt.

Chapter Three: No Sleep

Not too far away from the show venue, RM Sotheby’s headquarters had been transformed into an event space for the Luftgekühlt book launch and social gathering.

The who’s who of the Porsche world were in attendance. The guy on the left is Kohey Takada from Motorhead magazine, and to the right is Pete Stout of 000 magazine.

I didn’t stay very long as my call time the next day was super early. So I stuffed my face with sausages and headed home for some sleep.

For how hard it was raining, it was amazing to see how many people brought out their classic air-cooled machines.

But everyone on the Luft 4 crew helped load-in the hundreds of cars waiting to enter.

As I mentioned earlier, the entire event and project that is Luftgekühlt was a massive success.

Even the line to get inside the venue was huge.

I was so glad I did the majority of my shooting before the crowd arrived as it quickly became impossible to get a clear shot. My attention was turned to the people in attendance.

Everyone’s favorite Urban Outlaw showed up with autograph pen in hand. I said hello, and came back an hour later to find that he’d only moved a few meters from his starting position. Talk about getting mobbed.

I keep hearing that car manufacturers are worried about millennials not buying cars and not being into car culture. This may become true in the far future when less and less internal combustion cars become readily available, but if you were to look at a snapshot of what car culture is like as a whole today, you will find a different picture.

It’s safe to say that car culture is more popular than ever before. Thanks to the internet and passionate people like Pat Long and Howie Idelson, the general public can enjoy very rare, multi-million dollar dream cars in our own way.

Luftgekühlt is thriving because of readers like you guys and regular car fanatics like myself. When Luft 5 comes around, maybe it’ll be worth your while to check flights or go on an epic road trip to see what all the buzz is about. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto


Chapter Four: Cutting Room Floor