A few weeks back, I had my first experience in an aircooled Porsche, a Carrera RS no less. Here are my thoughts.
It’s 5 a.m. and I’m rubbing my eyes as the rising sun turns the sky into beautiful shades of blue and gold. I’m standing in a residential community in Dubai, waiting for a car. I haven’t gotten much sleep the previous night, so to say I’m excited is an understatement.
A few minutes later, a white Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS materialises before me, shattering the silence with its aircooled loping idle. The red font on the doors, the ducktail and the foglights all say the same thing; this car is anything but ordinary.
Time to rewind a bit. Having been a petrolhead for a number of years, I’ve developed a healthy appreciation for most things on wheels. My taste has changed with time and these days, I find myself lusting after classic metal as opposed to the newest cars on the road.
For a few years now, I’ve watched the growing fascination for aircooled machines from Stuttgart. As the classic car market has highlighted on numerous occasions, aircooled Porsches have quickly turned into unobtainium, except for the fortunate few.
My personal experience with Porsche is limited to a few short drives in watercooled 911s, and a few minutes behind the wheel of a 991 and a Boxster. It was hardly sufficient, but enough to give me a taste. So what was so great about a car that was simply missing its radiator?
Through a series of happy coincidences, I found myself in front of the Carrera RS that morning.
As I climbed into the passenger seat, I was struck by how small the RS was, compared to modern cars. The ergonomics and simplicity of the interior were not lost on me either. We started off and the raspy exhaust note of the aircooled two-point-seven litre flat six engine made short work of any sleep. As we put the city behind us, I marvelled at the engine’s capacity to rev, almost ceaselessly. The lack of a radio was not noticed once during our entire drive.
Soon, we touched speeds that would have put us behind bars faster that it takes you to dial ‘911’. Yet, the car seemed so stable, while simultaneously giving us a sensation of what was going on around us. We were in a small white car made in 1973, hurtling towards the horizon at unnamed speed, with an exhaust note that told us to go even faster. We should have been terrified. Instead, we were elated.
As we completed our long circuit and turned back towards the city, I looked around the interior again. Everything one would need, nothing unnecessary. The large analog gauges gave the driver all the vital statistics in a glance. The shifter was the right length, as was the pedal placement. The large steering wheel simply tied together a very well thought out package.
As we reached the end of our trip, I thought about how Porschephiles lusted after these machines and how the aircooled movement has become a global one. A number of people have said that the movement is a result of a marketing move by Porsche and that all this hype helps to sell more cars and they may be right.
However, as I looked at the car glinting in the Middle Eastern sun, after it had been thoroughly hosed down, the answer came to me. People may pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to own cars like this, or to become part of the ‘Luftgekuhlt’ movement. Some may store the cars, others may drive them and a select few may race them. All I knew was that this little white radiator-less car had created a truly unforgettable experience for me. That experience and the wide grin it left on my face? Priceless.
After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Drive tastefully.
This story originally appeared on Petrolicious on June 10th, 2016.