The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a cult car with a fanatical fanbase. Every summer, thousands of GTI devotees descend on Lake Wörthersee, Austria – almost all of them in modified Volkswagens. The 37th annual GTI-Treffen witnessed the world debut of VW’s Golf GTI TCR concept, among many other highlights. Join us for a guided tour.
Many cars at Wörthersee are parked with bonnets aloft, showing off super-clean engine bays. This Mk1 Golf Cabriolet boasts gold-plated fittings. Note the wood-effect wrap on the inner wings and scuttle, too.
In 1990, Volkswagen added a supercharger to the Mk2 GTI 8v. The 160hp Golf G60 was the result – seen here looking stock apart from a set of BBS split-rim alloys. The ‘G-Lader’ engine was also used in the Corrado coupe and limited-edition Golf Rallye.
There are plenty of tuner demo cars on display at Wörthersee. This is Oettinger’s 500R – a 550hp Golf that hits 62mph in 3.4sec. Enough to worry a Porsche 911 Turbo…
Volkswagen has built some pretty extreme Golfs of its own. This Mk2-based prototype raced America’s legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb in 1986. It has two turbocharged 1.3-litre Polo engines producing 250hp each.
The Mk1 Golf GTI wasn’t the first hot hatch, but it defined the genre. There’s huge affection for ‘Das Original’ among the fans at Wörthersee and – 42 years on – it remains a staple of the GTI scene.
Back from the brink
By contrast, the Mk3 Golf GTI is the least-loved of the breed. Its plight wasn’t helped by poor reviews and the arrival of a new flagship Golf: the 2.8-litre VR6. Today, it’s making a comeback, with plenty of tidy examples on show in Austria.
Proof that it isn’t all Volkswagens at Wörthersee: this gloriously retro Audi 80 CD was a star of the campsite. In case the brown paint and alloys weren’t enough, it also has a brown velour interior.
A standard Mk4 Golf R32: nothing special there, you might think. But this Deep Blue Pearl car comes from Volkswagen’s Autostadt museum in Wolfsburg, meaning it’s probably the best R32… in the world.
The award for ‘most brilliantly bonkers car at Wörthersee’ goes to this rat-look VW Beetle roadster. It has bouncing hydraulic suspension, a chimney for an exhaust and a Pirelli P-slot alloy in place of a steering wheel.
Another off-the-wall creation was this Mk3 GTI-based trailer. Inside, it offered sleeping space for two, a TV and a beer fridge. Cooler than a caravan, if a tad more cramped.
It’s a wrap
‘Dirty wraps’, as seen on this Audi TT RS, were big at Wörthersee 2018. A car’s paintwork is wrapped in sticky-backed plastic that looks filthy or rusty. Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but it stands out among all the perfect polished paintwork – and we guess that’s the point.
For the chop
Think there’s something a little odd about this second-generation (B2) Passat? Well, you’re right. The roof has been chopped in hot rod-style. With four doors and a hatchback to fit, that’s quite a feat of panelwork.
Yes to BBS
There’s just something about that classic Giugiaro shape. This Mk1 Golf wears an extra-wide side of BBS split-rims – the iconic wheels of the VW scene. It also has smaller steel bumpers, as fitted to early GTIs.
A Mk1 GTI that’s driven all the way to Austria from the UK. Built by JRS DubGarage, it has a 2.0-litre TFSI engine and DSG semi-auto gearbox, both transplanted from a Mk6 Golf R. Those turbine-style alloys are one-offs, too.
The Mk2 Country remains one of the strangest special-edition Golfs. It had raised suspension, Syncro four-wheel drive, bull bars and a spare wheel mounted on the tailgate. The original crossover?
The Citi Golf was effectively a continuation of the Mk1, manufactured in South Africa until 2009. It was only available with five doors, but a CTI version – launched in 1990 – used the same 1.8-litre engine as the original GTI.
Estate of the art
Are you brave enough to modify your brand new Audi? Some people clearly are, as this ‘slammed’ 2018 RS4 reveals. We’re not sure if the engine has been tweaked, although the standard 450hp and 443lb ft seems ample.
Wörthersee takes over the entire village of Reifnitz and seeing it all demands a lot of walking. These electric mini-GTIs were ideal for little legs and available to borrow at the show.
We spotted a few air-cooled 911s among the many, many Volkswagens and Audis. This 964 Turbo nailed the wide-arch look nearly three decades ago. Watch the slideshow below for more photos from Wörthersee 2018.