There is no mistaking the sound of an air-cooled Porsche. My non-car enthusiast wife even states that she knows when I am coming home by the sound of the engine as I am banging through the gears on the road up to the house.
That sound is unmistakable from the cockpit too as the engine sucks in air, valves click and the exhaust gases produce an unmistakable rumble that Porsche has tried to duplicate with their water-cooled models with baffles and buttons, but so far have been unsuccessful.
The sound of an air-cooled Porsche flat six is the sound of power.
This sound works psychologically on the driver to convey performance through the senses of sound, touch and smell. Sound as we discussed is number one, but combined with the minute vibrations and road feel produced by a flat six along with the smell of oil and gas of the exhaust fumes a driver can't help but fell he is wringing the last bit of performance out of a Porsche.
An air-cooled Porsche gives you an analog driving experience that is unmatched by today’s digital models. We’re talking mechanical watch, not quartz or like a Leica camera, versus a Kodak Instamatic.
There are no electronic driving controls such as ABS (though introduced in the 964), traction control or drive by wire. An air-cooled Porsche was always considered the ultimate drivers’ car (excuse me BMW) because of the fear associated with controlling the heavy rear end that caused the notorious oversteer that only the best drivers could handle before the electronic aids came along.
The lack of electronics equals simplicity in design. You can see the engine, you can access the engine and you can maintain the engine yourself. No computers to diagnose the problem, just the knowledge and skills of a seasoned mechanic.
There are more than the sounds and smells of a simple air-cooled flat six that makes it handle like no other car. It is the weight. Think of the significance of how the weight of water affects the weight and balance of a car. This lack of water provides for a more lightweight car providing a more nimble car that will hug the corners and provide a flat level cornering response that is unmatched by other sports cars.
If you have a tight stomach and can keep your foot on the gas as the momentum carries you through the corner you’ll have a cornering experience that will send chills through your body with your brain begging for more as the adrenaline runs through your veins.
A water-cooled Porsche with all the electronic driving aids will never match that same feeling you get when cornering all-out in your air-cooled 911, 912, 356 or 914. The water-cooled Porsche may be faster and surer in its cornering but it will never provide that same visceral feeling you get as you hang the rear-end out in your air-cooled Porsche knowing that you are in control, not the car.
But, what really drives the air-cooled joy is it is often a first love. It may have been a first look, a first experience or a first connection, but it was a first love; an experience that can’t be repeated or duplicated. Every time you sink down into the driver's seat it takes you back to that point in time of love, joy and freedom.
Enjoy the experience of driving your air-cooled. Take it out of the garage. Arrange a drive, join a drive, and enjoy the car. It is unique and special experience that other car enthusiasts only dream of.
Jim Moore, July 2019
Jim Moore bought his first Porsche in 1992 and still owns it today; a 1986 911 Carrera 3.2. As founder of Air Brigade Jim encourages driving air-cooled Porsches and enjoying the whir of the flat six fan.
Jim has owned a succession of Porsches, most notably a real ’73 911 RSR, a former factory 911TR racer, miscellaneous 911’s, a 944 and a 914 2.0. that was another dream model from his high school days. Porsche ownership has also include a speed yellow GT3 and a black on black 997 twin-turbo that shares the garage with his Carrera and 914.