On The Road To Wörthersee
A Different Route

It’s the car show that isn’t a car show. Well, technically it’s a precursor to a car show which does take place later in the month of May, but I haven’t a clue about that because, well, I’ve never hung around long enough to see it.

You would think that travelling 1000 miles across Europe to attend a not-a-car-show is an awful idea, but for those of you who have read our past Wörthersee coverage will know, it’s actually not the worst idea in the world…


The last time I visited the lakeside village of Velden in Austria, I drove from my home in southern Ireland, met some friends in London and hitched a ride with them south through France, Belgium, Germany and into Austria itself. It was a long, long drive. This year, I flew.

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However, the drive is part of what makes the pilgrimage special, so I only flew about three-quarters of the way and landed in Münich. There was a plan to drive directly from Ireland, but it would have involved an approximate 35-hour journey – each way. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Technically, this would be cheating. Akin to shipping your car to five miles outside Wörthersee, collecting it and rolling in fresh as a daisy. But I wanted to redeem myself in some way and to legitimise the journey.

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So, after a couple of phone calls and some back and forth e-mails with Volkswagen’s awesome press office, a brand new GTI would await me at Münich airport.

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This was both a good and a bad thing.

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Anyone who knows me will know of my lust for a GTI after a brief spell with a separate press car last year. Should I come into a financial windfall, my first act will be to place an order with my local VW dealer for a MkVII GTI, with the Performance Pack, in Candy White three-door and DSG guise. I absolutely adore the cars. For me, there is no other car than can do so many things, so well. Need to haul a new set of shelves home from IKEA? GTI. Need to do a track day? GTI. Need to bring the mother-in-law shopping? GTI. Want to scare the absolute be-jesus out of said mother-in-law? GTI.


There are faster cars, there are more practical cars but none manage to do everything at the same time quite so well. It’s a car you never have to compromise with. The trip south was the perfect example of this. 220km/h-plus (136mph) runs were effortlessly dispatched with 1,000rpm and another gear to go. Average fuel consumption for the entire journey? 6.7L/100km or around 42mpg. I’ve no idea how Volkswagen do it, but I hope they keep doing it for a long, long time.

The Road South
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With heavy rain sporadically interrupting the journey, it did mean that a more leisurely pace was adopted. Not all of Germany’s famous autobahns are derestricted from speed limits either, so you need to pay attention and not get carried away with yourself. The rain also introduces variable speed limits as do the never-ending roadworks and maintenance.

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One of the benefits of the European Union is the free travel between countries. Many moons ago, this was the border crossing between Germany and Austria.

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Now, the buildings have been repurposed and the crossing has been replaced with a blink-and-you-will-miss-it sign on the side of the road.

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I felt that it was around this point it was time to take a break. Not because of fatigue, but more so because of boredom. Long solo drives can be absolute nightmares, especially when using any country’s motorway network. It’s not so much driving as it is aiming and generally trying not to hit other cars. You do come across the odd sight to brighten up your day though.

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As it turns out, it was a good thing I stopped as I had completely forgot about purchasing a ‘vignette’ toll sticker for my jaunt into Austria. The sticker costs €8.70 for 10 days and covers you to drive on Austria’s exquisite motorway network. All of the proceeds from the toll are invested back into the motorway network for future construction and repair.

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Think of it as price of admission, because once you’re in, the cost of the toll is irrelevant.

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For mile after mile, the stunning views will captivate you for the rest of the journey.

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And I mean stunning.

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When you’re not distracted by the scenery, you’re usually blasting through miles and miles of tunnels which cut through the mountains.

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When was the last time you saw a petrol station that looked this good? It’s just so difficult to put into words how achingly beautiful the backdrop was. It often felt so surreal at times.

The Arrival
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With the destination almost within reach, your energy levels start to increase once more. It starts with spotting a single car that you just know is heading to the same place. Slowly but surely, the frequency increases until you’re part of a convoy without even realising it.

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A blue sign never looked so good. It was approximately six hours from landing in Münich before turning off the motorway for Wörthersee, a drop in the ocean compared to the journeys of others, but man did I feel every single mile of it.

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When you’re tired and hungry, the last thing you want to do is sit in traffic. But at Wörthersee, traffic isn’t really traffic. It’s like your own personal mobile car show as countless modified and enthusiast owned cars file past.

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Honestly, my original intention was to head to bed and get some rest before tackling my Speedhunter duties for the rest of the week. Instead, I ended up getting sucked in.

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I’m still not sure why this happens or how it all comes about. I mean, there are plenty of great car shows the world over, but none attract this sort of a turnout weeks before it’s due to take place.

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The entire town and surrounding area is transformed into an almost modified-cars-only area. It’s so strange driving past a convenience store where the car park is full of cars that would break necks at at your average show. Yet, this is the norm here.

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Whilst the entire happening might be better known for its aesthetic qualities, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fair representation from the performance side either.

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Sitting in my hotel room, with the balcony door open, I can hear the distinctive sounds of big power cars echoing across the lake. Everything from the bangs of anti-lag systems to the familiar pop of dual-clutch upshifts.

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Nothing feels out of place here.

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You have everything on display from subtly tuned performance cars to air-cooled classics, from all-out stance cars to supercars roaming the streets.

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Regardless of your preferences, I guarantee you would find something at Wörthersee that will you will fall head over heels in love with. Guarantee. I know I have done at least 10 times already.

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It’s my aim over the next few days to document everything that is good about Wörthersee for you. Rather than just talking about it, I’m going to show you why this is one of the greatest automotive events on earth. Essentially, this is the GTI of car happenings. It does everything and does it very, very well.

We’re only just getting started…

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: @pmcgphotos
Twitter: @pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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Jeroen Willemsen

YES, YES, YES, can't wait for the other features!

Gianluca FairladyZ

@Paddy: Say hello to Buni and Roland mate, they've built a fantastic red Audi R8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


What I would give to live 3 hours away from there again. Oklahoma ain't cuttin it! Hope to head back to Europe again when I'm done here.


Can not wait for the rest of the coverage. One of my favourite events!

Bring it on guys


A festival for stupidly low, stock cars, yay.
And i do have a new Polo.. Like them, but the wörthersee is just a celebration of nonsense.


@Frozenstar Somebody knows fuck-all about the See.


@Frozenstar stupidly low, stock cars? how can a car be stock and modified to be stupidly low? worthersee isn't nonsense, your sentence is nonsense mr!


@Frozenstar Don't critisise what you don't understand, Worthersee is so far removed from what you think it is.


I love the coverage of your trip. The whole behind the scenes part of this article just put my mind on a road trip even though I'm physically stuck behind a computer in a cubicle. Awesome story, can't wait to see the coverage of the event! Pure euro.


It's weird that there are Aldi's in Germany.


Leebea W Aldi is actually a German based company. I used to work with a German scientist, here in the states, and he LOVED to go there, and I was all like "it's just Aldi's" haha, That's the reason you can get all of the really good German chocolates at Aldi's as well

gaggle o geese

You got Atlanta pretty close...


The GTI is an awesome car, and I say that owning one myself. Nevertheless, I don't know how you managed to keep it at 6,7L/100, especially doing 200+ speed peaks.

Mine is around 10-11L/100, and I don't even drive that hard :) ! One you enter a town center, it's dead.

That said, that was a great article, thanks a lot !


Yeah, its just abominations that have basically nil suspension travel, need 6 hours to go over a damn speedbump. No speedhunting done here mister


Great article Paddy!
So I think JDM's are not welcomed there? :)


SeBaBunea I live near the Wörthersee. GTi's started the thing years ago and other brands were not welcome but this is the past. Now, everybody is welcome even if the Volkswagen brands are still outnumbering every other brand.


Leebea W thats by far the weirdest comment I've ever read on SH, Aldi is just the most normal thing here in Germany


@etoomeyaacc @Leebea W  and Hofer coffee:))


Austria has to be the most stunningly beautiful country in Europe. The beers great too haha. I have to motivate myself to learn German and move back over there


Great article paddy , but dont play with your camera while driving ;)


Hey a little off topic. I just moved to Germany form Australia permanently (at this stage). Does anyone know where I can find a comprehensive list of car shows such as this in Europe?


WillAnton I don't know any lists, but I highly recommend Essen Motorshow! :D


@Sum Yung Gai lol, I think you've come to the wrong site man. You're looking for Stockhunters. "Nothing but bog standard beige from around the globe".
ps. You should really read up on air suspension too...


My thoughts exactly..
Bags or coilovers a set of wheels aaaand lots of scraping. Thats gotta be up there with the lamest of lame.
We just dont get the 'scene'. And by that i mean we're not scene whores hahaha


Great article! Looking forward to more. :)


What a car that works? not a Gti.


JustinOdijk I figured he was holding it in his mouth and using his nose/and or tongue to work the shutter. 
perfectly legal I'm sure.... :)


Ofcourse why didnt i think of that !


WillAnton Tuning World Bodensee, Sport Auto High Performance Days are awesome. Other than that there's about a Million other ones... There's one looooong list in the description of this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/316279871890131/


Been around the sights the last two weeks and my head is as blown as you Paddy. Had seen coverage and chose to  ove here for a year to truly see the whole 'festiva' and it was soooo worth it. Everywhere you go its just petrol head onslought. Having to move around with public transport from Klagenfurt means plenty of walking but still easy to get to Mischkulnig, Velden, Faak-Am-See, Reifnitz, Maria Worth, Pyramidkogel etc. Dont for a second this is a purely stance boys paradise though. There supercars floating about in packs, a group of 8/9 Muscle cars passed on the road yesterday, theres all kinds of JDM machinery around like GTR's, Supras, Evo's, Impreza, S-Bodies and some stupidly fast modded road cars. Hope you caught up with the Donkey Tec boys Paddy. Nothing quite like a stock looking Mk2 Golf running upwards of 750 BHP hahaha


Gianluca FairladyZ This the car mate?? Plenty of great looking R8's around at the min


Super keen to hear more about this! It's already on my must do list.


While this is pretty cool, still this video is way cooler - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cuHZ6QxqTs


Small typo, "For me, there is no other car than can so many things, so well."

Gianluca FairladyZ

CIAND0N Gianluca FairladyZ  no not that one! you'll notice the diffrence pretty fast between your photo and the one i mean


@andrew84555 Thank you :)


Gianluca FairladyZ CIAND0N I think I might know the one your talking about now. Big mad sorta turbofans and the look of a hover car???


gaggle o geese techincally SOWO is in Helen, probably head out next year. I'm from Florida, so i have a lot of friends that go every year and usaully get a cabin


Lost1 SeBaBunea Nice! Thing is I saw a Subaru Impreza in Paddy's new article about Worthersee... Now my mind is at peace!


Infidel382 WillAnton Yep unfortunately just missed it. Arrived in Berlin the week it was on. On the to-do list for next year though.


SaschaGoerner WillAnton Nice. Thanks


The whole behind the scenes part of this article just put my mind on a
road trip even though I'm physically stuck behind a computer in a
cubicle. Awesome story, can't wait to see the coverage of the event!
Pure euro.


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