Why People Love Porsche | WheelHouse


– Were all Porsches air
cooled at some point? – Yes.
– Yeah, okay. (laughs) Right? I’m the first to admit
that my Porsche knowledge is a little bit lacking. But within the last five years, there’s been a huge surge
in the brand’s popularity. More specifically, their
vintage air cooled models. To find out what makes
these cars so special and why demand is through the roof, I sat down with Porsche
restoration expert, John Benton at Benton Performance in Anaheim, California. (engine revs) Thanks for being on the show. – My pleasure. – In a philosophical or a romantic sense, intrinsically, what does
air cooled mean to you? – In the romantic sense, air cooled for me hearkens back to this era
that came well before us. This all happened in a place and time where it came together to make this really elegant little
box that makes power. The motor’s finned,
it’s like a motorcycle. You see a motorcycle with fins and the projected cylinders. You know, these are boxer motors, so everything’s pushed out. You guys, I think you’re used to like Subarus and things that are opposed. – Is it the air cooled engines that make these cars so unique? Or is there some other mysterious factor? – It’s been said that
the wind shaped the car. They did wind tunnel testing, and they did different things. The style’s also dictated by
the people that designed it, and there’s a simple
elegance about these cars. There’s only a few automotive shapes that you can splash on a wall, and even those who maybe
aren’t car enthusiasts will say, “Oh, I know what that is.” – They know exactly what it is, yeah. – Because that shape, whether
it’s 356 from pre 80 to now, the 911, that iconic shape
sprouted from that design, and it’s alive today. I see it right now. I’m just in love with it. Squeezing the most out of something that shouldn’t be doing
that is really awesome. It’s what we do here. Everybody here’s dedicated
to preserving these cars. I’ve dedicated my whole life to it. – The first motorcycles were
produced in the late 1800’s. Familiar names like Daimler and Maybach were producing two wheeled machines powered by primitive and air cooled internal combustion engines. It wasn’t long until these same engines would be put in four wheel designs, giving birth to the automobile. Porsche’s first production car in 1948, the 356, borrowed it’s air cooled flat-four from the Volkswagen Beetle, and they stuck with this
simple design for decades. Were all Porsches air
cooled at some point. – Yes.
– Yeah, okay. (laughs) Right? – The first Porsche was
electric, P1 was electric. So, it was air cooled per se. – The air cooled technology,
it’s a little older. Like we were saying, it’s more
of an antique kind of style. Are they reliable motors despite the fact that they’re not water cooled? – They’re very reliable,
like scary reliable. Any bad connotation that
comes along with an old car, be it air cooled or water
cooled, or whatever, is usually the result
of lack of maintenance and understanding of the machine. For me, early on, I bought
some books and self education, went to some of the providers, I’m like, what’s the good
piston, what can I do? So, I was on a budget,
but I built my first motor and it never died. I mean, that motor was just
alive for a long, long time. I still have a 59 single
cab Volkswagen truck. It’s got a 1600 CC motor in it with a little tiny single carb. If you’re used to this stuff, you get used to the
fact that in the morning you gotta pump it three or four times, and goose it maybe, and then it lights up, and you gotta warm it up. And when it’s hot, just the opposite. You’ll just flood it. So, when it’s hot, all the fuel boils off, especially the new fuels we have. So, you have to just
give it a little touch, and crank it til it starts,
and then clean it off. So, people that are used to that, you give them their car and you don’t hear from ’em for half a year, a year, and they could bring it back for service. – Do you think that’s kinda connected to the same way people buy vinyl records, and even cassette tapes? Like an appreciation for– – Absolutely. This new generation of
people that appreciates cars also appreciate other
things that are more analog, more visceral, audible, tactile. They’re appreciating the things that are present in these cars. As a culture, I’ve experienced
it in the last decade, artists and people with
a more stylistic taste and a different view of the world have become more prevalent,
their voices heard. They’re becoming more affluent. We had yuppies when I was comin’ up. I don’t think they were
as culturally emboldened as this last wave of people
that appreciate things. But these people have
come to appreciate this. And they’re used to
driving around in a Prius that just click, voom. Some of the people that
are buying these cars now have never owned a car with a clutch. They’re not used to warming up a car. They’re not familiar with these smells. They think the car’s catching on fire. They’ll call me, they’ll
be up in Laurel Canyon, “Hey, John, the car’s
making this weird noise “and I smell something.” I’m like, “It’s probably
the engine making the noise, “and you’re smelling that.” (chuckles) – With Porsche oriented events like Luftgekuhlt growing every year, more and more people are interested in buying air cooled Porsches of their own. I wanted to know what perspective
buyers might be in for. What are some misconceptions
about air cooled Porsches? – I’ll give realm of misconceptions. One of them is that they’re affordable. I hear people say about, especially the four cylinder variants, that it’s a poor man’s Porsche. There’s never a Porsche ever made that was a poor man’s Porsche. Not even a 914. If you’re gonna drive a Porsche car or an air cooled car, even a Volkswagen, you gotta spend a few bucks. You gotta be willing to do that. You gotta put your money
where your passion is because it’s gonna take some effort. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can save a lot of money on labor. But parts, by in large, quality parts, they cost a few bucks. – Is the experience worth the price? – It boils down to to kinds of clients. There’s a client that has a car that’s been in their family
since they were a kid. It was their first car or
they got married in it, or they brought their kids home, or it was their dad’s car, grandpa’s car. So, they are willing
to spend what it takes, and they’re not worried
about the investment. Okay? The folks that come in and they’re worried about the investment, that’s a tough one. It’s like, “I’m gonna climb Mt. Everest, “but what’s the cheapest rope I can get?” (chuckles) And, “Do I really have to
wear those funny shoes?” It’s like get the, out.
– Yeah. (chuckles) – It’s like, you wanna do this and experienced it to the
fullest, let’s just do it. – Big, big thank you to
John and everyone else here at Benton Performance. This was awesome, I learned a ton. It’s exactly what I want WheelHouse to be. So, if you wanna see us go to more shops, let us know in the comments. If you like Porsches, check out this episode of Up to Speed on the 911. And some of these Porsches
were turbocharged. So, check out this episode
of Science Garage on turbos. It’s awesome. Wear your seatbelt, see you later.

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