Depending on when you start counting, Big SoCal Euro is 15, 16, or 17 years old. Poke around the event's website and you'll learn roots were laid as far back as 2001—but organizers admit the first large-scale affair didn't actually happen until '03. Back then it was known as NorCal vs. SoCal VW & Audi, and over time Big SoCal Euro bummed around California until it touched down in '07 at its final resting spot, the parking lot of SDCCU Stadium, the erstwhile Qualcomm Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium. In that span, more and more enthusiasts joined the festivities, helping turn Big SoCal Euro into the massive, must-attend, summer-ending occasion it is today.
BSE 2018 had perfect weather and a slightly altered plan for game day. Again it took place on the Sunday in the middle of Labor Day weekend, and the event layout was pretty much status quo, save for the VIP car lot, which was moved into an area in between the spectator parking and the vendor village (in previous years the section was off to one side of the vendors). Food trucks were on hand, drag racers began making pulls in the parking lot's improvised 1/8-mile strip, and show hours were from noon to almost 7pm (if memory serves, in previous years BSE was held a couple hours later in the day).
The VIP stable sported equal parts beautiful examples of restored classics and wild one-offs—everything from pretty Porsche 356s and timeless 911s to an immaculate Land Rover Defender and even a liveried-up Renault 5 Turbo that looked fresh off a rally tarmac stage. Among the arguably less attractive but no less stunning was an LS1 V8-swapped Mini Cooper S—pretty much as nutso as it sounds.
Wagons and wheels this time around seemed to pique our attention. Our rim radar is always active, and with Big SoCal Euro that means noticing lots of BBS, Rotiform, and fifteen52 rollers, among others. We did come across a set of Radi8 CM9s on an E46 that prompted us to check out the rest of the line later on, and we were not disappointed (keep an eye out for them!) As for estate cars, wagon enthusiasts are a rare breed, so when we came across one—like anMk4 Jetta wagon, or E46, or A4 Allroad—a smile lit up our faces.
Volkswagen had a large presence at BSE '18, with the OEM setting up a sizable booth to augment the already numerous Beetles, Buses, Golfs, and other models in attendance; we were a little partial toward the unusual, like the few Caddys and Corrados on display, but for the rarest of the rare there was no beating the Meyers Manx buggy or the Audi Sport liveried Vanagon. And about Audi - this year's Audi Fest area was the biggest it's ever been at BSE, boasting well over 120 vehicles. Ultimately, though, our favorite memories from Big SoCal Euro wore BMW badges—amid a sea of E30 and E46, we fell head over heels for CATuned's sick 2002 and the throtl E36 M3 (complete with restored OZ Racing Fittipaldi rollers).
Big SoCal Euro was an extremely good event, and we hope our gallery reflects that. Dig into the photos and let us know what you think!