A couple of weeks ago Nigel, the man primarily behind the Dubshed brand, rang to ask if I would be willing to film the return of Ireland's largest modified car show for the brand. While I agreed, I was a little apprehensive about the task, knowing the skill it would require to pull off.
Similarly, I think if you had asked Nigel on the eve of the show, he would have felt a similar apprehension because the weekend that would follow was arguably one of the most anticipated weekends for modified car lovers in over two years.
Dubshed has always been one of the first dates that is penned in the calendar each year, a proper can't-be-missed show that sets the tone for a season of car culture. Over the years, Dubshed has gone through a transformation of sorts with it beginning to embrace all European marques first and then opening its arms to all brands of vehicle.
Paddy has documented the knock-on effect this has had on the show and the reasons why it was done so head to Speedhunters to read his views however, while I loved the Dubsheds of old and the exclusivity towards German brands, I can see why the decision was made. To be honest, I'm not sure this show would survive if it hadn't.
However, from a personal perspective, I left the Eikon on Sunday evening feeling a little sad as the show felt like it had become somewhat commercialised and the soul of past Dubsheds definitely has been lost. There's a good reason for this, though. and it bares absolutely no reflection on the organisers and the effort they put in to expand the brand.
So what's caused it? Well, a car show is only as good as the cars on display and this year it was pretty noticeable that the VAG / Euro crew had dropped the ball. For years, this scene dominated modified car culture in Ireland but the tide is definitely shifting towards the Japanese and the incredible machines that are making their way from the land of the rising sun to Irish shores.
There's a number of reasons for this, namely the rising cost of ownership (that's a topic for another day) but I couldn't help but feel the enthusiasm to build and show high quality euro cars just isn't there anymore.
Perhaps it's because we live in an age of instant success and impact that lasts for literal seconds before the next fad begins. The folk willing to put in the considerable time and effort to build a high quality car are well and truly in the minority now. These 'car enthusiasts' would rather cause a stir on social media for 1,000 likes than suffer the headaches of building a car to impress. And yes, I use inverted commas.
Look, it's not all doom and gloom and this years Dubshed was anything but. Having said all I've said, I still can't complain about this past weekend. It was excellent.
Hats off to GTINI because it can't have been easy to pull this off after a two year hiatus. Nigel had been telling me the costs of running the show had gone up, far above budget and causing issues they had never experienced before. So even though we have our thoughts on Irish car culture, we have to tip our hat to these guys who make the effort to improve it.
So to round this column of nonsense out, I think I'll highlight some personal favourites from the show. These cars aren't show stoppers by any means but they all embody the good style and uniqueness that I bang on about so often and lust after in modified car culture. It also helps that the majority of them are classics too.
First up is Barrys 2F Polo. Ever since watching John Ludwick build his 2F for Alpine Volks Fair last year, I've had a soft spot for the second generation Polo. I spotted this build taking shape on Instagram and was looking forward to seeing it in person. Barry has executed it perfectly with a stunning coat of paint and 15" BBS RMs.
The next car that caught my attention was Jacks bagged Porsche 944. While the 944 is a bit of an ugly duckling in comparison to its famous cousin, Jack has embraced the boxy nineties design and added a spicy set of OZ Futura tucked up under the arches. Simple yet perfect style.
It's a bizarre situation when not one but two Polos make it into this list - I think that might say more about my taste than anything else - but Grahams 6N wears possibly the best colour I've seen on a car in a very long time. Dragon Green is one of those metallics that absolutey explodes when light hits it and I'm looking forward to hopefully shooting this one on a nice summers day very soon.
Some cars just stand out from the rest when it comes to the level of perfection and execution on display and this MK1 was certainly one of those. The owner doesn't drive it very often and while that is a crying shame, it's hard to ignore the fact that the quality of this restoration would be somewhat ruined by Irish roads.
Rememer what I was saying about the current crop of enthusiest having no interest in building an out and out show car? This is what I'm on about.
Finally, my car of the show is a bit of an odd one because it was barely even in the show at all. I caught a glimpse of this 964 as it pulled in on Sunday morning and made a mental note to find it later in the day. I don't think anything comes close to a 964 sat on BBS E28 magnesium wheels with a purposeful interior and bored out 3.8 hanging off its rear. It's a proper clubsport build with all the right components which the owner tells me is used regularly. We've been discussing a full day shoot on this car so I'm looking forward to that in the coming weeks.
For me, this is the pinnacle when it comes to cars.
I want to close out this lengthy post by saying a huge thank-you to the people who make Dubshed what it is. Without their effort the car scene would be signifigantly worse off so it's important to note our appreciation.
Now, time to try and make this video...
Event: Dubshed 2022
Location: Eikon Exhibition Centre, Lisburn