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Origins Of The Air-Cooled Porsche Engine

Origins Of The Air-Cooled Porsche Engine


The Fuel Injection Festival or the Internal Combustion Gathering. Neither have much of a ring about them and as ideas for new festivals, they’re really unlikely to catch on. Unlike Luftgekühlt.

Recently hosted at Bicester Heritage, home of Porsche Centre Swindon’s Porsche Classic Life facility, Luftgekühlt has cult-like status and is a homage to the air-cooled flat engine.

It’s literal translation from German is ‘air-cooled’ and the Luftgekühlt festival provides a platform for all Porsche officienados with a love of air-cooled flat engines to come together and celebrate their passion.

So what is it about the air-cooled flat engine that still holds so much power over Porsche fans?

Origins Of The Air-Cooled Porsche Engine
Origins Of The Air-Cooled Porsche Engine


It’s history dates right back to 1896 when Carl Benz first came up with a flat engine - unique because its two cylinders worked in opposition to one another. The cylinders lay flat on opposite sides of the crankshaft.

Porsche first joined the flat-engine fray when Ferry Porsche put a VW Beetle 1.1 litres, four-cylinder engine into his Porsche 356. In the hunt to find a new engine for the 356’s successor, a six-cylinder flat engine with an axial fan was developed.

The air-cooled flat engine was also an ideal choice for sports cars such as the Porsche 911 as its low design lowered the car’s centre of gravity, giving a sportier and more dynamic style of driving. Installing the engine at the back also gave more traction as the weight rested on the drive axle.

Unlike today’s modern water-cooled engines which are closed circuit and carry a liquid coolant through channels in the engine block and cylinder head, the air-cooled engine  released engine heat directly into the air.

Air-cooling reigned supreme up until the introduction of the Porsche 911 996 in 1998. This makes the Porsche 911 993, produced from 1994-1998, one of the most sought-after models around. It’s the very last of the air-cooled 911s.

All 911 engines since then have been water-cooled but Porsche Centre Swindon has a couple of models to set true Luftgekühlt fan’s pulses racing.

Origins Of The Air-Cooled Porsche Engine


There’s a stunning 1997 Porsche 911 993 Carrera 4 with just 53,042 miles on the clock. It’s immaculate and comes in rare Mirage Metallic. There’s a 3.6-litres engine, partial leather seats and automatic climate control. Plus, there’s all wheel drive, an electric sunroof and electric windows and a six-speed manual gearbox. All yours for £78,995.

But for a real classic, how about a 1987 Porsche 911 Turbo in Venetian Metallic Blue with a 3.3-litres engine? There’s a cream leather interior, heated sports seats and just 48,231 miles on the clock. This 80s icon comes with a £129,850 price tag.

It’s probably only a matter of time before there’s a club for water-cooled flat engine fans, but until then, the Luftgekühlt will continue to capture the hearts, minds and souls of Porsche fans keen to embrace a true piece of automotive history.

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