Just as it is across the globe, here in South Africa there’s a massive enthusiast following for the Volkswagen and Audi brands.
Those who get into the VW Group scene usually find it hard to leave, often changing out their cars for a newer models or simply adding to the collection. My first car was a Citi Golf and I’m now onto my fifth VW, so I can be considered a fan too. That said, I was in good company when I recently attended the 13th annual VDUB Camp Fest – an event to South Africa what Wörthersee is to Europe.
VDUB Camp Fest has be held at a number of different venues over the years, but for the last few it’s called the Warmbaths resort in Bela Bela, Limpopo Province home.
This is a two-day event attended by a large amount of people with their modified cars in tow. Obviously the event couldn’t take place in 2021, so with a year skipped – and therefore more time to build cool stuff – I was really interested to see what people turned up with.
Despite the extra time to prepare, when it comes to custom cars, ‘last minute’ is always the name of the game. I became part of this statistic, as my own Caddy was only finished the night before the event. Doing a wrap and custom machining and painting wheels in three days probably wasn’t the most clever idea, but hey, I made it.
The centrepiece of the event is a stage complete with a mirror-topped vehicle turntable to give the judges a look at the undersides of the cars vying for show prizes. The judging panel includes some local VW aficionados plus international guest Jamie Orr, who makes the long trip over from the USA every year.
While there are many people who enter their cars in the competition side of VDUB Camp Fest, there are just as many who simply turn up for the relaxed atmosphere and good company.
Even though its mostly VW and Audis in attendance, the variety of models representing these two brands is great. There’s everything from old school stuff to the latest and greatest VW Group offerings, and I’d say 90% of them are on air too. Going back a few years, most cars were running static suspension setups, so the tables have definitely turned in that respect.
This triple stack – a bagged T6 Kombi towing a bagged trailer carrying a bagged Mk7 Golf GTI – was so cool. I really like how the theme was carried across.
This 997 Carrera S owned by Vic Pardal, the event’s MC, made quite a stir as the first bagged 911 in the country. The conversion was completed by The Lowdown Co., the same guys currently bagging Project LS for me.
This R32-swapped Citi Golf is a previous ‘Best of Show’ winner at VDUB Camp Fest, and you can clearly see why. Its custom-modified RAYS Volk Racing wheels, perfect engine bay and other small details prove that less is sometimes more.
Recaro Wingbacks have become more and more popular in the VW and Audi modifying scene, and with that their values have increased considerably in South Africa. They came in a plethora of colours and finishes at VDUB Camp Fest 2022, my favourite being the brown pair.
They were fitted in this beautifully done Mk4 Golf GTI-R, a factory model that I believe was only sold in South Africa.
The Citi Golf, a slightly more modern version of the iconic Mk1, was sold and manufactured in South Africa until 2009, and one of the special editions of this car was the Citi 1.8iR. It featured enhanced styling in the form of special bumpers and wider arches, partial leather front seats and aluminium trim on the dashboard. The engine was a 1.8-litre fuel-injected unit producing 90kW (120hp) thanks to an Estas 272-degree cam, Brospeed (Bosal) 4-2-1 manifold and sports exhaust system, plus retuning of its factory Bosch MP9 fuel injection.
It was perfect weather all weekend long, and by that I mean scorching, and skin burned to a crisp even with sunscreen. Nonetheless, everyone who attended enjoyed themselves.
Of course, a few non-VW Group cars managed to sneak in, but hey, what’s the harm?!
Shows like VDUB Camp Fest, although always containing some form of competition, are more about hanging out with like-minded individuals and appreciating each others cars than anything else. There will always be those who build cars just to show them off and compete for trophies, but I’m not sure they’re the people having the best time. If you build your car for your own enjoyment and just come to hang out, enjoying a break from the usual hustle of work and city life, you’re guaranteed a good time. Which is why I’ll definitely be back for more in 2023.