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Inaugural Air|Water event sees more than 1000 Porsches come out to play

Words: Nathan Chadwick | Photography: Luftgekühlt

More than 11,000 Porsche enthusiasts swarmed to the Orange County Fair & Event Center in Southern California to celebrate 75 years of everything Porsche at Air|Water, on April 27, 2024. Organised and carefully curated by Luftgekühlt, 1000-plus cars filled the 130-acre site.

A host of Stuttgart’s finest were positioned artfully in the six main exhibition halls while, outside, rally and off-road machines tackled the Action Sports Arena. Those who fancied adding something to their Porsche collection could head to the Broad Arrow Live auction in The Hangar (more on that below), while a sold-out exhibitors’ hall had everything a Porsche fan could need or want.

A host of Stuttgart's finest were positioned artfully in the six main exhibition halls while, outside, rally and off-road machines tackled the Action Sports Arena

A host of Stuttgart's finest were positioned artfully in the six main exhibition halls while, outside, rally and off-road machines tackled the Action Sports Arena

Visitors got a chance to take in the Porsche-powered Footwork F1 car, Le Mans winners, Pikes Peak entrants and lots more besides, plus the opportunity to meet event organisers Patrick Long and Jeff Zwart as well as Porsche factory racers Jörg Bergmeister and Alwin Springer. Other highlights included 33 white Porsches in the Pacific Amphitheatre, custom-restored builders in Park Plaza, and a barn full of vintage finds.

However, Broad Arrow’s auction hall was where a lot of the international attention was fixed, with 56 cars and 41 items of automobilia up for grabs. The 1969 Porsche 908/02 Langheck ‘Flunder’ Spyder (pictured above) was among the 19 cars unsold (and currently available for $4.7m).

Although more than 50 percent of the cars did sell, there were some casualties along the way. A 1988 959 Komfort with Canepa Gen 3 engine enhancements and Canepa S suspension upgrades went for $1.93m against a $2.1m-$2.4m estimate, while a 1996 993 GT2 (estimated at $1.7m-$2m), a 1974 934 Turbo RSR (estimated at $750k-$950k) and a 1964 356 C Carrera 2 Cabriolet (estimated at $750k-$900k) failed to sell. There was similar pain further down the list: a 1973 911 S Targa and a 1970 911 E Safari sold for way below estimate, with the Targa going for $95,200 against a $140k-$160k estimate, while the 911 Safari sold for $58,240 against a $120k-150k estimate.

There were a few above-estimate results, but the eye-opening big-ticket cars that did find new homes largely fell within estimate, such as the 1997 RUF BTR Twin ($1.15m, after the sale), 1986 962 IMSA GTP from Dyson Racing ($775k) and the auction’s top result, a 2015 918 Weissach Spyder ($2.86m). Total sales surpassed $15.6, with a sell-through rate of 80 percent for the event.

There was better news for this 2005 Carrera GT, which had covered just 3601 miles in the hands of its one owner, retired American racing driver John O’Steen. Fresh from a December 2023 annual service, it sold for £1,792,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $1.4m to $1.6m.

One curious result (on first impressions, at least) was this 1993 964 Carrera RS America, which sold for $302k against a $240k-$280k estimate, while a 1992 French-delivery 964 Carrera RS failed to sell with a $250k-$300k estimate. The European RS models are generally seen as favourable to the American cars – Porsche didn’t feel that the US had the stomach for such a hardcore machine, and so it didn’t officially bring a ‘proper’ 964 Carrera RS road car to the US.

Nevertheless, fans were upset, so Porsche responded with the RS America, which was only 35kg lighter than the Carrera 2 via deleted air-con, sunroof, radio, electric mirrors and so on – but you did get M030 sports suspension, a whaletail rear spoiler and optional limited-slip diff. It’s still significantly heavier than the European RS, and does without the seam-welded shell, engine and other enhancements.

So why did a proper RS not sell, when an RS America did, for a similar amount of pre-estimate money? While the French RS had done only 37,050 miles, it had received an engine upgrade to 3.8 litres while in the UK; the RS America is also much rarer (with little more than 700 built), and this particular car had covered a mere 6621 miles and was described as “nearly new in every regard, with exceptional originality found in the engine bay, suspension and undercarriage”. In this case, originality and condition trumped the actual RS.

Not every foreign-market 911 was frowned upon – this 1970 Porsche 911 E hailed from Germany, and had been restored ten years ago. A desirable first-year 2.2-litre fuel-injected car, it had a Porsche-issued Certificate of Authenticity, and sold for $134,400 against a pre-sale estimate of $100k-$130k.

For more details on Air|Water, head here.

For more details on the Broad Arrow auction, head here.

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