Georgia is known for its breathtaking forests and of course world famous peaches, but Volkswagen show? Southern Worthersee is a tribute show of sorts for American VAG fans to literally take over a Bavarian themed town in northern Georgia (Helen in this case) and enjoy a slice of what the real Worthersee show in Austria is all about. Now in its seventh year, SOWO (as its affectionately known) the looming late spring rain clouds couldn't keep away the shows largest fan attendance to date- roughly 5000 cars and 15000 bodies invaded Helen, GA.
We were on location in the mud, rain and humidity along with our fellow VAG fans to take in everything SOWO had to offer. Impromptu burnout sessions, night life and of course the cars that united everybody for the weekend.
Its become more of an expectation rather than a phenomena that a town over run by VW and Audi owners can expect tail gate and parking lot parties to go well into the wee hours of dawn. Traffic at night can be chaotic and good luck finding a place to park since human beings occupy most spaces. One of the main epicenters of debaucherous behavior is at the Helendorf Inn. The four story tall hotel is sold out six months before the actual SOWO festivities kick off, so we'd suggest booking yours today. We've heard 30% has already been reserved. The balconies are filled with people enjoying the company of fellow brew and VW aficionados.
Taking in a show of this magnitude can be overwhelming. But our keen eyes were focused on finding the gems with more than enough details to keep our VAG catalog memorizers busy for hours.
Greeting us at the entrance was urotuning.com Jetta wagon sitting nice and low on a set of white Fifteen52 Tarmacs and a swapped R32 front end. Finished in black the simplicity and cleanliness of the car is something we enjoy.
Traveling to a show like SOWO is a tall order. Even for those coming from Florida, road trips were bound to encounter some setbacks. One traveler, Robert Rodriguez from Dallas, TX, managed to hit the road and stay out ahead of the tornados in his rear view mirror. As if twisters chasing him weren't enough, he packed his Mk5 GTI with the entire family and weekend provisions. Doing on air and with a set of clean CCW C5 three-piece wheels just adds style to running from Mother Nature.
Tuning house HPA brought out a rare gem to SOWO - a genuine European Scirocco. But rather than keep the coveted non US spec car behind a red velvet rope, they wrapped the car in matte white and told everybody in attendance to step up and make their mark. The great part about this was that not only were fans allowed to doodle to their hearts content on the car, HPA was also accepting donations on behalf of the American Cancer Society. They managed to raise over $1000 from fans digging into their pockets while enjoying the car.
With the aftermarket developing new products daily for the Mk5 and Mk6 GTI platforms its great to see an owner go above and beyond the average offerings. We poured over one in particular found just outside the canopy of the Forge Motorsport vendor display. This alien matte green Mk6 GTI, owned by James Sokol, was packed with plenty of performance mods courtesy of AWE and Forge Motorsport. Air Lift suspension supplied the amazing hardline air suspension, and Fifteen52 milled out the one-off Formula Classic three-piece wheels to clear the new Porsche GT3 Big brakes. Making this one of the hottest cars of Instagram and Facebook posts (remember you can follow us on Instagram too, @eurotuner).
Mk3 Jettas and GTIs have been receiving plenty of attention lately. For the past year we have noticed an increase in dedicated builds and highly detailed examples. Seeing as the car was popularly sold during is reign its no wonder you can still find reasonably priced running examples to begin your next project. One look at James Hatto's '98 Jetta and its no wonder the car was selected as a Top 50 finalist. His interior is what put this car over the top. Sure the custom Mk2 single light front end and tasteful polished tarmacs under the primer military sea foam green was a nice touch. But his basketball tanned full leather interior with one-off detail stitching earned him the Best Interior award from the SOWO judges. Expect to see a full feature on this car very soon.
Best in Show was bestowed to Blair Peterman with is well sorted 1.8T swapped '78 Audi Fox. Considering the car traveled well over 1200 miles just to participate at SOWO, its an even bigger honor to see its owner walk away with the coveted Forge Motorsport beer stein and SOWO Best in Show Trophy. Who say's classics still can't compete against the modern rollers?
It's always a welcomed sight to see an uninvited guest bring a case of beer to your party. It's a certain amount of respect that lets the host know not only is this individual providing appropriate party favors but he's tipping his hat in appreciation of your extended invitation.
There were plenty of party crashers we took notice of during out two-day SOWO roaming. BMW, Volvo, Mercedes, MINI and even Lamborghini all decided to enjoy the welcomed atmosphere of Helen, GA. Airlift had a stunning example of a Volvo V70R sitting lower than normal for the typically vanilla family sedan. One Lamborghini seemed out of place but when the hood was opened the storage compartment revealed a familiar sight that made this car worthy of sticking around for the weekend.
Adding to the fun of the hoonery was a GTI's trunk display. Complete with a full distillery for making moonshine or at least pumping legal versions of the booze from one pot to the next. Either way we enjoyed his dedication to the theme.
It doesn't take a person with bat-like hearing to figure out where the party is at SOWO. Just listen for the screaming tires, echos of "WOOO!" in the distance and of course the wail of police sirens. To put it mildly you're bound to run into a parking lot gathering at nearly every Inn, tavern and restaurant. Since we were at the heart of all mayhem, the Helendorf Inn, we were treated to a front row seat to all the glamour of SOWO. Crowds of people chatting about each other's cars, who drove from the furthest distance and of course who could put away the largest amounts of adult beverages. We enjoyed witnessing the last latter. Of course, the random burnout sessions and attentive law presence did make things interesting as well.
We hear, Canibeat caught most of the hoonigans in its recent video SOWO video coverage. Check out the video below to see the shenanigans.