Luftgekühlt’s Air | Water was a mystical automotive trip through history

“I’m not even a Porsche enthusiast but this? I dig this!”

That emotion, conveyed by yours truly to my buddy Vijay (@pink_helmet on Instagram) would go on to define my experience during the entire day I spent at Luftgekühlt’s new show “Air | Water.” On its own, Luftgekühlt is an exploration of strictly vintage Porsches. Air | Water, however, expands on that premise by highlighting every era of the German marque. And boy, did they deliver.

For their inaugural year, Air | Water brought some of the most incredible Porsches to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, the first United States Navy base established on the Pacific Ocean and the place that built the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. This was over 5,200 acres of German beauty, from early air-cooled ones to racing legends to the newest Porsche 911 Dakar.

Half the time I was there, I had no clue what I was looking at or what historical significance some of those cars had but that hardly kept me from being blown away around every corner. The cars were seemingly arranged haphazardly but look close and each served as a dotted line on a map; meant to lure you into that warehouse over there or down that seemingly empty alleyway to discover even more lurking gems. There are no placards or chains breaking from the immersion of the looming sizes of both the setting and the cars.

Now incredible cars will be incredible regardless of the setting they’re experienced in. After all, that’s half the reason we car enthusiasts go to cars and coffee events or park & chills. But Air | Water took the setting they were in and used it so, so well. There’s an allure to having a historical place like the Mare Island Naval Shipyard all to yourself. It isn’t abandoned, in the sense that it is unkempt and subject to vandalism, but in the sense that it no longer houses what it is known for. It’s like…history pulled from its time, frozen, and brought into our future. Every rusty beam, broken window, and peeling wallpaper once stood witness to events we will never experience again, and yet being in their presence is like a time machine.

Like the cars there.

These race winners, these 1-of-100s, these masterpieces once owned by names you might aspire to be like, no longer do the things we know them for. And yet by looking at them and studying every scratch, dent, ding, and paint imperfection, we’re taken back to their golden days. It’s almost like we’re there at Le Mans alongside them, with the engines roaring and the cars rushing down the asphalt blowing wind through our hair.

This combination of history within history is an experience that’s hard to put into words more succinctly than what I’ve already said. It’s pure magic and something that has to be felt firsthand to understand the goosebumps. I drove away feeling beyond satisfied, longing that I could rewind the clock and feel it all again. However, much like Mare Island’s era of building our nation’s ships, my time at Air | Water was over. All I had to remember it by were my memories and the over 280 pictures I had taken in the span of three hours.

They will now serve as a time machine, if you will, in the same way that being at Mare Island and seeing the historic machines it housed for a day did.

To relive my memories alongside me, check out my full, edited gallery here!


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