Usher In A New Season

There are so many reasons to love fall and the changing seasons: cooler temperatures, harvest season, festivals, the fall foliage and let’s not forget – pumpkin beer! So when we received an invitation from the Small Car Company to join them on their air-cooled rally to Westoberfest, we were excited to jump in–literally–and experience our first east coast car rally.

Westoberfest is a one-day festival that brings a bit of “Oktoberfest style” to Westport, CT with live music, local food, a farmer’s market, beer tastings from over 30 local and regional New England breweries and last but not least, a display of air-cooled classic cars, by the Small Car Company. Although we left our lederhosen at home, we brought our appetites, our thirst for adventure (and beers) and our love for air-cooled cars.

A line of air-cooled VW and Porsches parading down Main Street to the Westoberfest Beer Festival

Air-cooled Rally

A car rally can be competitive or fun and driven on public or private roads. This air-cooled rally, made up of Porsches and VW’s, was a fun, 30-mile route laid out by Small Car Company’s Dave Abelow.  Starting in the town of Fairfield and winding northward around the Saugatuck Reservoir, we completed the route along the streets to our final destination in Westport where the cars entered town parade-style, complete with a police escort.

The day started at Sloan Motors, an impressive showroom filled with rare and low-mileage air-cooled Porsches, where we met up with fellow drivers and participants. If you’re looking for that special Porsche, this is a great place to start. After a tour of the showroom by owner Brett Sloan, we grabbed lunch, picked up our maps and listened intently as Dave went over the route.

The Lineup

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a drive and an outdoor festival – it was sunny with temperatures hovering in the mid-’50s. As everyone lined up in their cars at the start of the route, we each grabbed our “shotgun” seats: one of us buckled into Dave’s 1972 VW Super Beetle while the other hopped in Brett’s 1969 Porsche 911T. Now this VW was no slouch: imported from North Africa and subsequently rescued from Florida and restored by Dave, this custom hot-rod is equipped with a 1302-RS motor which puts out 168 hp. It’s a fast bug with a lot of custom details.

Nipping on the heels of the Beetle and begging for more speed as we found ourselves stuck behind a Subaru was Brett’s red 1969 911T. Equipped with an Elephant racing suspension upgrade and a modernized Electromotive ignition system, this Porsche maintains its original looks but packs an extra punch.

The Platinum beauty in the group was Tom’s all original 1981 Porsche SC, which he purchased in college during a trip to Stuttgart 34 years ago when the dollar was at an 18 year high. Smart guy! Another 80’s babe, but slightly younger, was Jeff and Bernadette’s silver 1987 Carrera they picked up and drove back from Washington DC back in 1993.

Bundled up in their convertibles were Jeff in his yellow 1971 Beetle, purchased seven years prior via eBay (which he recently named Larry), and Jack in his 1670cc lightweight (1200 pounds) 1966 Dune Buggy which he built out himself – just look at those details! Zipping by us, and regrouping later, were brothers Daniel and Humberto in their 2050cc 2.1L 1973 Porsche 914 they restored, over five years, from the ground up.

Not far behind were Greg and Thea in their red 1974 Porsche 914 which Greg gave new life to after it had been abandoned for several years. And sitting high, and also restored by the owner, was Bill and Rene’s 1971 VW Type 2 Bay Window bus which proved to be very popular with the kids at the festival. Last but not least and arriving just in time for the parade, was Thomas and his very pretty 1966 Java Green Beetle.

Let the Beer Tastings Begin

After regrouping just outside of downtown and our short, escorted drive along Main Street, the cars lined up along Elm Street for Westoberfest’s patrons to admire. As the curious began to mill about the cars, we picked up our commemorative beer tasting glasses, chatted it up with the locals and indulged in the craft beer tastings and festivities.

Decisions, decisions. With a variety of craft beers from as far north as the Maine Beer Company of Freeport, ME to breweries with unique names such as the Radiant Pig, No Worries Brewing, Night Shift, and the Devil’s Purse (sounds sinister) there were so many to choose from. Despite the vast options, we found ourselves gravitating to pumpkin IPA’s; after all, it is pumpkin-everything-season. After several IPA samplings and a couple of bratwursts, the festival’s coordinator rang the bell and announced, “last call” signaling the end of the festival.

3/4 rear view of Java Green vintage VW Beetle at the Westoberfest Rally and Beer Festival

Where did the day go? There was so much to take in a single afternoon: Porsche’s, VW’s, new roads, new beers and most importantly, new friends. Although we didn’t shoot as many photos as we originally planned, we didn’t beat ourselves up too much, as we let ourselves get lost in the moments and experiences of the day. After all, we were in good company.

Special thanks to Dave of the Small Car Company for the invite and generosity as well as to Brett of Sloan Motors for his hospitality. We’ll be looking forward to next year’s festival and rally.

Cheers to new friends and great memories!

Side view of red Porsche 914 with Greg Amy adjusting the removable roof at the Westoberfest Beer Festival
Long rear view of vintage Porsche's and VW's at the Westoberfest Rally and Beer Festival