It’s been about five years since I attended my first Dubshed event, which was then located in the heart of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It really captured my heart; the sprawling show was spread throughout the grounds of King’s Hall, with several huge areas that you had to explore. Cars were tucked away in different buildings, some obvious and some easy to miss.
But in the years that followed, with the global financial crisis at full swing the quality at the show seemed to fall away. It was the same thing at the majority of shows around the world, but credit to GTINI, the organisers of Dubshed – they somehow managed to make the show happen every year.
I always felt though that the event never quite lived up to the excitement I felt that first time. That’s a completely subjective marker to judge something by, I know.
For 2016, the event has changed venues for what I believe to be the first time, although I’m open to correction. And for the first time since the other first time, I felt that excitement return again. Although this time it was more about the cars, than the venue itself.
There’s no question that things have changed quite a lot over the years, but this was also an event where I found myself reflecting on things and thinking about the future of the VW scene as a whole. I’ll try not to get too emo with this, but no promises…The Maze
One thing that I didn’t realise about Dubshed’s new venue was that it used to be the site of the Maze Prison (the H-Blocks), an infamous prison during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. In the distance, the remaining buildings and a watchtower or two remain, protected by a conservation order. It brings me quite a huge amount of joy that this former place is now the location of a car show which unites enthusiasts on either side of the border, regardless of creed; and long may it continue to do so. Cars truly are the great common ground.
One thing that’s not lacking at the new Eikon Complex, is space. This has opened up new territory and opportunities for the GTINI crew, although it was a struggle to properly utilise the outside areas this year due to inclement weather. Still, between permanent structures and some temporary ones, there was more than enough room to explore without getting too wet in the process.
For the first time, the organisers opened up Dubshed to non-VW Group cars which were allowed in the main hall. This unfinished BMW E21 grabbed a lot of attention across both days.
The rough exterior was contrasted with a smoothed and tucked bay. The engine was suspicious though; despite wearing a BMW cover, I think it’s more likely to be of Scandinavian origins. One to watch going forward.
One car that may have gone unnoticed by some was Niall Gerety’s MkV Jetta. You might be thinking that this is just another bagged VW with Rotiforms, and to a point, you would be right.
That is until you realise that he’s converted the car into being the world’s first MkV Jetta coupe. This wasn’t just a case of welding and smoothing the rear doors either, the work involved in this conversion is immense. As I said to Niall, regardless of whether you like it or not, you have to respect the craftsmanship in something like this. It’s builds like this that really help the VW scene stand out as a whole.
It’s a huge amount of work, an absolute monumental undertaking for a very subtle result.
At the other side of the hall, this Mk6 GTI race car caught my attention, for rather obvious reasons. This is an actual competition car and not a show car inspired by track aesthetics. It’s based on an ED35 GTI and is running a fairly humble setup; a re-map, some light induction and exhaust work help the car to around 350hp whilst still using its original DSG gearbox. I’ll have to get along to a round of the Irish Touring Car Championship at some stage to see this in action.
The gratuitous use of carbon fibre throughout the interior excited me in ways that probably shouldn’t be normal, those full carbon door cards in particular.
On the subject of performance, an 1/8th mile drag strip was setup out the back. It was a single lane and a non-prepped surface, but it provided some solid entertainment.
One of the quickest cars on the day was this MkII Golf Syncro. It may have looked tame on the outside – the tow hitch is a non-ironic addition – but it was certainly an eye opener once it came on boost.
A turbo VR6 powers the 4WD Golf to somewhere around 600hp. I think I’ll need to do a little bit more on this in the future…
Although the drag event was intended more for fun, I think some may have set new standards for weight reduction.
Back inside the main hall, this converted Audi quattro was all sorts of beautiful. It may not have been a genuine SWB car – the front windscreen is a giveaway – but purely from an aesthetics point of view, I think the screen’s reclined angle is visually more pleasing and suits the car better. I would certainly love to have this in my garage until the end of time.
This genuine BMW E30 M3 Evolution, well, there aren’t any words to describe how spectacularly good this was. Completely original and probably even better now than when it rolled out of the factory. Sublime.Upon Reflection
I do really enjoy the VW scene, it’s something that you’re more than aware of at this stage. If anything, it’s just something different from the norm and I enjoy when people take such good care of their cars. It’s the same passion that’s involved, but just channeled into a different area.
The standard of build now is so high too. Sure, there are the guys with a financed car on bags and wheels (which isn’t in itself a bad thing, but is a whole other argument), but a true build involves huge amounts of effort, time, money and patience. This Polo has been constantly evolving for years and what I would consider to be a ‘complete’ build. Everything has been addressed on this car, inside and out.
Of course, there are the classic recipes too. These are timeless and there’s a reason they’re so popular, because they’re pretty much perfect.
However, I think the scene as a whole it as a crossroads.
The standard at the minute is so high, that I think it has become detrimental to the scene. It’s a strange thing to write, but when every car is built to its peak potential and it becomes the norm, it leaves no room for improvement.
When you’ve reached the ceiling, where do you go from there? It makes it incredibly difficult to build a car that stands out.
I’m not writing this out of anger or frustration, and I’m certainly not trying to discredit the work that people put in, but I really think that people now need to consider how they go about building cars in this scene.
This is not a ‘hate’ post either; I love what I see but if anyone had asked me to pick a feature car from here, I would have struggled. Not because the quality wasn’t good enough, but by featuring one car, you’re not featuring another.
What a strange complaint and I’m going to stop there. It’s a very first world problem when there’s too much choice.
But what was really interesting at Dubshed wasn’t in the main hall – it’s what was tucked away in a separate area under a temporary roof. The inclusion of a non-German section was a bold move by the organisers and something that I’m sure caused an argument or two. The addition of these cars however has given Dubshed a whole new dimension whilst maybe stealing a little bit of thunder from right under the VW scene’s nose.
Part two is coming soon…
More air cooled!!!
Hey i got my car in here too.... ( Sad I know ,, But excited ) . Have to say i really enjoyed the read ... Think ya covered all bases.... But do i take it your a bit more "old school" than new age ??? Would be more old school and standard myself : D
Stacks on a caddy pickup????
What's under the hood, dare I ask?
Whats the blue Opel car that looks like a torana in the 21st bonus image?
Things that don't belong in a Rotiform wearing, air bagged car = Bride seats and a roll cage.
That Auto Finesse Golf is sick
More details on the sacked 8 series please (2016-Dubshed-by-Paddy-McGrath-96). Drool.
In terms of the VAG>Import (American and Japanese), I can only hope things evolve to further the quality of the builds in conjunction with performance and utilisation.
Tomo Pattison which car?
Really curious about the work done to the coupe jetta..
I really want to see full feature for the green Jetta Coupe ... and I must say it looks very much like that's how it come off the production line ! I wonder if it use front doors from Golf 3-doors ? Either way it was nicely done !
Any more photo for the "LS1 623" Golf GTi Mk1 ? For awhile I thought it have a 623hp LS1 in it , lol .
@SwampDonkey A second-generation Opel Ascona
Wait. Is that underglow I see peaking out from the jetta coupe?
Aside from that Mk 2 Golf with those 3-spoke wheels, everything kinda looks the same everytime..Although that can be said about the whole industry, from euro to jdm.. it's all getting a bit booring. Try checking out some other scenes.. East Europe has some curious stuff going on. And i'm not saying that because i'm Romanian
hcram39 Its actually a first generation Ascona, the orange one is
Where is the aristo ;( ?
@Mk1 The Heartbreaker!
Good report of what turned out to be another brilliant show. Nice to see a picture of my Golf included. U0001f60a
That E30 M3 Evo is beautiful to say the least
RDS It's LSI 623, an old Irish registration number
I love the MK3 golfs, don't know why but they look awesome, the mk1 is too simple and the 2 is almost there but the 3 has that overtly chunky retro look to them that i love.
iProGam3r MKIII Golfs are a thing again. I'm more of a MKII man, but I can see the appeal.
LucasHubmann Next post
BacumStefan You're quite right, it's just very hard / expensive to get to these places.
Jagdroach Underglow is also a thing again.
@Mk1 I'll have to catch him for a feature at some stage, but I can already hear the keyboard warriors amassing in their ranks...
sbradley237 Agreed. The Caddy is awesome too, quality stand.
Bro5 *in your opinion.
kphillips9936 It was down every time I passed it!
nakgti I think that's fair enough, although my own car is in the bonus images so I guess I'm a little bit of both.
I have no idea about plane tickets and stuff, but you have a guy reporting from Ireland (wink). A trip from Ireland to eastern Europe is quite do-able. Not saying guys from the US should jump on a plane to Russia or whatever. Just my 2 cents.
I must admit though, some builds may not be as impressive but are quite unique in some cases.
PS great coverage
What is the red VW in the bonus pics, 25 from the top, 2016-Dubshed-by-Paddy-McGrath-42 ??
Im not too clued up on euro models, we never got the Corrado or Scirocco mk1 and mk2...
I just don't understand this scene. I continue to struggle to connect with VW/Euro enthusiasts. These care are all seemingly "built" using the same formula...dump it and put some "Bling" wheels on it. Very little emphasis is put on performance. It seems the purpose of this type of build is to build a statue of a car.
Paddy McGrath LucasHubmann OH YES Good Coverage
S_Stewart Im in the same boat. I don't mind if someone wants to emphasize looks, but if they put no effort into performance I don't really accept it. These vws are pretty much all carbon copies of each other.
HunterHunted It's a MKII Polo G40 (I think!)
Love the stock MK1 with the Pirelli wheels, classic
Don't feel so bad. When it comes to creative expression, there is no ceiling, it will expand laterally. It's not just about what parts are installed and how high and which way you get horsepower. Sure, all of this is high quality work and there is a lot of money showing but it wont stop here. Pure handiwork and simple taste will be just as attractive as a checkbook build. I love that 2 dr jetta, btw; I had a moss green '71 opel 1900 4 dr (that blue one) as my first car also.
CharlesChris15 S_Stewart they want upvote in reddit/vwvortex
No other purpose
AdrianMcGrillen hcram39 True! I actually double-checked it and thought I was writing first, but seems like I was pretty tired when writing it. Sorry!
I'm not that into VAG, but you're right, gotta appreciate that coupe conversion Jetta. Stuff like that keeps me coming back to speedhunters. Keep up the great work!
S_Stewart Will we all just ignore the G60 swapped mk1, the 16v G60 mk1, the 600bhp 20vT 4x4 mk1, the various 20vT mk2, the 540bhp 24vT swapped mk3, the 300bhp diesel mk5, the abf swapped mk1 on carbs, the big turbo td mk3, (nevermind the standard swapped cars like my own from 8v gti to vr6 or the more modern stuff focusing more on software)? Did you attend the show?
ConnorMcCann S_Stewart I did attend and if you did then you can surely agree that S_Stewart isn't far wrong basically it was hundreds of very shiny, bagged cars there were exceptions but that was the overwhelming theme. It was very "sceney", instagrammy, who had the shiniest, lowest car type thing. It seems like the VAG scene is the MaxPower scene of the 90's-00's.
Personally I believe the scene is summed up by the type of vendors that were at the show there were more car cleaning product vendors there than I even knew existed...
Credit to you Connor and the others that stood out but there was a lot more same than different...
NFSNL Those golfs
NFSNL thx for article guys, iam a huge VW and concern fan
the car was very good
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Oh my God my car finally made it on SpeedHunters I could genuinely cry.
I'm really glad you included yours in it too. I wasn't sure if you were going to...
Now, if you wanna see some real action, make sure and make it to our drag day in August...