For many years, VWs have been enthusiasts’ vehicles, witness the huge number of Beetle owners world-wide who make the effort to join VW Clubs and take part in organized events. But even the Beetle craze has been overtaken by the fanatical following of GTI owners. In Germany, almost every large town has a GTI Club and in both Holland and Germany there are Scirocco Clubs to cater for the VW coupe as well. Germany also has a few Golf Cabriolet Clubs for open air fans, and we will probably see Corrado Clubs starting up before long.
The Americans tend to integrate GTI enthusiasm into their normal VW Clubs but in Britain there is the GTI Drivers’ Club and Club GTI while the hard-core South Africans have the very active GTi Club of SA. Club gatherings in all countries range from a monthly regional get-together for drinks and car talk to full-blown events at racing circuits. But the most spectacular GTI events occur at an international level. These tend to involve the VW importer and main dealers in the host country and are professionally organized, with technical lectures, exhibitions, film shows, sprints and slaloms.
The most famous of these giant GTI gatherings is the annual GTI Treffen (Convention) at Maria Worth on the edge of the Worthersee, a lake in Southern Austria. The first of these events in 1982 started off quite innocently as a small gathering of GTI enthusiasts. The meeting was a success and Volkswagen fuelled the fires by circulating details of the 1983 event to VW owners in Germany and Austria. Nearly 800 cars turned up for the second event. The scale of the event took it beyond club-level organization, and so Volkswagen took over the logistics in association with the local tourist board. The numbers of cars and people attending has been growing every year, and in 1985, the cars attending produced a six mile long GTI traffic jam. Last year, with a record number of 1,160 cars at Maria Worth including a contingent from the British Club GTI, a monument to the GTI was carved out of stone by a group of craftsmen.
Another growing event is GTI International which is organised by Volkswagen Audi Car magazine in the UK. In its second year in 1989, GTI International moved to the Transportation and Road Research Laboratory in Crowthorne, Berkshire, and under brilliant May sunshine, was a stunning success with 1,000 cars turning up over the weekend. The test establishment has a huge car park with room for slaloms and handling tests and there is a timed quarter-mile sprint, concours d’elegance, technical seminars, exhibitions and displays. In 1990 there will also be a sound-off competition for cars with customized audio systems. In 1989, several participants came over from Germany and as the fame of this event spreads, it could well equal the GTI Treffen in attendance in the years to come.
©Ian Kuah. This article was published with explicit permission from author Ian Kuah