DubShed 2018 has come, and almost gone, in the blink of an eye – months of stress and preparations for the organisers and show goers alike, is now nothing short of a distant memory for everyone – we sit back, dreary eyed after a long weekend, and reflect on what the team from GTI NI put together for us this year.
From very humble beginnings of running an annual car show at Castlewellan Forest Park, as well as several club meetings and track days throughout the year – GTI NI set about almost a decade ago, to organise an indoor car event for the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) car scene.
This was a brave decision – they needed a venue capable of holding a few hundred cars, a venue capable of holding a few thousand people, and a venue that was filled with charm, character and that was logistically good.
This choice of venue, at the start I would assume, came with relative ease – as back then, DubShed was held at the Kings Hall Complex in Belfast which provided the space for cars and spectators and was most certainly soaked in charm and character with its “sheds filled with dubs”, however logistically, it was horrible.
Three years ago however, and with the Kings Hall site no longer being available for such events, the club were forced into making a decision on changing the venue and the hard working men and women at GTI NI had to sit down and assess where best would suit the show.
The main exhibition hall from the old Belfast site was moved to the grounds of the former Maze Prison creating the Eikon Exhibition Centre – this was an obvious choice, and allows the organisers to constantly improve and expand the show, which has been done ever since.
Dubshed takes dual honours, even before it opens its doors at the Eikon Exhibition Centre near Lisburn: it’s the first major show of the year, the season opener if you will; and also the largest German car show in Northern Ireland, seeing close to 10,000 people through its doors over two-days.
This of course means expectations are high, but several years in, GTI NI, have perfected the recipe – providing a large, easy access venue, with a high standard of cars on show, and plenty of variety. no matter if young or old, you will find something that appeals to your tastes.
To be clear – although it may be a Volkswagen-Audi Group focused, static event, DubShed also combines motorsport disciplines such as an auto testing demonstration and rally car passenger rides which were sure to entertain the thronged crowd.
Over the last year or two, a remote-controlled drift car arena has been placed inside the main halls, allowing spectators to become drivers, testing their skills of small car driving agility on a custom built set resembling Belfast’s docks – to the delight of many, it was here this year again.
Small cars, with grown-up folk controlling them from a wee handheld box, seems to attract the crowds as this year saw, for the first time, an eighth-scale remote-controlled buggy racing area on the grippy tarmac outside, with twists and turns, the audience gasps came from several jumps incorporated in the track.
These small-wheeled vehicles didn’t get all the glory of ‘grabbing air’ however, as an aeromodelling club positioned in a similar area, provided the huge crowds with something most had never seen before – some incredible aerobatic displays and stunt shows from award winning pilots honing their skills with planes and helicopters alike.
Onto the show itself and there’s no doubting the energy and effort expended by car owners to get their pride and joy to DubShed standards, you can almost sense and feel the tight deadlines and late nights. Under the lights of the Eikon Centre though, everything is perfection, paint pops and sparkles, the deep dish polished wheels found on so many cars, bounce shafts of light around the hangar-like venue.
The appeal of some cars can be obvious, however – some of the most interesting cars at this show were subtle and stealthy, popped bonnets revealed clean bays, wire tucks and incredible engineering feats.
Engine swaps, power hikes courtesy of forced induction or good old fashioned natural aspiration, enhanced with breathing mod’s and polished trumpets. The Dubbing scene is ever-evolving, but the Mark 1 and Mark 2 Golf remains a show stalwart – the angular, early era Golf’s are timeless classics and still turning heads 30 years on.
Vans, Campers and Caddys were also out in force; these vehicles are far removed from their utilitarian origins. Some of the Caddys were ridiculously clean – it’s hard to imagine that any sort of tools or cargo was ever carried in their truck beds.
Low is still a lifestyle and if you’re not touching the floor then you’ve got to lose the altitude to increase the attitude at Dubshed. Air-ride and juiced set ups were on display in abundance across the major displays and there’s no doubting it takes imagination and ingenuity to get that sort of stance. It’s dubious though whether or not a Golf, no matter how powerful, needs 8 pot brake calipers from an Audi R8.
But does it look good, hanging out behind the spokes of scene accepted wheels? Hell, yes!
A few years back I claimed DubShed was the Best Car Show in Northern Ireland, and sometimes this means the high standards can’t be sustained.
Thankfully, and in the careful hands of the organisers and the unrelenting support of the car enthusiast community here, it has continued to go from strength to strength, cementing its future as not only the best car show here, but a must do for any car enthusiast across the UK and Ireland.
If you still haven’t visited in the nine years the show has been around, then get yourself there today (Sunday 8 April), you will need to plan for more than an hour or two to get around this vast event, and if you can’t get this year, I am confident 2019 is already in its planning stages, you have been told…
For a full gallery of images – please see the following – https://www.flickr.com/photos/thegingerdaddy/albums/72157693612935921
Words and Photos: Graham Curry
[images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]