I’ll save any smart introductions and just say this: I have never experienced a car show quite like XS CarNight before.
A quick browse of their Instagram and you might think that XS is a subtle affair, what with minimalistic post layouts and some fairly classy photos. You might also assume that being held in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, all you’d see is a range of VW Golfs. I really didn’t know what to expect going in, but within seconds of meeting XS head honcho Andy Füllborn, it became pretty clear that the night was going to be just as much a party as it was a car show.
In truth, XS CarNight Wörthersee was a battery of the senses at first. This was a busy show. Just after opening there was a swarm of people in and around every car. Speaking of which, Saj and I were practically drowning in a sea of metal, all of it precious.
We decided pretty quickly that we’d need to split up to cover the whole event, and even then it was a struggle. Starting outdoors between the five show halls, the quality was already evident.
Being the wheel addict that I am, there were a trio of cars outside that grabbed me from the get go. A Volvo 480ES is a rare sight at the best of times, but one laid out on a set of custom-converted Centra Space rims? Definitely unique. Added style points for being the only Volvo ever produced with pop-up headlamps too.
The theme of custom OEM split rims continued with this VW Corrado on a set designed to resemble the factory G60 wheels, albeit with more concave than a moon crater at the rear.
The most intricate set of split rims I have seen graced this Audi S6 Avant. I may be an old school guy when it comes to car modifications – especially wheels – but these were just sublime.
Saj had his eye on a pair of very tidy Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTIs on timeless sets of BBS wheels – RS models for the silver car and LMs for the red one.
Meanwhile, hidden round the side was a stunning green BMW E28 520i. Green paint, green interior, wooden steering wheel and copper accents on the BBS RS wheels – what a classy machine.
It was much the same indoors. Every hall we entered seemed to be packed with some of the tidiest examples of car models we’ve come across.
I never dreamed I’d see a stanced Mercedes 280 SL ‘Pagoda’, so I couldn’t get enough of this thing. High on my list of the most beautiful cars ever designed, look how narrow the 280’s belt line is; so sleek and slender. Incredible.
It could hardly be more juxtaposed by the murdered-out Subaru Impreza WRX STI across the entrance from it. I am an Evo man through and through, but it looked so bullish in gleaming black that I had to give it a second glance.
Speaking of Evos, in Hall 1 was the Subaru’s bitter rival: A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII, rather appropriately in all white. I’ll be honest, between the two, the Subaru may have just had the edge in my book. Which would you choose?
Or how about some rear-wheel drive, rotary-powered JDM flavour? This black FD3S Mazda RX-7 looked fantastic on three-spoke Work Equip Voggards.
Title sponsor Opel brought out a selection of amazing racing machines from different eras. The DTM Astra was achingly cool with its bubble-shaped roof, crazy arches and ATS race wheels, but it couldn’t hold a candle to its forebear; the Opel Omega EVO 500 DTM.
Not to be confused with the Lotus Carlton here in the UK (as I may have been), the EVO 500’s reputation is legendary for being flung around German race tracks against the much smaller BMW E30 M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth Evo. This is a tank of a car, most recognisable in its heyday ATS or Jägermeister race liveries. How cool are those adjustable wing stays? A prime case of function over form.
Hall one itself was a sight to behold, with a giant installation in the middle of the room, suspending huge digital screens in the air for all to see. Not only were the screens playing car content on repeat, but with techno music blasting throughout the entire event, the mood was certainly that of a car party. The DJ may be relieved to hear that his efforts paid off.
In the corner of Hall 1 was an E38 that I have been following on Instagram for a long time now. Being an E38 owner myself, I rarely get excited by them any more, but one as clean as this was too good to miss.
Saj was also able to live out his S-chassis dreams vicariously through this classic S15 Nissan Silvia Spec-R on Work Meister wheels combo.
Retro VW styling was surprisingly prevalent in the halls, with some notable examples representing the best trends of the past three decades. A pair of Mk2 Golfs best represented the switching of the guard from wild, ’90s colours and modifications to the mid-to-late-2000s approach of smoothing absolutely all the things.
Having the fuel filler hidden behind the taillight was ridiculously good, but there was something about the brazen colour scheme of the Rallye headlight car that had a real charm to it.
There is only one car that could take the crown of the show for me and that was this absolute animal of a Mercedes-Benz – the W126 Koenig Specials SEC. The phrase ‘never meet your heroes’ is utter nonsense in this case, and I’d been waiting for the chance to see one for years. Obnoxiously large, questionably tasteful yet sitting on road-roller-esque BBS RS wheels, oh so stylish. It was everything I’d hoped it would be in person and more.
And if we’re discussing style, I don’t know what they’ve been drinking, but some people seem to have started fitting BBS Motorsport wheels to totally inappropriate luxury cars.
Would madame rather the SEC on BBS E50s or the Audi A8 on 20-inch BBS E19s? Yes you’re right, the weather is good, take the Audi as it’s on Toyo Proxes R888Rs! This pair were absolutely ridiculous and I love them.
And therein lies the beauty of XS CarNight – at least in my opinion. Yes, the atmosphere was great, the music was loud and the beer flowed. All of that is good, but without an open mind none of it would mean anything.
XS CarNight Wörthersee is a total blend of classes and styles. In what world do you see a stanced Mercedes Pagoda next to a track-ready WRX STI, across from a Porsche 911 GT3 RS 991.5? In the world that Andy has managed to cultivate, which attracts spectators from all over the globe.
It also attracts exhibitors from all over Europe and beyond. Seeing the cars all rushing to leave in the dark was an incredible sight. The only thing I can even compare it to is a Need for Speed online lobby; that’s how varied the cars were. Swiss, German, British, Austrian, Polish – the list of licence plates just went on and on.
It may have been exhausting, but it’s an experience I’ll never forget. XS CarNight is one hell of a show, and if you ever have the chance to go to one, take it.
We have more on the way from this event, but in the meantime there’s a huge gallery for you to check out below.
Additional Photos by Saj Selva