Friday, October 5, 2007

Dubbers Unite for H20 International... and I'm not talking Bush-Boosters

... more specifically V-Dubbers, the fanatical members of the Volkswagen tuning lifestyle. H20i is an annual event held in Ocean City, Maryland bringing together thousands of enthusiasts in a clusterfudge of speed and style. VW enthusiasts are typically divided between fans of the older air-cooled models (Beetle, Microbus, etc.) and the newer, more modern water-cooled examples. The latter being the obvious theme for this show, not to mention the source of its name... along with New Jersey's Waterfest held earlier in the year.

Though I wasn't able to make it to this year's show, I was there for the 2006 edition and the scale and scope of the event completely blew me away. Throughout the weekend, Ocean City's infamous Coastal Highway is clogged with gleaming, hissing, farting, chassis-scraping German (and Mexican) modified metal in tastes ranging from the handsome to the hash-induced.

You’ll find a wide range of tuning styles here too. Big now in the US is OEM+, a look defined by modifying VW cars with equipment (especially wheels) from the higher-end marques that reside within Volkswagen’s vast empire, e.g. Audi, Porsche, Bentley and even Lamborghini. The key to the popularity of this style is that many of Volkswagen’s subsidiaries tend to share some fundamental architecture specifications, (wheel bolt-patterns for example) therefore making cross-brand part swapping a largely plug-and-play affair. This by no means implies affordability mind you. OEM parts can be extremely expensive when purchased directly from the manufacturer, especially the Mulliner Edition Bentley Continental GT wheels pictured below on the white GTI (below top). This has lead to the booming business of OEM replica wheels. Now instead of dropping $3500 on 4 real Lamborghini Gallardo front wheels for your GTI (yes they do fit) you can have a set of identical replicas for half that much (below 2nd).

Another trend gaining popularity in the US is the rat style, which originated with American hot rods and spread to Europe where it was translated onto their domestic machinery. The look can more or less be described as souped-up junker (below 3rd). Cars sporting mismatched matte finish or even rusted body panels, and widened versions of steel wheels like the one under the floor of your trunk get the spotlight here. Usually applied to older cars that weren't in very good shape to begin with, it has also been inflicted upon brand new cars… much to the chagrin of the occasional unknowing onlooker. They can’t usually wrap their heads around why you’d strip the hood of a new car down to bare metal and leave it out in the rain for 2 weeks.

If there’s one thing you’ll find common to near every modified VW, it’s a dumped suspension (below 4th). Air-ride is making strides in the scene, but a traditionalist will tell you that coilovers are the only way to roll low. The buzz words lip, stretch, and tuck are all at work here. The old adage goes, “You ain’t Dubbin’ unless you’re rubbin.”

The magnitude of this show must truly be seen to be believed (below bottom). You don't have to be a hardcore Dubber either, anyone can appreciate the diverse creativity of these it's at the beach and just happens to be a hell of a lot of fun.
[Photo Source: The members of]

1 comment:

Terry G. said...

I love the ingenuity of VW owners. Want uber-sweet wheels from some other car? F-in put 'em on if they fit! While Honda fanboys (myself included) worry about things like matching center caps and JDM wheels that cost the equivalent of several kidneys, VW owners unabashedly display high-end rims and keep their source conspicuous. Oh, and these rides look so damned money.