The fact that air-cooled vehicles remain so popular now, despite being relatively few and far between even at their peak and now confined to a dwindling number of motorbikes, is testament to just how much appeal the thrum of an engine cooled by air and oil holds.
The Porsche 911 helps, obviously. For almost the first 35 years of its life, it steadfastly stuck with a method that many others were slowly abandoning, and deployed it to staggeringly good effect in the way that only the 911 can. Those pre-’98 cars, with their unmistakeable profile and pastel colours are now the darlings of Instagram, photographed in sun-drenched climes by those who seem to live through the lens of a 35mm camera – and who wouldn’t want a slice of that life?
It’s no surprise that the 911 dominates the air-cooled conversation – from the petite early narrow-body cars up to the brute force of the 993 GT2, it truly showed what was possible with the technology.
There was also, of course, Volkswagen, who stuck with air cooling exclusively up until 1970, and allowed it to co-exist with water cooling for a good few decades afterwards. From the obvious – the Type 1 and Type 2, or Beetle and Transporter to you and me – to the deeply obscure, like the SP2 and the Fridolin, pretty much every conceivable type of car was spun off VW’s pioneering air-cooled, rear-engined platform throughout the 20th century, and all of them have garnered a huge cult following.
Air-Cooled Appreciation Society is all about the Porsches and the Volkswagens, of course, but it’s also about the Triumphs, Harleys and Moto Guzzis, and the Tatras, 2CVs and Corvairs – all those vehicles that possess the distinct charm that only an air-cooled engine can provide. Fourth Wednesday of the month.
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