Idle Hands are the Devil’s Playthings

They say the Devil finds work for idle hands. I don’t know if it was Old Nick himself, but certainly a slow Saturday in work found my thoughts turning to Event City in Manchester, where I knew some of the GTINI guys, and lots of other NI car enthusiasts had already arrived for the Fitted UK show.

A couple of searches on SkyScanner and a few phone calls later and it was settled. We were flying from Dublin the following morning at 6.30.
Sensible 12.30pm Matt initially said ‘no, it’s too close to hols etc…’ but 10pm Matt after a few beers texted to say ‘Can you pick me up on the way to the airport?’

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5 hours after that, we were on our way to the airport! Any doubts we had about the idiocy of the last minute trip were soon assuaged by McMuffins in the Trafford Centre.

When we got to the show, it was already packed with spectators – though it had only been open for around an hour. The venue itself is huge, with plenty of space to walk around – and they needed it all! There are loads of trade stands (my personal favourite being the converted VW camper selling luxury ice cream!) displays of RC cars, drift trikes and of course hundreds of the best show cars in the UK.

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The metal on display indoors was incredible. The standard was generally extremely high, though as always there were a few cars let down by poor paint/finish or some small details. Having been on the other side of the selection process I know how easy it is to make a car look half decent in a photo, and I suppose you can’t force people to buff their cars before putting them into a show – though maybe it should be a rule!

But, in the main, all the cars thoroughly deserved their spot. One of the things that stands out at Fitted is their famous ‘podiums’ – which raise some of the cars up above floor level onto small stages scattered throughout the show. These contained everything from Lamborghinis to drag Beetles. While they certainly add interest, it makes it difficult to appreciate a smooth bay or re-trimmed interior, and potentially highlights the ‘bad bits’ of a car – the bottom third which might not have received as much detailing or rusty sills. Maybe that’s just a MK3 thing!

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There is definitely something for everyone at Fitted, not just VAG vs Jap but classics, race cars, American Muscle, stanced show cars, supercars and motorbikes all in the one place meant there was a lot to look at.

Personally the new wave ‘wheels and air’ cars don’t interest me much, I was busy looking at old school MK1 Golfs and a roof chopped Beetle. But there was plenty of both and some really unusual things like a heavily modified Toyota Aygo and Renault Twingo which I have never seen before!

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GTINI were represented by Nigels ‘Red Grenade’ Corrado on it’s first trip across the water, which looked superb and Robins 944  Porsche. Other noteworthy NI cars were Niall’s 993 Porsche which bagged a coveted podium spot and Natasha’s Harley Quinn themed Beetle.

My highlight of the show was the Low Rider section, where they demonstrated the awesome hydraulics, making the cars bounce and gave an opportunity to look around some serious custom work. The crowds certainly seemed to be loving them.

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A ‘love it or hate it’ car or trend rears its head in the car scene from time to time, causing hours of debate online and among friends. Last year at Fitted it was the silly extreme camber – this year, for me, it was unfinished cars. It has been a growing trend at shows this past year or so. It’s not necessarily a new thing, plenty of ‘showpiece’ cars over the years are trailered everywhere, and so have no headlight looms/wiper motors etc. But it seems to have become more prevalent, cars coming out to shows with just an engine in the bay, no internals/pipe work/wiring. Or in primer. What is the point? Anyone could build an immaculate car with a totally smooth bay and a fully chromed engine sticking 3ft out of the bonnet like some kind of Fast & Furious reject – if it didn’t actually have to run! Sure they look good, and get plenty of likes on social media – but at what point does it cease being a car?

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the unbelievable amount of effort that goes into some of them. Like a certain yellow Scirocco (although I am given to understand that it’s engine is actually functional) – fully smoothing the whole interior – and the paint on the inside of the roof that puts the exterior of most cars to shame! It’s just not for me. On the other hand, both Stefan and Connor said that car was the main reason they wanted to go to the show in the first place – so each to their own!

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There were some very tired boys in the pick-up on the way back home from Dublin. We were shattered for the rest of the week, but we had a great time, so it was worth it. As I said, there is something to see for everyone, and plenty of controversy to argue about for everyone too. I highly recommend taking the trip to Manchester yourself next year to check it out – though maybe book it in advance!

Check out the rest of our pictures here

Lee

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Castlewellan 2017

It’s hard to know what to say about a show which has changed so little over the past 13 years. Now, while that may sound like a negative statement, Castlewellan is my favourite show is this country. I’m not really sure why but I suppose when you combine the blissful setting of a forest park, consistently good weather and an atmosphere that shakes off the jumped up scene kid attitude it has to be good, right?

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Castlewellan seems to be as popular with the non-vag crowd as it is with its own and offers prearranged club stands and entries for the non-vag types. Two of the stand out vehicles from “this side of the carpark” had to be Andy Cooper’s Lotus Evora and Geddis’ bagged and Cummins converted 130 Land Rover. It’s not too often you will get to type that line!

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The VAG side of things was the usual affair of old and new with the focus more on the older stuff as is common at this show. A special mention has to go to Nigel for getting his Corrado back out after 3 years off the road. Resting on some of Airlift’s finest with a VR6 turbo angrily turning it’s OZ Pegasus wheels it’s a car I have been looking to see for some time and it looked great.

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I’ll give over now and go back to applying aftersun to my sunburned everything, click here for the pictures.

Connor

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BOVC 2017

Every year I’ve been to BOVC’s meet at The Outlet in Banbridge I’m totally amazed by the cars tucked away in this country. Most of the cars in attendance are older classics owned by, shall we say, older people. You won’t have seen them plastered over Instagram or crying about not having got accepted to a show. Refreshing, eh?


Cast your mind back to the last time you seen three Jag E Types together never mind sharing a carpark with American Muscle or British Army Land Rovers which once roamed our own streets but that’s what we have here.


It’s also interesting to see oddities such as the cream Fiat Uno or the Rover 214 having survived. Neither were an overly popular car with enthusiasts and with prices being low for years many, including very clean examples, ended up as field cars. The fact some survived and are loved enough to be maintained to such a high standard is great.


One thing does bug me though, 90s cars being classics, albeit modern ones. I refuse to accept it and that’s only because it makes me feel old. I’m 28 and grew up surrounded by mk3 Escorts, GT4 Celicas and Novas. How can this be?! I still think my ’93 Golf is pretty modern as it has electric windows. Maybe I’m just weird…

Click here for the rest of the pictures

Connor

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Cars at the Mill 2017

There’s nothing like driving a car to a show with 0 miles under the belt of its latest modifications. As much as I try avoid it I usually end up down to the wire and the road test is on the maiden voyage. It happened on the way to MLVW for the MK3s first outing after a total ground up rebuild, it happened going to FittedUK in Manchester last year after the engine went back in with a full paint/wire tucked bay and power steering delete and it happened again on the way to this year’s newest show, Cars at the Mill.

Picture the scene, 70mph *cough* on the outside lane of the motorway and you hear a loud crack from the front right wheel, you’ve just fitted air suspension (a kit built by yourself) and suddenly 1000 scenarios are racing though your head. Have I got steering? Have I got brakes? Have I just filled my boxers? A quick glance over my shoulder told me what I didn’t have. An arch liner, now decoratively scattered over the motorway in bits. Not the worst but still shit.

Arriving at the show calmed me a touch, getting to explore a new venue is as interesting as the cars for me. Set at Raceview Mill in Broughshane, an derelict mill recently converted into a business village, the show feels like many different shows in one. Each building has a different vibe to it and even the outside changes from alleyways lined with shop fronts to wide open courtyards.

The range of cars on display couldn’t have been better either. As much as I hate the phrase, there was something for everyone. Supercars, classics, stanced cars, performance cars, big budget, home built, it was all there. We even came across a group of classic bikes in one of the many show areas.

The prize giving consisted of a Top 5 selection with Car of the Show and runner up. A great option with so many potential categories to choose from keeping things short and sweet. A great day was had by us and here’s hoping we can do it again next year.

View the rest of the pictures here

Connor

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Dubshed 2017

Recently we were reminiscing about the early days of Dubshed and the difference between then and now. Bale trailers replaced with a proper built stage, old sheds replaced with a purpose built exhibition hall and a change of venue to name just a few.

For those who have attended consistently the changes have been noticeable year on year. Most recently has been cars of the non-VAG persuasion creeping in. Last year tested a few other German cars inside but this year left it totally open to all Germans, taking in BMW, Mercs and Porsches. The strongest presence from this crowd was from NI BMW with a well varied stand including three generations of M3 and even an E30 M3 rally car.

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Different again for this year was a rallycross display on the Saturday which was fantastic to watch. The cars competing ranged from V6 Boras and Alfa 156s to single seaters and Type R Civics. The highlight for me though was watching a Mk3 Fiesta XR2i chasing down and passing the Alfa in a cloud of dust.

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Of course the main attraction is the Volkswagens. New and old gathered in the Eikon Centre to put on their best display possible, many of which absolutely killed it. Most notably for myself was Niall O’Dowd’s Polar Silver 993 on hydros and step up RSs, Robin Ashfield’s 944 looking purposeful in race spec  and the green 4motion Bora with all the US spec goodies (my personal car of the show). A strange top 3 for someone who doesn’t like Porsches or modern cars…

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Speaking of car of the show, top prize went to Stephen Hall’s stunning Type 2 Notchback, a fairly unknown car in the watercooled world which had chins wagging all weekend. Prizes this year changed from car model categories to Top 25, a sensible move with the addition of more models to choose from.

All these changes have added up to a formula that works well but continuing to make changes keeps things fresh year on year.

See the rest of our pictures here

Gallery

Connor

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Titanic Dubs 2016

Did the GTINI weather bubble finally burst? With gales and heavy rain forecast for Saturday everyone kind of thought the usual would happen and a miracle would keep us all dry. While the wind and rain flickered between light and heavy it wasn’t just as bad as it was to be. A small consolation?

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The NI Volkswagen show closer still drew plenty to cars from far and wide with some spectacular cars on display.

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If you’re an old fixture of the local scene then Phil Guiney pulling up in a body dropped, T25 crew cab on hydraulics will not be a surprise to you.

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Another car that instantly caught my attention was the Mars Red mk1 Jetta. Driving in I could hear the distinctive rip of carbs feeding with a KR engine.

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Unfortunately the wonderfully dire weather caused a shortage of pictures on my behalf but the general word was the day was still a success. I suppose it’s off to the garages to tear down the cars for next year. I know that’s our plan,

Picture Gallery

Connor

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Sko and G0

While we’re lording it up in our country mansion for VW Action and Edition E38 we decided to take a few pictures of Richie’s latest Skoda outside.

Check it out at Edition tomorrow and come say hello

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