Following on from the great time we had on our VW Days trip/holiday last year, Matt, Lucy, Connor and I decided to do something similar for MIVW this year. Gerry and Stefan wanted to come too, so we duly booked the flights and hotel, and were glad to have a holiday to look forward to.
That was back in March. By the time the end of July rolled around there were 17 of us boarding a flight to Amsterdam! The numbers were made up by a load of the guys from GTINI, who had decided to join us. We stayed in a hotel in Leiden, the town closest to the show. It was a really lovely place with boat tours, nice bars and an old windmill which we could see from our window. We could also see a few Mk2s parked in the car park behind the hotel!
Although MIVW is a one day event, there is a pre show/party at the NH Hotel on the Friday night. Some of the best cars from all over Europe take over the conference rooms and foyer (I still want to know how they got them in!) Meanwhile, anyone lucky enough to be staying in the hotel, which is usually booked up as soon as the show dates are announced, can show off their cars in the multi-storey car park.
The vibe was amazing, loads of people chilling in the car park, great cars to see in a relaxed setting and the dimming light, fading to darkness and a big lit up clock tower in the background. Sadly we didn’t take any pictures at the hotel. Partly because we had to taxi out to it and weren’t sure what to expect. Partly because we decided to get blocked and were busy chasing down a guy on a push bike who was selling beer!
Inside the hotel, there were cars parked in the lobby and you walked through to the conference suite where there were lots more. The first was a big round room which had the feel of a cathedral, the lights were slightly dimmed and people spoke in hushed tones. A sanctuary to worship VW and pray to Wolfsburg! Take me to church…
In this room, in pride of place, were two Mk1 Golfs, pale blue and pale green – super smooth bays, chromed engines – wheels off and mirrors underneath type cars. They were undeniably beautiful, but we were all a bit disappointed when we looked closely and saw that they had no headlight looms or wiper linkages. When does a car stop being a car and become just a showpiece? Anyway, no matter our taste, they certainly turned heads, there were people around them all day at the main show the next day.
Just off the round room was another, larger hall full of cars. I always think there’s something cool about having cars in a carpeted room. It’s a bit wrong, like they shouldn’t be there, but its awesome! It’s probably not great for the owners of the hotel, given old VW’s tendency to ‘mark their spot’ but it’s nice all the same.
The next day we headed to the show using various forms of transport. The show is so big that the traffic is queued for literally miles. Sick of waiting for the taxi to get out of the jam, some of the guys hired bicycles and set off through the Dutch countryside like the Famous Five!
The weather was a mix of sunshine and clouds, thankfully it wasn’t too hot – but of course us milk bottle NI folk ended up sunburned anyway!
MIVW show is held on Valkenburg Airfield, an old naval base. One of the old hangars is now a popular theatre. It is a huge site – when we first arrived in separate groups it took a long time to find each other!
Watercooled was definitely the order of the day – I know that is technically our ‘scene’ – but unusually for such a big show there was hardly a bug or a bus to be seen. Maybe they were all hiding under newer shells like this ‘aircooled Mk3.’
The show merchandise had a Hot Wheels theme, the stickers and t-shirts had a wide body R8 design paying homage to’big boys toys’ which I really liked.
As you might expect the standard of cars in general was high – especially in the area directly in front of the stage. Some of my personal favourites came from outside that area, for example this blue Vento. I am normally not a big fan of full colour coded bumpers and rub strips, but this one was stunning.
There were some seriously fresh cars which were barely out of the showroom but had already had loads of mods. We saw quite a few brand new Mk3 TTs, an SQ5 and this C63 AMG.
There was plenty of wheel inspiration – I liked a B4 Passat on Saab wheels and everyone loved these custom centrelock Zender Turbos on a green Mk2.
Another trend that isn’t going away anytime soon is wrapping. Satin/metallic wrap is a big thing at the minute, especially among the new wave Audi guys. I really like it, and this TT really stood out – the colour was gorgeous when the sun hit it.
There was a Mk6 Cab wrapped in satin harlequin colours and this cool Red Bull TT was one of Connors favourites.
One thing that a few of us commented on was that, although the cars were brilliant, the show lacked atmosphere, in a way that we couldn’t quite put our fingers on.
I know it was a static show, and there are only so many ways to present VWs parked up on an airfield. Maybe it was just too big- it was a vast area of flat concrete for the most part with little to break it up. The stage was right in a corner and the trade stands and food stalls were all in the one place.
Maybe it was the fact that a lot of people started leaving half way through the day – this seems to be the norm for mainland Europe shows. If you had turned up to VW Days about lunchtime on the Sunday you’d have thought the place was empty!
Maybe we had hyped it up too much in our heads and it just didn’t quite live up to our built up expectations.
I don’t think it was the fact that we didn’t know many people. At home at shows obviously you get chatting to people, but we were a large group and we made our own craic. We actually did meet a few Norn Ironers throughout the day. Lenny, wearing a day-glo yellow tshirt, who was over with his Beetle club and local boy Kyle in his recently overhauled S3.
It was just that intangible ‘feeling’ that some shows have that was missing. I’m not saying that it was a bad show, or that we had a terrible time – because that is definitely not the case! And the pre-show the night before was amazing, it had atmosphere in spades! There was something for nearly everyone, from old school Mk1s up to brand new Audis and budget builds to big money cars.
Our photos only show a fraction of what was there – the full album links are:
We spent the rest of the weekend after the show eating amazing steaks, having a few drinks, discovering a new boyband, sightseeing and sampling some of the ‘culture’ in Amsterdam. The banter was great as always – another successful car show holiday!