Porsches in the Rain at Luftgekühlt

Photo by Mikey Snelgar, @mikeysnelgar on Instagram

On Sunday morning I met up with Head Mechanist in Charge, Hedi Sersoub, to head to this year’s British Luftgekühlt, which is arguably the coolest and most confusingly named Porsche meet in the world. However, unfortunately, our chariot for the day was not the coolest thing in the world; a black Fiat 500. No, it wasn’t a classic 500, nor was it an Abarth, but yes, we did look like a couple of teenage girls heading for some pumpkin spiced lattés. Our goal was to arrive at Bicester Heritage by the time the event started at 9:00 am, so we had given ourselves plenty of time by leaving at 7:30, but the city of London and the league of two-wheeled menaces known as ‘cyclists’ had other ideas. The bicycle-straddling  buffoons had established a near-impenetrable barrier that looped for 140km around where we both live, though fortunately, after an hour of searching we managed to find the one road they hadn’t disgraced with their spandex outfits and pointy sunglasses and were on our way to the event that we still couldn’t pronounce the name of.

 

After another hour, a few coffees, and an uncertain agreement on the correct pronunciation of ‘Lufgekuhlt’ we had reached Bicester. Luftgekühlt, for those of you who, like me, aren’t that great at German, means ‘air cooled’, referring to the air-cooled engines in all production Porsches up until 1998 with the introduction of the 996 generation 911. Hedi and I, however, were being thoroughly water-cooled by the heavens, which had decided to open up after a week of sweltering heat, and as I discovered while writing this, that was a joke that pretty much every Instagram account that attended the event made. Clearly, Porsche people all have the same slightly sad sense of humour.

Photo by Mikey Snelgar, @mikeysnelgar on Instagram

Bicester Heritage is an excellent place to hold a car meet, especially a Porsche one; the sprawling complex is scattered with lovely old industrial architecture that wonderfully offset the organic curves of the various 365s, 911s, 914s, and 904 Carrera GTSs sprinkled around the property. Speaking of Carrera GTSs, for me, the highlight of the show had to be the immaculate and obscenely gorgeous Irish Green example which they had positioned in the centre. Fitted with a 185 bhp, 1,966 cc DOHC air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine, this Carrera GTS is the only one to have been painted in its particularly lovely shade of green from the factory, and recently sold for over £1.1 million. Worth it, in my opinion; cars just like it have won their class at Sebring, Spa, Nürburgring, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1964, giving this beautiful sportscar excellent race pedigree.

 

Having wandered around a bit more collecting raindrops with our non-waterproof jackets, we encountered another highlight for me – Singers test mule for their recently unveiled Dynamics and Lightweighting Study, which they built in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering. It was an awesome sight squatting in the drizzle, with massive tires poking out from underneath its gargantuan wheel arches, vents punctured into almost every body panel, and a healthy layer of general mechanical dirt semi-evenly covering the lower half of the car. Seeking shelter from the rain, we found a room that was walled in beautiful green tiles that perfectly contrasted the colours of the pristine skittles-flavoured 911 Carrera RSs.

After spending a bit more time being drooled on by the sky, and drooling over some more beautiful Stuttgart goodness, we trudged back through the muddy gravel and tarmac to our Fiat 500. The one thing the 500 has going for it is its classic good looks. However, having spent a day surrounded by such gorgeous metal – and carbon fibre – it seemed comparatively plain, even ugly, as we hopped in and headed back to London, leaving an automotive haven for the two-wheeled chaotic hellscape we had left behind earlier that day.

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