The End Of The One-Make Car Show?

When it has been over two years since your last major car show, it’s natural to be eager.

While that last show was in a slightly warmer climate for me, I had no issue getting an early start and heading north towards the Eikon Exhibition Centre, just outside of Belfast for Dubshed 2022. It was what we would describe as ‘fresh’ out, along with a couple of downpours to remind me I was still in Ireland.

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For as long as I’ve contributed to Speedhunters, Dubshed has been show that’s catered towards the sharp end of modified car culture on the island. But what was once an exclusive VW Group event, has slowly become more inclusive of other brands, and some people are not happy about this. I can sort of see their point, but I think the organisers are going in the correct direction. Let me explain…

When I first attended Dubshed in 2011, the idea of anything non-VW Group being allowed to exhibit would have been laughed at. Even the eventual inclusion of BMW and other German marques raised an eyebrow or two. The show was held at a different venue back then, which allowed you to explore several enclosed halls and outside areas. It was glorious from both a spectator and photographer’s perspective. It was intimate, varied and rewarded your curiosity and sense of adventure.

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Times change, and the show moved south to its current home at the Eikon a few years ago. While the new venue is much more modern, it doesn’t have the same charm as the old King’s Hall. It does have a seemingly infinite amount of space in comparison, however.

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This is both a blessing and a curse at the same time. While the venue has grown so much, the organisers now have the ability to really expand Dubshed. But I don’t feel that Irish car culture, and in particular the VW scene, has grown enough to keep up with it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of cars here worthy of your attention, but they’re not all necessarily related to the Volkswagen family.

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While some would have found the inclusion of other German makes palatable, the prominent inclusion of Japanese cars from around 2016 ruffled more than a few feathers. The thing is, if you were to remove the non-VW or even the non-German stuff from the show, I’m not sure there would be much left.

In case you’re wondering, that is indeed the Spirit Rei S13 Silvia that Dino spotlighted in Japan nearly seven years ago. It’s still wonderful.

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To be quite honest, some of my personal highlights of Dubshed 2022 were very much not German. Sean Reilly‘s olive green Renault Clio RS 200 on Air Lift Performance suspension was a real standout.

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While there was a lot of very impressive non-VW stuff on display, you could perhaps make an argument that at the very least, there was some VW scene influence present in most if not every car being exhibited.

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Wheel fitment and stance are not exclusive to the VW world of course, but the VW world is (or least should be) about much, much more than just ride height, camber angle and wheel fitment.

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It’s a holistic approach to modifying a vehicle. Wheels, exterior, paint, interior, engine, suspension and personal flourishes should all be considered. Sometimes the modifications are so subtle that only the owner is likely aware of them.

For me personally, it should be so much more than a new car on finance with air suspension and wheels. They’re only two pieces of a much larger puzzle.

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It’s only logical that, in an attempt to stand out from the crowd, previous Volkswagen owners will take what they’ve learned and apply it to a non-VW-badged car.

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It’s also understandable that there are still those who want to push the envelope of a particular make or model. Christian Gale‘s and Jack Fanning‘s MkV Golfs are about as impressive versions of either car that you will ever see. I would be stunned if there was still a standard bolt on either car.

I’m not sure if any amount of photographs will ever do these cars justice, although I will try and arrange something in the future to disprove this theory.

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While I’m aware that out and out show cars aren’t to everyone’s taste, then perhaps something like this 500+hp Edition 30 MkV GTI might be? That’s the beauty of the VW scene; in theory, there should be something for everyone.

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That people are then embracing these various approaches and applying them to whatever takes their fancy should only be welcomed. Cross pollination between the varying automotive sub-cultures is a thing of wonder, and results in builds like John Peden‘s Zetec-powered and custom air suspension-equipped Mk2 Ford Escort.

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It goes both ways, with Japanese influence on German vehicles, too.

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You’ll likely have guessed by now that I personally think this is the way forward, and that ‘one-make’ shows are for the most part, going to become irrelevant. As with everything, there’s always an exception or two, but when you have the same people building the same cars, going to the same car shows where their friends have all built the same cars, it doesn’t lend itself to innovation.

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While there has been, and will continue to be, some hesitation about the continued increase in non-VW and non-German cars at the likes of Dubshed, I hope more people approach these events with an open mind.

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If anything, the situation might lend itself to some healthy rivalry between sub-cultures, and who knows what sort of progress and new ideas could evolve from this.

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Like it or not, it’s not getting any easier to be a car enthusiast or to attract younger people into our world. Cars are more expensive than ever, fuel is as expensive as most of us have ever seen, and that’s before we even have a conversation about burning dinosaur juice in order to drive around in circles and make brum-brum noises.

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We must look like lunatics to the rest of the world, but both you and I know that we love what we love, and we really can’t help ourselves. We should help ourselves though, and I really think that bringing sub-cultures together under one roof is key to that.

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We know it works because you only have to look at the likes of the Players shows in the UK to see how they have gone from strength to strength.

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I know a lot of people who profess to be car enthusiasts, but they’re not really. It would be more accurate to say that they’re Ford enthusiasts or late-’90s JDM enthusiasts, or August 1964 to June 1965 Chevrolet Corvette enthusiasts (but only cars built on a Thursday).

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I’m being hyperbolic of course, but it would be no harm for people who have gone on a deep-dive of a very specific and niche automotive sect, to come up for air and see what everyone else is up to.

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If you’re looking at this coverage and thinking ‘where are the race cars and track cars’, maybe you should consider bringing your race car or track car to a local show. You might enjoy it, you might not. You might learn something, you might not. Most importantly though, you might inspire someone else, someone young, to get started into the automotive life. Some things are bigger than us.

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It would be impossible to create a show or event that pleases everyone. We will never all agree on what is best and that’s absolutely fine. What we could all benefit from is knowing our own tastes, being able to take something away from most situations and knowing that just because we personally don’t like something, doesn’t make it bad.

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It’s also not an organiser’s responsibility to build the cars that make their shows. They just need to create the occasion, and the rest is essentially them shining a spotlight on the current state of car culture. If you don’t like what you see, then take some responsibility and try to do something better rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

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Dubshed is no longer and will likely never be a VW-only show again, and that’s okay. But it’s just a name, and it’s up to us to make the most of it.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



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Finally a motorcycle on SH


I'd happily see one-make car shows evolve into something more diverse, seeing row after row of the same car with the same sort of wheels and other similar mods is so mundane that it makes the show pointless. Give me an event that has an aired out Karmann Ghia sat next to Defender 90 with an extreme body-lift, towering over a PS13 drift car, rubbing elbows with delivery-mileage Escort Cosworth.

Lately, I've found the car parks at track events to be better than any one make show I've been to anyways! Bring the diversity!


A lot of the new muscle car shows are like that. Rows of rows of slightly different challengers and chargers, mustang and Camaros. All about 30% are blacked out.


Couldn't agree more, Paddy. Particularly love that shot of Nigels Corrado. Excellent stuff.

Zachary Kinley

To be honest, I'm glad these types of shows are becoming more inclusive. I believe it leads to a higher turnout with it having more than just 15 submodels of a certain brand.


I love diversity when I go to a show/meet. I want to see something I have never seen before. This is why the cars and coffee format appeals to me.

My suspicion is that the guys at Luftgekuhlt will disagree with us.

David Retro Rides

This has been our argument or at least our stance (no, not that use of stance) since we started RR in 2004. The melting pot is where the interest is at.

Without being trite the whole "be the change you want to see" works for car shows. If you have a race car and you go to a show that has a disappointing (to you) lack of race cars, take yours next time. Can almost guarantee you'll find the following year at least one or two more turn up, and so scenes and sub-scenes build.

I think there are a few "I only like VW's" or whatever make type people around, however if they step out their niche a bit they will usually find something that piques their interest. I think there is a different type of car enthusiast out there though, they are "my car" enthusiasts. They are easy to spot in this day and age, IG feeds that are 100% pictures of their cars, they come back from a show with pictures of their cars at the show. Which is all its own kind of little niche that people end up consumed in.

Also that Grey MG is super.

Kevin Reynolds

This write up is so refreshing. It felt like that elephant in the room was finally talked about! I believe you made a great point in that car shows need to be diverse or they can get stale. Creativity needs inspiration and stimulation and to get that you need to be exposed to the diversity of other car genres. Taking design or idea elements from other groups is key. Seeing Japanese styles cross over to the States and Euro styles cross over to the Japanese scene is awesome. Many shows here in the States are a broad mix of makes, models, styles, and tastes, and that's ok. You look at what interests you and don't look at what you don't care for. But the bottom line is that there is typically something for everybody. I would encourage every car person to venture out and see what's out there and expand beyond your make and model of car. I think you can take either side of the discussion whether the younger gen is still interested. Yes cars are expensive along with other factors - parts, gas, etc. but from what I see posted on these pages are car builders thinking outside the box – going to the much older cars and creating some amazing looking builds. '60s, '70s. '80s cars are all out there waiting for some creative mind to give them new life. I see that more older builds in the Euro and JDM scene but it seems to be creeping into the US too. Lastly, with the dawn of the electric car (for which I completely dislike the thought of) may come a shift in how cars shows evolve. I have seen classic cars converted with electric underpinnings and Teslas racing autocross. I hope that what I see in the pages of Speedhunters postings is a sign that the car scene keeps pushing the envelope. I know as I go through highlights of the latests shows my inspiration level definitely increases – that MK2 Escort and aired-out Porsche 944, jus' saying!


I can respect the exclusivity of it all. There was a time where I was a "BMW guy" and didn't care to congregate with anyone else that didn't drive Bimmers. At this point and at my age, however, I couldn't care less. It's all for the love of automobiles. Nothing wrong with having a litte variation in a one-make car show. If anything, I see it as a nice show of humility and fraternity to have other makes present in a show like Dubshed.


Nice, a necessary and obvious article to spell it out for usually-young, naiive and narrow minds. One make shows peaked every decade since there were enough makes to race against each other in 1910, but 2010 was definitely the swan song. Sure there might be some icon cult members having circle jerks in random parking lots about having their (only, really) "best" car ever made in the 2020's, but as far as populated shows with well thought out events, including all is beyond just "key" - a new normal, expected even. Most older, experienced car nerds wouldn't bother showing up if an event was "for chip-tuned, "stage 2+" germans only" or "slammed JDM only"... But having either/both show up is "typical" when there's enough other stuff, even a oem tesla model 3 but they taped a gurney strip and got a vanity plate sort of "other" would make for enough diversity (for most). Really, it's the feeling of being at an event that has people that enjoy their cars for what they really are, that is the "new key" to events. I've been to events that were basically just Lamborghinis and corvette c8's, few 911's that have been unbearable - the hearts weren't in it so the energy was dull since everyone can afford the other's choice anyways. Same went for a college car club that was 100% wannabe rally racers because their sedans and street cars had pops and bangs/straight pipes, but zero idea who Sebastian Loeb is, or what brake bias does. Problem is few understand the difference between mere taste and Passion, yet most feign passion since it makes them feel their opinions matter when it's all absurd BS - be honest, you just like the boom boom noise and the attention, even if negative, since you're a nobody with no other quality to be noticed. Turn down your noise, shut up, listen instead, and do something important, or at least positive. Like learning to drive rather than insisting on speed because we all have access to throttle.


Paddy, please note that I'm going to be a little hyperbolic in my rebuttal.

1) "Hyper-focused car shows (like SoCalVintage, Luftgekult, Grand National Roadster Show, Low Rider shows, etc.) are a lot of fun BECAUSE they put a microscope on each car. Each builder is inspired to find new and innovative ways to stand out. The result was absolutely incredible workmanship. I'm reminded of your great coverage highlighting absolutely mind blowing details at the older VW-centric shows. This stuff you've shown here are either left-overs from that golden-age of innovation or boring derivatives that only stand out by being a different make/model than the one next to it.

I mean where would the low-rider scene be if they were forced to park next to a late model Passat with wheels and a tune?

A focused show highlights enjoying friendly competition and comradery with like-minded enthusiasts. The result is a higher quality of cars.

2) I don't agree with you "either, or" stance. I like the "why can't we have both" stance.

3) You're implying that a child would only be inspired by a diverse car show. I've experienced the opposite recently, my oldest has become very interested in Cobra kit cars. He'd be much more inspired by a one-make show featuring Cobras vs wandering through a hall to find one or two that were actually interesting to him.

4) Coming up from a deep dive into a particular realm of the automotive world is great! I loved the old Cars and Coffee in Irvine for this very reason. The diversity was fun and awesome. However, sticking those same diverse group of cars into a formally judged "show" situation like DubShed, and the affair seems more like an equity fallacy. The idea that someone could walk out of the show with a trophy for coilovers and wheels while the guy down the way with his ground-up restoration could walk away empty handed seems like an injustice.


These are all quite good points. My own son will come to shows that feature everything but if I say its a lowrider show he runs around the house and gathers all his lowrider hot wheels.

Deep dives into niche subsets are great. The rub, which Paddy mentioned, is the niche in that area needs to be able to support it.

Going to the same show year after year with the same cars does get a bit tired.

Vincent Conker Auger

Hey Paddy, great stuff once again. Like I said on FB recently, I was missing your content on these pages. Glad you are back !

First : The blue 5 series looks as good as ever. Not the first time we have seen it I believe. I remember seeing this one (or one just like it, but I doubt that) in a BMG mag I had bought while traveling in Scotland in 2019. It made me realise that I love E34s.

Secondly, I thought for a second that I was seeing your old GTI when I saw that picture of the Edition 30, until I realised it was an MKV. Are the wheels the same as your bronze ones you still have ?

Lastly, we need more pictures of that old american beauty of a truck please. Got any more to share ?

Can't wait to see your next write-ups Paddy. Have a good one.

Vincent Conker Auger

BMW * my bad...


What a way to ruin a Clio RS...


More about the green Jaguar (Type S I think) please. :)


"where are the race cars and track cars" - This!! And we only have ourselves to blame, I used to take my track car to all kinds of shows it was built to do a job but I saw no reason why it couldn't look good at the same time. A well built track car is just as impressive as a show car build. I would've happily placed my Ford Puma in the middle of that show.

Great shots and some truly stunning cars, my want for another Edition 30 GTI has never been stronger. I'm also looking at my B9 A4 Avant differently now... maybe it does need a nice set of wheels and lowering a bit!


What type of car is the metallic Grey sedan on the white compomotives?