On the morning of the Juicebox BBQ, I didn’t hold much hope for a big turnout. Even by Irish standards, the weather was particularly miserable.
We generally don’t have high hopes for fine days here, but Sunday morning’s deluge was pretty rough. It was that nasty, persistent sort of rain that nobody wants to be outside in. There was probably a certain amount of irony in that the original date for the event (the previous Sunday) had been postponed as the forecast had predicted a shocker. Typically then, that day turned out to be quite nice.
The Juicebox crew don’t normally provide much notice for their event, and this year’s edition was no exception. Invites went out to select people just five days in advance. There are good reasons for this, the main being a limited amount of physical space. I dread to think how many could show up if the event was publicly promoted even a few weeks in advance.
The other reason is a quality control one. The Juicebox BBQ has quickly earned a reputation of assembling Ireland’s finest in one place. There’s no snobbery involved though, and there’s no selection process either. It’s a simple enough system of inviting people with good cars, and asking them to invite anyone they know with good cars. It’s brilliantly self-policing, and it works.
However, standing out of the rain in the doorway to Philip ‘Flip’ Morrissey’s Flipsideauto garage, I still wasn’t feeling confident. On the bright side, I was at least able to enjoy Rob Dunphy’s Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart Version-R.
The thing about the Juicebox BBQ, and what makes it really special, is that it’s an event entirely motivated by passion. There’s no entry fee, there are no trade stalls, and it’s the only car event I know of where the hosts provide free food and drinks. Even the venue is kindly offered by a local business, who go out of their way on the Friday evening beforehand to rearrange the space for the occasion. They have nothing to gain from this, but they still help out. The owners of the business park give their approval, too.
In a world where car enthusiasts and organised meets are being increasingly alienated (and some would say rightly so based on the behaviour of the few), the Juicebox BBQ shows how things can and should be done. It’s about respect and a genuine passion for cars.
As the yard is filled from front to back, early arrivals are not a surprise. There’s no special treatment, save for the local lads who generally get to park nearest the barbecue.
The early rush was expected, but I still wasn’t convinced that this was going to be a packed occasion as per previous Juicebox BBQs. As regular readers will testify to, I am often wrong and this again was no exception.
The steady flow of cars continued pretty much unabated for a couple of hours, packing out the main yard and the overflow between the stacks of timber. I can only add that I have the utmost respect for everyone who woke up on Sunday morning, looked out their window and still decided to get in their car and drive to the event.
As is the way in Ireland, while the event was open to all makes and models, it leaned heavily towards those enthusiasts of a Japanese persuasion. This would mostly be down to the primary focus of Juicebox’s content and YouTube videos, and the lads’ own obsession (putting it mildly) for Japanese cars. I take no issue with this whatsoever.
I’ve always enjoyed Japanese car culture, and I really enjoy the Irish interpretation of it. There’s clearly a lot of love for the late ’90s and early ’00s Japanese approach to modifications and tuning.
For the most part, it nearly all focuses on building cars for the purpose of driving. More often than not, they’re home builds with careful consideration for select, legitimate, period correct parts as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Yahoo! Auctions Japan is one of the most accessed sites from Irish ISPs.
Mind you, it’s not all Japanese. While the German stuff was in the minority, the examples present were well worth a look. This wide-bodied B5 Audi S4 on air was a particular favourite of mine.
Our own Cian Donnellan was the sole French car owner, but his fantastic Peugeot 106 Rallye received as much attention from others as any other car present.
It was my first time seeing a lot of people I know in almost two years, and with that came a number of new builds.
It was bloody marvellous to catch up with everyone, even if it meant maybe not shooting as much as I would have liked. The Juicebox BBQ is a relatively short event, and is one of those ones where you would love to be able to stop time in order to really appreciate everything. I’m sure it’s something that most photographers can relate to.
What often came up in conversation was how much things have changed with regards to vehicle values in recent years. The vast majority of cars present would have been purchased when they were worth a fraction of what they are now. For the most part, future values are irrelevant to a lot of these owners as resale is not why they bought and built their cars.
How this has changed things though, is that traditionally where you’d maybe sell a finished project car and start a new one, a lot more people are taking their cars back to square one and trying a different approach with the exact same chassis. Whether this is a good or bad thing is irrelevant, but I would think that we’re going to see some interesting takes in the future along with cars being built to a higher standard with the benefit of hindsight from the first time around.
After 200 burgers passed over the grille and into the hands of eager guests (I can’t blame them, they were again superb) the cars understandably began to thin out a little, even if the rain was easing.
It was no bad thing, as it gave you a chance to take a closer look at the cars that remained. This Civic was flying so far under the radar that it could have ended up parked outside the event. I need to memorise the registration so I don’t get caught off-guard on the street someday…
With energy levels waning (it had been a long few days at this point), my buddy Ronan Hickey decided to (accidentally) cheer me up by making the ultimate VW owner’s mistake of opening the window while there’s water on the roof.
If you know, you know.
For a day that looked like it was going to be a washout (and by all rights it should have been), it ended up being the busiest Juicebox BBQ so far. From my own perspective, it was exactly what was needed following the last couple of years and our inability to enjoy cars in person.
I know some are still stuck in lockdowns and are/or limited by restrictions, but let me tell you, the wait is worth it. I don’t think I’ll ever take this for granted again.