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?’
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!