Wörthersee 2016 – “The Hills are Alive…”

For petrolheads, there are a few very special rites of passage. Proper bucket list jobs: A drunken weekend at Le Mans, trying to set up camp whilst simultaneously entertaining lairy drunken Germans; Visiting the Nordschleife at least once, with Sabine testing the limits of her Ring Taxi M5’s tyres, as well as the resolve of your stomach and/or trousers; Driving across Route 66, in a ’64 Mustang drop top, 3 on the tree, with a buxom blonde giggling away in the passenger seat. But for us, there was none more important than the big one, The Ultimate week away…Wörthersee Treffen.

We’ve all seen the pictures that come out of there; show winning cars lining the streets, incredible vistas as far as the eye can see, beautiful girls in bikinis lounging on speedboats. Well, none of it is exaggerated. It’s all very, very real. Read on for tales of cars leaving their passengers stranded in the middle of Germany overnight, spending a cloudless Sunday morning driving through the mountains and tunnels with a porn star in her Lamborghini, and the most sublime day imaginable with the guys and girls from FLGN:TLT at their secret photo shoot, high up in the mountains bordering Slovenia.

Our adventure began at 3am, in a sleepy cul-de-sac in Coventry, England. Matt and I were in the WCS 8-Series, and Phil was in friend of WCS Josh”Stop Calling me Barry Chuckle” Bradley’s gorgeous little Skoda Fabia. The stunning sunrise set the tone for what was to be a beautiful day, heading down to Dover, and onward into France.

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After a couple of hours heading through rural France, we met up with friend of WCS, Nic Pritchard, in his sublime E91 M3 Touring.

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The BMW anoraks out there are no doubt forcibly ejecting their strudel with anger at that last sentence. Cries of “BMW never made an E91 M3” and “no factory production Tourings were ever released”can be heard across lake and meadow. Well, back in 2009 Nick, owner of BM & MINI UK Ltd, decided he wanted an M3 Touring. So he did what any perfectly sane and stable middle-aged (sorry mate) man would do, and made one…

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Starting life as a humble 318i, bought brand new by Nick, it was quickly ripped apart and built into what you’d be forgiven for thinking was a factory spec car. Riding pretty on 19×9″ and 19×10″ BBS LMs, with 380mm Brembos front and rear and legit BMW Motorsport Recaro CSs, this is otherwise a factory fresh car. Considering this was the first in the world, Nick is rightly very proud of it, and it was remarked on more than a few occasions that it was the perfect car for our 3000 mile road trip.

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After a short wait at the services, we joined up with the rest of our convoy; Steve Fraser and Matt Wright in Steve’s now monstrous APR S3 Sallon, Kats Giles, Beth and Rooth in Kats’ Q3, Dan and Paige from S6 Wraps in their sparkly as you like and very, very fast 335i, and Jake and Ben in Jake’s awesome aired out Tiguan. Running just shy of 300bhp from it’s 2.0TSI, it certainly surprised a few people throughout the trip.

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As we headed across France, through Luxembourg and into Germany, and the hot day turned into a perfect summer’s evening, after 18 hours on the road, it’s safe to say that we were looking forward to getting to our half way hotel. Josh’s Fabia had other plans however, and decided its rear beam was overrated, and that it didn’t need most of it anymore. So, 150 miles from Stuttgart, at the side of a section of unrestricted autobahn, at 9pm, with a wheel hanging off, the realisation dawned that this wasn’t getting fixed quickly. We made the difficult decision to leave them awaiting recovery, and drove on, eventually arriving at the hotel (no thanks to the sat-nav) at 12:30. We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone that shared the numerous Facebook and Instagram posts trying to find the boys some help, it really was appreciated.

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Suitably refreshed for day two, we set off in search of mystical mountains and never-ending lakes. After just a few hours driving, we weren’t disappointed…

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We’d arranged to meet the owners of the incredible house we’d rented at about 5pm, and as we rolled into Velden, we were keen to find our home for the next week. After two kind policemen charged us 25 Euros, for informing us about the lack of front plate on the BMW, we (eventually) found our way down a beautiful private road to the house. Was it worth the wait? What d’you think..?

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With the boys safely in a hire car and making considerably good time from where they’d been stranded overnight (quick tip:don’t trust breakdown companies to actually book you hotels. Or tell you that the garage they’ve taken you to will be closed the next day, due to it being a national bank holiday), we decided the best plan of action was to kick back, watch the sun go down and take in the spectacular vista from our verandah. We were here. We were, after years of dreaming and months of planning, in Wörthersee.

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With Josh and Phil having been safely wrapped up in their beds by midnight, the next day dawned bright and early. With the promise of actual British tea and car washing facilities, Nic and the girls weren’t backward in coming forward.

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First stop had to be the Eni petrol station. We’ve all seen the pictures of incredible cars filling the parking area. It’s one of the iconic image of the whole Wörthersee experience, so we’d already decided that it needed to be our first stop. We’d like to apologise for Josh’s shorts in the last photo. They won’t happen again.

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Quickly establishing that the nearby bar provided not only the perfect vantage point to watch cars arriving and leaving, but also ice-cold beer and proper Austrian schnitzel, we settled in for our first morning in heaven. The famous wash bays were in constant use, disgorging their temporary occupants back into the attached parking, to exhibit their now shiny wares.

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After relaxing for a few hours in what we were quickly coming to realise might well be heaven, someone pointed out that, actually, we had work to do. We’d arranged a number of shoots with some incredible pieces of machinery, first of which was the 1979 BMW 635CSi of Szocs Mate. Subject to a ground up restoration 3 years ago, this car is breathtakingly beautiful in a way that film (well, an SD card) can’t capture. So much so that I very, very nearly drove it back to England. It really is that special.

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Rolling on custom 3pc 18″ Centras and a bespoke 4 way air ride system, both built by Szocs, the attention to detail on this car is exquisite. No stuck on tat, no big wings, just well thought out additions that accentuate what is one of the most beautiful cars ever to have come out of Munich.

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Seeing this nose to nose with its spiritual successor was what made me come very close to bringing this home. I don’t need a house, right?

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After little to no persuasion, we decided that we needed a drive through town, to see if some of the finest cars in Europe really are just strewn around the streets, as we’ve all seen in the articles we’ve drooled over for the past 10 years. They are…

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One of the most infamous spots is “Turbo Kurve,’ or Faak am See to use its proper title. A huge car park surrounded by yet more rugged terrain, this is one of the best spots to watch people launch, burnout, and generally drive like weapons. But it’s also somewhere that you’re guaranteed to find some seriously show stopping builds, anytime of the day.

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As incredible as the surrounding area is, it’s the main town of Velden where the action’s really going on. And this doesn’t let up when the sun goes down. With the streets buzzing until the early hours, ice cream parlours and incredible restaurants tempting you in with their culinary delights, and the famous casino and gentlemen’s club all within a 1/2 mile strip, it’s no surprise to find the crème de la crème congregating here night after night, dragging their exotic wares with them and vying for the best, and most illegal, parking spots. Parking tickets aren’t a deterrent, so much as a trophy.

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It was during a night out that we caught up with friend of WCS Mario, owner of maestros in rimmage Rad48, and a couple of his newest team cars. The yellow A4 simply blew our minds; it sits mm perfect, and has a host of incredibly well thought touches incorporated into the build. Although we’d expect nothing less from the Rad48 guys. Oh, and the red E92 is static…

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Whilst chatting, he invited us to catch up with our friends from German demigods FLGN:TLT, at the location of their exclusive photo shoot. So, the next day, we headed up into the mountains, finding ourselves in what can only be described as something from The Sound of Music; the most incredible alpine farm you ever did see. The scenery was beautiful, the cars were perfect, and the German beer was flowing. This is an afternoon that will stick in our minds for a very long time…

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Whilst there, we caught up with tattoo artist extraordinaire Alex, in his stunning supercharged Jaguar XJR, along with Axel and the guys from Messer Wheels with their picture perfect W124 300CE…

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…and stood talking about their incredible rose gold coated wheels. Without a doubt, they’re two of the most beautiful examples we’ve ever seen. Alex’s Jag is rolling on Rad48 XRs, in 18×10″ et20 all around, complimented by a full AccuAir setup.

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Rene’s W124 captured our hearts from the moment we saw it. It is one of the most tastefully modified, possibly one of the simplest cars we’ve ever shot, but the impact it has is spectacular. Sat on Messer’s brand new ME03-3.1, which are essentially fans with stepped lips, in 17×8.5″ (et2) and 17×9.0″ (et-5) flavour, this is a very special car. The brushed rose gold centre, teamed with polished rose gold lips and polished hardware, is a very brave move, but one that they’ve pulled off perfectly. Against the two-tone Impala Brown over gold bodywork, the contrast is striking to say the least. As you’d expect, fitment is perfect.

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You can’t have failed to have noticed the bright pink Maserati GT, also belonging to the main man himself; R3 Wheels and FLGN:TLT head honcho, Rene Schmidt. With a full Stradalé wide body conversion, this thing is hench.As you’d expect from the main demo car for a company like R3, they weren’t shy when it came to wheel specs, deciding on their Hallibrand esque R3H5-3 design. In a not too shabby 20×10.0″, with a whopping et-48 up front, and a frankly gargantuan 21×12.0″ et-58 bringing up the rear, they couldn’t really do anything other than paint it in the lairiest colour the could think of. So bubblegum pink it is.

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We’d been chatting to Lexy Roxx (don’t pretend you don’t know who she is) for a little while, about shooting her bonkers Liberty Walk kitted Lamborghini Huracan. So, at 9:30 on a sunday morning, we found ourselves on the autobahn, with not only her Lambo, but two widebodied 991 GT3s. Check out the video for more…

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We stuck with them until we reached the famous Subway meet, at the OBI in nearby Klagenfurt. This is something of a must for Wörthersee visitors. Every sunday morning for the duration of the event, the huge car park is quite literally gridlocked with incredible metal.

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       Through our 10 day trip we encountered friends being stranded 1200 miles from home, incredible views, beautiful girls, jaw dropping cars, German porn stars, lived like kings and had, unanimously and without any doubt, ones of the best weeks we’ve had. Most of the journey home was done at 50mph through what we can only assume were poorly reported monsoons, we spent a fortune in European service station toilets (why do you have to pay for them?) and had possibly the worst ferry crossing known to man on the way home. But it was so, so worth it. It’s so much more than just the cars. We saw old friends, we made new ones, and it’s undoubtedly something we will all remember for the rest of our lives…

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See you next year…

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Pictures by Matt Clifford, Phil Hulton and Peter Mosoni.

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Worthersee 2016 - Matt Clifford

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