Living in Europe has certain advantages over staying in the U.S.; one of the biggest benefits is everything is condensed in a relatively small area. Most of the continent's attractions are within a 24-hour drive or a three-hour flight. When it comes to car gatherings, those lucky enough to have the money to spec up their rides and use them for longer trips are presented with myriad opportunities throughout the whole motoring season to participate in great events held in world-class locations. In fact, at the beginning and the end of the season, the concentration of gatherings worthy of a visit becomes so high that it's not a question of if you go, but where you go; and it becomes an awfully difficult question to answer.
To put it in context, imagine in one September weekend, an average European car freak was tempted by Edition 38 in the U.K., already famous in the VDub scene, a really good Prague Car Festival in the Czech Republic, while the famous tuning scene in Poland hosted two other major events. With such abundance of "must-goes" for show-builds and tuner car lovers, it may come as a surprise that there are still new events shaping up, and they are instantly met with great interest.
This is the case with the meets organized by the German community of XS World, which offers all types of car lovers from all over central Europe grand events held in different locations across Germany, coming with their own merchandise and social media channels. The XS clique has been organizing the events from the XS Carnight Show series for the last 17 years. During that time, they have grown to be one of the biggest meetings of its type in the world, with each edition seeing hundreds of quality modified cars and thousands of spectators flowing through some of the greatest landmarks Germany has to offer. This is exactly how the last XS Carnight Show held at Berlin's Olympiastadion this summer looked—the report from the event can be found in the previous issues of the european car mag.
Even if the XS's parties don't have the fame and scale of Europe's most coveted gatherings, like Woerthersee, they're certainly nothing to go by. After the successful Berlin event, we were more than happy to learn there's yet one more reason to bring some modified metal to Germany this season. This time it was going to be something a bit different since the XS Carnight Classic Show is reserved, as the name indicates, only for modified vintage cars. The organizers specified, with typical German precision, that only cars made between the years 1900 and 1999 would be granted access, although virtually the whole lineup consisted of the German classics of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Contrary to stereotypes, even the Germans want to break the rules from time to time and try something new. In this case, it was leaving the modern cars on the outside parking lots, and the idea already celebrates huge success with only two editions under its belt. What's more, it could be felt that it was a new type of event that everybody was looking forward to this season. And with the interest in classics currently growing all over Europe, you can go as far as to say it's this newer series with the greatest potential for growth.
Organizers wanted to maintain the high standard for the event, hence the cars shown on the show's grounds had to qualify for the privilege weeks before, while the number of tickets available to the audience was limited to 10,000 to keep the laid-back ambience for which the XS's gatherings are known. Suitably, the event was once again held on the cozy premises of Ostrapark, located in the city of Dresden in East Germany. Featuring a lake and two halls to house the cars, this expo venue was everything that the participants needed. The XS World guys, as always, built a great atmosphere, bringing some palm trees, a portable beach, and some summer colors to postpone the end of summer for this one evening.
The German organizers treat their gatherings mostly as a form of casual weekend relaxation, so it doesn't matter if it's a local show or the biggest gathering at Austria's Woerthersee and Dresden's XS Carnight alike, don't expect an action-packed timetable with interviews, contests, or any other forms of competition. They're more like a weekend getaway based on spending one's time talking, taking a nap on a deck chair, and enjoying some typically German weizen beer and bratwurst sausage (one stereotype that, thankfully, stands as promised). The organizers did pick three cars from the contestants to award them the best of show titles, but this was not the point of the whole happening.
A lack of prizes, of course, didn't affect the motivation of the participants in any way. Even though this was a smaller event reserved for classics, XS Carnights are still the place to be if you want to see some world-class tuning projects, meet the people in the know, or buy parts and gadgets from the hottest names in the industry. Understandably, for the German undisputed love of VW Group cars, the event was dominated by the cars coming from all of the corners of the Volkswagen empire. Apart from the usual heaps of T1 buses, early Beetles, Passats, Golfs, and Polos (coming not only from Germany, but also from as far as Russia), the lineup saw a surprising number of some of VW's biggest rarities, like special editions of Golfs (Rallyes et al.) and VW Derbys, particularly respected in these circles; I counted roughly a dozen. The other brands of VAG were represented by a great deal of Audis and Skodas, the latter obviously brought by some guests from the nearby Czech Republic, but also Germans themselves, as the brand is gradually working on its recognition here under Volkswagen custody. As usual, the top of this VAG social ladder was occupied by some air-cooled Porsches, modified and stylized to the same effect as all of the other cars around. Coming as no particular surprise was a world premiere of yet another RWB creation. RWBs are now debuted at any car or vape gatherings with eight or more attendees with smartphones and social media accounts. As could be expected from Nakai-san, to build the car, he came to Dresden personally and finished it just the very last moment before its official unveiling. (Spoiler alert—he took a 911 and screwed on big fenders. -Ed)
Those looking for something less obvious were pleased to see a variety of other German evergreens. Apart from your default BMWs (just look how noble these 2002s have become with age), Opels (with particularly fond memories of the perfectly organized stand of Opel Kadett owners club), some random Benzes, and one outstanding fully original Lancia Stratos, the event wouldn't be complete without at least a few representatives of another German classic, the Duroplast-bodied Trabant. The famous three-box budget limos coming from the times of the Soviet-occupied East Germany have an unmistakable charm about them, leaving a characteristic blend of oil smell, wonky sound, and blue smoke coming from its two-stroke engine wherever they'd go.
The organizers' ambitious strategy brought the best possible effects: out of the hundreds of cars present, you could count the questionable projects on one hand. The perfectly suited venue helped to achieve just the right kind of feeling for a weekend chill. Limiting the lineup to just the old- and young-timers, as Germans call them, surely helped as well. The Classic Carnight presented a rare chance to fully appreciate the cars of the chosen era, which elsewhere can get undeservedly overshadowed by some newer, flashier stuff. The following year brings another major development for the XS World, as the Germans will hit U.S. shores for a third time, now setting up a big event in Long Beach, California, on March 18th. Even if the meeting brings mostly American-bound cars, we truly hope the XS staff will be able to transfer that German Carnight feeling to the U.S.