A Visit To Flat-Six Performance

Wilhelm Lutjeharms

Lukas Kemp has been a car technician for three decades. We pay his business, Flat Six Performance, just outside of Cape Town, a visit.

Words and images: Wilhelm Lutjeharms

The workshop is full of German cars. There are two gorgeous Mercedes-Benz 190 SLs, an R107 SL and then, as the name suggests, quite a number of air-cooled Porsche 911s. In the corner is an air-cooled, flat-six engine which has been rebuilt and expertly put back together while more cleaned, vapour-blasted and coated parts are stored for current projects.

Flat Six Performance

Lukas Kemp has been working on cars for three decades and as I walk into the workshop, I caught him busy cleaning the fuel and air intake system of an air-cooled 911. I ask him about the 911 on the lift... After all, if you don’t work in a workshop, it is not often that you see the inner workings of these engines.

“I’m one of those lucky people who knew from a very young age what I wanted to do, and that was working on engines. Back then as a teenager I was obviously not brand specific, but when I paged through all the magazines and saw the cars and their engines, I knew what path I want to follow when I left high school. Today, working on these cars, it remains an absolute passion of mine.

Flat Six Performance

“In 1991 I started my apprenticeship working in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on Mercedes-Benz and Honda cars. I qualified there in 1993 and then got a position at Sandown. However, then I came to Cape Town on holiday, met my wife, resigned and got a job at Orbit in Parow Industria. I packed my Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI and drove down to Cape Town. Owing that GTI was another one of the reasons I fell in love with German cars.”

Lukas worked at Orbit for just over five years, and then his career took another turn. 

“When Porsche opened their dealership in Tyger Valley in 2000, I went for an interview. Back then my focus was on Mercedes-Benz though, but, during my interview and upon seeing the type of cars in the workshop, I felt that that was where I wanted to work. When I learned more about Porsche and what the brand represents and what their cars are capable of, I was hooked.”

Flat Six Performance

Lukas worked at Porsche Centre Cape Town for a full 12 years. It was during this time that he was trained on, for example, the first water-cooled 911s, the 996, as well as the Boxsters and the Caymans of the early 2000s.

“Some of the overflow classic Porsche work was sent my way during these years. This is when I started enjoying working on these classic cars. When you have a passion for something, you learn and pick up the knowledge very quickly.”

Flat Six Performance

After a four-year stint at specialists Crossley & Webb in Cape Town, Lukas decided to set up his own workshop with another partner.

“I’ll work on some newer Mercedes-Benz models as well, but if the issue is not straightforward, I’ll refer the car and its owner to another specialist. 

“Sometimes I enjoy working on the modern-classic Porsches, but the air-cooled cars are my real passion.”

Flat Six Performance

Lukas will service a car, rebuild an engine, gearbox or suspension system and will even do the necessary electrical work. Even though he works on a lot of 911s, the earlier Porsche 356s also pass through his workshop. 

Although his daily programme in the workshop is made up out of a wide variety of jobs, Lukas is quite clear as to what his dream project would be: “It is my dream to one day get a client with an air-cooled 911 and a blank cheque that asks me to do a nut-and-bolt restoration. Often I think how I will tackle such a project and the procedures that I would follow…”

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