From the previous day (Saturday 12 August), the internet was alive with teaser snippets of what could be expected, what was already within the exhibition centre and the general vibe leading up to this all-new event was positive.
Being organised by three well-known and well-established local firms – Blackwater Graphics, Blok51 and FittedState – the event was always going to hit the ground running with heavy support from inception by all involved within vast sectors of the motor industry and automotive community.
The morning of the show saw dawn break across the infamous yellow cranes of the shipyard and soon after the signage was in place; some 300 cars started making their way into the venue. Vehicle display was a pre-book affair, with only 100 of those entered able to secure a place indoors.
The team involved in BUILT saw a gap in the Northern Ireland show calendar for an ‘all-age, all-make, all-model’ show for the province to enjoy and with this in mind, the team at BUILT had quite the task to decide what cars were deemed to be a high enough standard to be inside.
I think they got it just right and the other 200 vehicles that displayed outside the main hall were of great quality and variety with everything from race cars to rally cars, performance cars and their big brother supercars alongside off-road vehicles such as 4×4’s and quads, classic/vintage cars and the odd two-wheeled mode of transport thrown in for good measure.
Plenty of entertainment was on hand for the thousand plus people who visited the show via trade stands, a remote control drifting arena hosted by Raceway Drift Club, race simulators, a live DJ and even a rally car livery demonstration by the Blackwater Graphics team.
This graphics demo was carried out on former World Rally Champion, Petter Solberg’s Subaru Impreza S10 WRC ’04 – the exact car he drove to victory in Rally Sardinia in 2004, beating Loeb and Sainz to the top of the rostrum. It was great to see the car being returned to its event winning colour scheme as a tribute to the Norweigan driver.
A huge attraction for many came in the form of autograph sessions from some famous motorsport competitors such as a former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams, current British Superbike Series rider Andy Reid and British Rally Championship driver Jonny Greer.
They were joined by Irish Tarmac Rally Championship drivers Alastair Fisher and Joe McGonigle along with Northern Ireland Rally Championship driver Stuart Biggerstaff – most of whom had their latest machinery on display at the show.
Interviews on-stage with the above sportsmen, hosted by Chris Suitor, proved popular and gave everyone watching an insight into their respective sports, how they got into their sport and also the hardship involved with high level motorsport.
Yours truly even got roped into an interview on how the car scene has changed in the last two decades. Outside, a small off-road display was laid out with a few classic cars in their wings with more vintage vehicles within the entrance foyer.
My favourite of all was the Morris Minor ‘POLICE’ car – a real retro throwback with character. A retro BMX display was also a welcomed throwback for many spectators who started off on two-wheels on such fine chariots.
Such a vast array of automobiles and custom bikes is something that isn’t seen often at an indoor show locally and in a Twitter yarn with Jeremy McWilliams after the show he commented ‘Beautiful show.. Just what Belfast needs’ and I think he has summed the event up perfectly.
With a very laid back atmosphere, it was a relaxing show with everyone mingling and taking an interest in cars or bikes they had maybe never seen or heard of before – there was even a few T-rex’s admiring the machinery on offer.
Some of the cars that stood out to me personally included the silver 1973 Audi Coupe, the wide arched BMW E46 M3 cabrio, the silver VW UP and the two Land Rover Defenders as well as the Metro 6R4 which being chassis 001 was the first works metro rally car built.
The Corry Motorsport MG Midget race car was rather special as was the grey Volvo C30 and Green Mk3 Golf VR6 but for me personally, my favourite of all was the blue over white Chevy pick-up truck, it was nothing short of sublime!
Official judging at the show was carried out by 10 independent enthusiasts and as such ’10 of the best’ were recognised along with a trophy for best outdoor car, BUILT choice and car of the show alongside a WheelWhores sponsored awards of best wheels.
’10 of the best’ awards went to:
Porsche 911 – NLZ20
Audi TT – T1 TTY
Subaru Impreza – 03-LS-3222
Ford Escort Cosworth – OXI 9999
Volkswagen Beetle – NTW 264C
Ford F100 – 917 YUP
Metro 6R4 – A658 NJO
Triumph GT6 – CIJ 9369
VW Golf – L80 WVW
BMW E30 – D513 ABV
‘Best wheels’ went to:
Land Rover Defender – BIG 252
‘Best outdoor’ went to:
Ford Sierra Cosworth – D234 PRO
‘BUILT choice’ went to:
Audi Coupe – VCM 794M
‘Car of the show’ went to:
Ford Escort Mk2 – BKY 172T
Event organisers commented after prize giving “For our first event we thought Built was a huge success. The cars that were on show were first class and there was a great atmosphere about the Titanic Exhibition Centre”. They continued “The judges had a very difficult task. Thank you to everyone who made the show possible”.
Unlike RMS Titanic which started its fateful journey within a mile of this show – BUILT was a buoyant success! So much so that organisers would maybe even go so far as saying that it could well make a return in 2018 – you heard it here first!
A full gallery of images is available here – BUILT EVENT BELFAST 13.08.17 | FULL GALLERY
Words & Photos: Graham Curry
[images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]