It’s safe to say that car modifying in the UK gets a lot of bad press. There are, of course, some amazing looking machines, but for every one of those, there are a dozen with poorly-chosen modifications.
After spending a day at Treffen, Europe’s biggest VW and Audi show, in Worthersee in Austria, it is great to see the art of modifying is alive and well.
And far from the stereotypical image of a bunch of Novas descending on a deserted supermarket car park, Treffen is a well-organised event that takes over the whole of the pretty town of Worthersee. The atmosphere is more like an American spring break than a posturing modified car show or an edgy cruise.
Such is the scale of the show and the esteem in which it is held, Volkswagen unveiled the Polo WRC Street – soon to be the Polo R hot hatch – alongside some concepts built specifically for the show.
The Max Power scene in the UK, at its height, was all about big wheels, big power and even bigger bodykits. Not so in Europe, where less is usually more.
A Euro car’s signature styling is largely split between old and new cars: old cars generally wear small diameter, wide wheels and quirky, sought-after or rare add-ons are de riguer. Modern cars have fewer rules, so original equipment colour schemes are as popular as matt or two-tone finishes. Even stripping paint off various body panels to display surface rust is common.
Not every car at Worthersee would be to everyone’s taste; indeed not every one was finished to a high standard. But every car displayed a staggering level of creativity. In a homogenised world, the mere fact that these enthusiasts are doing their thing with vision and passion has to be positive.
And the way VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda have embraced the aftermarket is a lesson in engaging and retaining customers. Other car makers should take note.