Some shows we attend we find ourselves gazing into the ceiling of the airplane trying to grasp everything we just witnessed over the weekend. Keep in mind, of the thousands of shows taking place across the world only a handful make us feel this way.
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is great for satisfying our antique sweet tooth, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is perfect for quenching our gasoline burning thirst but nothing makes us light up like attending H2O International in Ocean City, MD.
A city lined with some of the most bizarre mini golf courses on the planet seems like an odd place to hold an event but that’s the charm of this show. It’s meant to be an oasis for tuners to enjoy in the opulent lifestyle of personalizing ones car. Our hobby comes with a unique identity and Ocean City, MD is as unique as it gets.
The Town Run-eth Over
H2O is many things but conventional isn’t one of them. We have never been so pleased to see a town taken over by a sea of tuned VW, Audi, Porsche and BMWs. Street races were occurring on nearly every block, local parking lots and hotels were overflowing with people and the streets were lined for miles with enthusiasts.
But this show isn’t just about the people, it’s the cars that brings them together. The bizarre Mk1 Frankenstein builds, the aggressively bagged late models and even a few exotics that decided to crash the party. Everyone is here to see who will create the next legendary moment for all to talk about until next year. What parking lot gem will be the talk of the town, and who the hell was selected for Top Dawg?!
Our first stop was Big Peckers on the far North side of the strip. Again, our east coast euro-guru Josh Brown was waiting for us with his childhood friends (and converted euro tuners) ready to escort us throughout the night’s festivities.
After we downed our enormous bacon burgers, we headed down towards 45th st. –the epicenter. If you had a car worth showing or even one you weren’t to ashamed of you had to make a stop here. Hundreds lined both sides of the street hoping for a drag race or even a burnout. But Johnny Law is no stranger to H2O hooning. The came by land, sea and air to make sure safety was enforced, along with the laws of the road. At one point we saw horse mounted and bike patrolling police take a breather as the crowds became too large to bark at. We were swimming in a sea of rev-hitting euro cars we just couldn’t get enough of.
Getting home at a decent hour to be alive enough to walk the new grounds of H20i would be a tall order. The Fort Whaley Campgrounds in Whaleyville, MD would prove to be our greatest challenge of the weekend. Offering various terrains like a mud bogging vendor area, grass hill show parking and an enchanted forest filled with show cars.
The sprawling grounds would host 667 show cars and an estimated 5000+ cars parked throughout the estate. The show wrapped from the front gravel area, to the main road and even weave its way through the back forests.
Two hours after we arrived we would learn that our friends, the police, were starting to close the front entrance, diverting thousands of participants to find parking nearly a mile away. To say some were upset would be an understatement. But once on the campgrounds surrounded them with the cars they came for, most would forget their frustrations and enjoy the show.’
Mud Bogging Vendors
The vendor area saw several new parts and wild project cars debut. Fifteen52 showed up with four new wheels and cars to match. HRE debuted a new design in their Vintage Series dubbed the 935 and also showcased their new flow-form wheel line, which will make a formal debut at SEMA. We found a company called IDF developing MK5 rear tubular control arms to allow for a more aggressive airbag stance.
SLAW, a fabrication shop out of Blackwood, New Jersey, brought three stunning examples of what they are capable of. A Mk3 GTI, A Mk3 Corrado and a Mk4 GTI with at Jetta front clip. Each received a flawless paint job, stunning interior fit and finish along with power plants tucked neatly into shaved engine bays. Seeing as the shop started from a home garage, its great to see that quality and craftsmanship still are the rule to a successful company.
Show Fields & Forests
Amongst the hundreds of show cars we found some gems in nearly every category. New levels of low coupled with new fitment and styling were among the hottest things to emerge out of H20i this year. Vintage wheels are as hot as ever while modern rim companies are finding ways to pay homage to heritage while incorporating new technology.
Top Dawg is a display that never disappoints. Relentless man hours dedicated to the tiniest details on each car, made our jaws hit the floor. Softball size turbos, shaved engine bays and aggressive stance fitments were just a few notable features amongst the invitation only vehicles. This years selection was a nice mix of early and late model VW that were bursting at the seams with rare and one-off parts that separated them from the rest of the field. Even a Corrado was able to make the cut with a proper VR6 swap and one of the tidiest engine bays of the class.
H2Oi proved again to be the show everyone had been waiting for all year long. Making this the most talked about show in the country, at least according to us it is. We enjoy coming out to bask in a night of shenanigans while catching up with our favorite tuning shop and builders. Thankfully H20i is our mecca and we look forward to the pilgrimage again next year.