Who doesn’t love an early start for a Porsche event that’s been announced with a really short amount of notice?
Me, that’s who.
As anyone who’s ever seen me in a morning will attest, I am not, in any way, a morning person. I’m not all that much of a night owl either, but that’s another story.
Having said that, there are certain exceptions to every rule, and the fact that Lüftgekuhlt are holding their first ever UK event at Bicester Heritage is definitely one.
The thought of poring over some of the finest and iconic German machinery is enough to pull me from an unusually comfortable bed at 5am. It drags me downstairs to the coffee machine and as soon as that sweet, sweet caffeine hits, the rest is a formality. I’m up now, I’m going.
Being Britain, of course the weather decided to have a day off from the scorching heatwave that we’ve been subjected to recently (I don’t want to say enjoyed, I certainly haven’t enjoyed sweating every hour of the day), to typical ‘British car show’ weather. That is to say, it rains a lot, and the clouds look threatening at all times. The weather report for the remainder of the day shows that Bicester is subject to rain precisely between the hours of ‘as soon as the show starts’ to ‘as soon as the show ends’. Figures.
But hey ho, it’s a good excuse to rock my new Grip & Slide hoody. Shameless plug, I know, but they’re actually pretty comfy. Go buy one in the store 😉
The journey down from Sheffield was… boring. There’s not a great deal to say about a motorway journey in the rain in the UK. I listened to Mac Lethal and dodged awful drivers for most of it, if you’re interested. Which you’re probably not.
Get to the cars, Tom.
I will, I promise.
I’ve never been able to attend a Lüftgekult event over in the good old USofA, but I’ve seen plenty of coverage from heavyweights such as Larry Chen and the guys over at Petrolicious. To say that I was jealous of their access to the events is a gross understatement. The variety and the sheer quality of the cars (and the venues!) was something to behold. It really got me itching for a UK event. Good things come to those who wait. Or at least, sometimes they do, and this was one of those times.
It was only because of Mr Grip & Slide himself, Laurie Southern, who casually dropped into the conversation that Luftgekühlt was crossing the pond and taking over Bicester Heritage. The theme of well-chosen venues continues!
Weather and boring journeys aside, and we’ll not mention getting lost 50 meters from the entrance, but the day as a whole was an incredible one. The level of organisation was as high as you’d expect from a well established international outfit. Pat Long and the guys really know what they’re doing at this stage.
Also, I feel the need to give a quick shout out to whoever made the decision to get this Porsche tractor in the show. Top marks, sir.
The finest and most unusual cars there were curated, and just… dotted around the venue. You’d turn a corner and you’d find a Singer tucked away in a slightly obscured corner. But you’d only be 10 or 15 metres from the heart of the show. The surprises were almost endless.
Being a WW2 RAF base, the character of Bicester Heritage is like that of no other. The contrast of the peeling paintwork of the hangars to the immaculately preserved inner buildings is stunning, and you won’t find it anywhere else.
Bicester Heritage are already dedicated to historic motoring, and are looking to cement their spot as “the UK’s principal destination for anyone who wants to experience motor cars from all eras, including the future”. And let’s face it, with events like this, they’re going the right way about it.
Put it this way, when you walk into the show and this is the first car you see, you know it’s going to be a good day.
The cars, as expected were some of the best examples of Porsches that I’ve ever had the privilege to witness. My expectations weren’t just met, they were blown out of the water.
And then, outside of the main internal building, I saw it. The Singer DLS mule vehicle. Arguably more important than the DLS itself, the mule unassumingly sat with no signage hinting towards its final form. The people that surrounded it (and there were quite a few), had somewhat puzzled faces, and I don’t blame them. There were no obvious clues as to its origin.
As you can tell, this car is unapologetically ‘function over form’, only bringing it closer to my heart. As much as I love a show queen, there’s no substitute for a well used driver/test car. This, for me at least, is one of the ultimate examples of such a thing.
If you too like the look of this little beastie, then give The Ugly Truth Behind Singer’s DLS a read. Jordan Butters goes into some proper detail about the mysterious mule.
Wandering round, we happened upon a bit of a legend in the endurance racing scene, John Hindhaugh. A veteran endurance racing commentator, John was one of the most friendly and down to earth chaps I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with.
He’s been commentating on the biggest race events in the world for nearly as long as I’ve been alive, and as Laurie will tell you, that’s a long time. He gave us a quick tour of his gorgeous 911 and regaled us with stories of how he set up Radio Show Limited, and other experiences he’s had. Such a nice chap, and if you’ve ever met him I’m sure you’d agree. He’s certainly inspired me to get a bit more involved in endurance car racing.
That’s what really encapsulated the spirit of the show for me, the openness of all the owners, organisers and attendees. Strangers, being brought together by the love of air-cooled Porsches, could be seen throughout the site chatting like they’d known each other for years. It was great to see.
I’m hoping I’m painting a fairly vivid picture, but I’m not sure I’m doing it justice. Probably because, for the most part, I was walking around in a Porsche induced daze.
Remember the old Marks and Spencer advert? I think that’s how I’d best describe this event, it’s like no other- not just a Porsche event, a Luftgekühlt Porsche event.
I don’t think you can’t fully know what that means until you’ve experienced one, so the question needs to be asked of the guys over at Luftgekühlt…
When’s the next one?