A lot has changed since the first GTI International took place way back in 1988. At the time, you could walk into a dealership and buy a brand new Mk2 Golf, without big bumpers, the Corrado was a pre-production show car and Germany was still divided into two countries. But, now in its 25th year, Inters remains a staple part of the UK Volkswagen scene.
It's a quarter century that's come with some substantial changes, including the rise of internet forums, social media and of course a calendar full of other shows. All of which means that while this was once the big season opener, and the place where nearly all the year's biggest project cars broke cover, Inters now loses some of its exclusive rides to the earlier shows. But for diversity, you can't fault its near unique mix of polish and performance, which makes this 100% worthy of a place in an ever more packed-out show season.
After a few venue changes, the show has based itself at the 670-acre Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground for the last seven events. This former airfield, around an hour and a half north of London, offers plenty of space for the event's huge list of attractions including a huge show and shine held on both days, plus club stands, auto-jumbles, traders, two sprint courses, a dyno and the recently introduced camping area.
But it's the quarter mile that usually attracts the biggest crowds and over more than two decades the Inters drag strip has been home to some noteworthy straight-line figures from the Volkswagen scene's best-known projects.
This year was no let down, with Andy White's road legal Mk1 Golf drag car, Dialynx's Sport Quattro and Paul Jordan's UK record-holding Mk1 Scirocco taking top honors. Surprises included a handful of 13-second runs from a standard-looking, but blatantly tweaked, Audi Q7 V10 TDI. Sponsor REVO Technik also teased the crowds with supplier Keith Edwards Motorsport doing a part-throttle run of the quarter mile in their 850bhp Pikes Peak spec Audi Sport Quattro, hinting at the unhinged lunacy it'll unleash on the UK hill climb circuits when it competes this year.
Sunday was bigger still, with cars filling the show and shine area beyond capacity by mid morning. The focus for UK Dubbers is still exclusivity, raiding parts bins as far and wide as Land Rover and Mitsubishi for something unique, and the attention to detail gets higher every year. This is a scene, which can take its influences from all over the world, blending them to form its own unique style, so innovation was everywhere. From TDI-powered Mk1 Golfs, an electric Polo to a home-built short wheelbase Quattro and B6 Passat with a full Bentley Bentley Continental interior swap, Brits really don't do things in half measures.
And neither does the show itself. Big enough to be supported by Volkswagen itself, the show and shine area was home to a couple of the manufacturer's in-house racing cars and all six generations of Golf GTI supplied from the heritage fleet at Volkswagen UK, while Heritage VW parts in Germany brought a pair of fully restored Nothelle-built racers to the event.
While others have come and gone in the meantime, Inters remains a must-see event on the UK show calendar, offering perhaps the best cross-section of cars from this ever-inventive scene. Here's to planning for the 50th anniversary!
Sadly the 25th GTI International suffered an unfortunate incident, where a car racing in the sprint drag race lost control, crashed through barriers and metal fencing, injuring three spectators. All three were taken to the hospital with one being airlifted. Since the occurrence all injured parties were released from the hospital and we wish them a speedy recovery.
A big special thank you goes to the safety team in place at the event for rapidly responding and aiding those affected. This is the first time in the history of the event that such an incident has occurred. The cause of the car loosing control is still under investigation by Leicestershire Police, but suspicions of a failed quick release steering system is said to have come off causing the vehicle to torque steer toward the crowd. We hope next year’s safety barriers will be more adequate for drag race vehicles.