Vdub Festival 2k23 – that was one for the books, for many reasons. Of course, VAG Café was in attendance in force with a bunch of awesome flient cars (flient = friends and clients) on display. Some merch was on sale too, those Year of the Rabbit Ts are so damn cool and from the reactions is clear that everyone thinks so. This instalment of the biggest gathering of VAG cars in the Southern Hemisphere, was the biggest to date. To say the event was packed is an understatement. There had been a week of rain leading up to the event at Warmbaths in Bela-bela and many were having flashbacks to a previous round of Camp Fest that’s been deleted from most people’s memories thanks to the amount of rain and mud, but it wasn’t quite as bad as that. We arrived on Friday, and there had been a little more rain, but there was definitely more sun, and so it wasn’t quite flooded, but the ground was rather waterlogged. Rain was scheduled for Saturday too, but the event gods were smiling down and it was just a hot, cloudy morning that turned into a scorcher of a day. Friday is always the chill day with many simply arriving to settle in or set up camp, in fact some started arriving on the Thursday before, something not really seen before. So we all settled in, some more than others ensuring a horrible time in Saturday’s heat, but that’s Fest weekend for you. 

On Saturday things started a bit late, the main arena was still nice and green, but the ground was so super soft and squishy that after a few cars had driven (I use the term lightly) over it, it became quite muddy, so much that some cars got stuck and needed rescuing. This affected the setup of the various sponsor and exhibitor stands, moving trailers across the field was not easy. Mid-morning I joined MC Vic Pardal and the other event judges on stage to start checking out the cars. Now usually Saturdays are pretty quiet on the stage, but this year the stage was busy just about the whole day, and the space inside the main show arena, the section of the event that we usually stick to and cover, was full of show cars. Those of us who have been doing this for years all agreed that it was the busiest Saturday to date. The cars on stage were great, a bunch of them weren’t entered into the actual competition, they were cars that had entered just for the Park Off part but were given some time on the stage for onlookers to check out. Some of the cars we saw should have entered though, they were that good. The judges were still busy all day and got through a decent amount of cars, a good thing as there were 120 cars entered, and if less came up on stage then Sunday would have been way too stressful and judging time would have been very short. One thing that does help the judges though is that many overdo it on Friday and Saturday night and are too hungover to do the whole car show thing. Thanks guys. After the longest Fest Saturday ever, the crowds headed to the party headed up by Dalootz, one of the hottest DJs around right now and a fellow VW fanatic. 

Sunday stared off bright and early with the obligatory drive through the camp site to snap some pics. This is also where the amount of people this year was evident. There’s usually some space between the tents that helps make cool background for pics, but the tents were packed in quite tight and so the roads were unusually full of cars parked along it. After that it was show time, and there were still loads of cars that needed to get on stage to be judged. Luckily there was a steady stream of cars this time, Vic didn’t need to beg people to line up. I’m pretty sure that there wasn’t enough time to see all the cars, but as said, some dropped out of the running and that helped. What didn’t help was the quality of cars this year, it seems that between last year and this year the guys levelled up in a big way. There were so many cars that needed a second look, making things hard for the judges. Some classes were a little thin, but the rest more than made up for. The amount and quality of the OG cars was amazing, especially with the Mk2s. We saw some absolutely mint 80s and early 90s cars, more than ever before. The Mk1 class was hotly contested with owners bringing the heat from all over SA. Some well-known faces returned, and some regulars were absent, so there were some new cars and some re-worked cars we’ve seen before. Those who returned did serious work to change things up. While at the end of it all, the overall win was controversially taken by a Mk1 Golf, there was one real stand-out star of the show from Bodyline Auto. These guys brought nuclear heat with a brand-new black Tiguan R that was rolling on 22-inch Bentley wheels and featured a stunner of a boot install and air. The main attraction was mind-blowing though, this Tig R wore custom Tiguan RS badges because it was a 5-pot motor swap to a new RS3 powerplant. WHAT! World-class!

So there were winners and losers, there were results people agreed with and that they disagreed with, but at the end of the day, it’s the judge’s decision and it’s final. Since 2015 I’ve had a hand in the overall results, but this year I was absent from the final choice because I had to timeout while there was still an hour and a half of judging time left. You’ll see that in the Facebook album for the event, the last 10 or so cars to go on stage are missing. It seems I got myself a bout of heatstroke from Saturday that was trying its best to kill me, and so at the judge’s break between 13:00 and 14:00 (judging ended at 15:00) I headed back to Jo’burg for meds and electrolytes and some horrible tasting powder stuff. I just couldn’t take a minute more of direct sun, thanks to a smaller stage covering and the mirror floor, I even got badly sunburnt hands. That said, the other judges know their stuff, and I stick by their decisions. I would have argued the Tig RS for Best of Show, but I doubt that would have impacted the results. It is the Year of the Rabbit though, so fitting that a Mk1 took the crown. 

So yeah, Vdub Camp Fest 2k23 was one for the books in more ways than one. The VAG Café crew had a great time, as did many others. There were some issues though, but this isn’t the place for it, but I have to say that 2023 there are a few things that need serious attention, and I fear if something isn’t done there could be some horrible consequences. We know you want to know who won what class, and there will be a full rundown of the results on the official Vdub Festival South Africa Facebook page, so keep an eye on the socials for that, and then watch the ensuing arguments from the Facebook Qualified Couch Judges. As for the VAG Café crew, we’ll see y’all there in 2024, because that’s how we roll. Until then, head on over to our VAG Café Facebook page and check out our coverage focussed on the show and the main arena.


Related Posts