Carbs & Chrome took a trip to Belgium last weekend (June 28th-30th) to the 5th European Bug In (EBI). This show started as an annual event in 2007 but by the time the 3rd EBI rolled around in 2009 the organisers were feeling that it had gotten almost too big to run as an annual event, especially as this was not a full time job for these two gentlemen and their team of volunteers. With that, it was decided that it would make a lot more sense if it was a biennial event and that gamble seems to have paid off as the thought of having to wait 24 months for the next show ensures a massive turnout of VW enthusiasts for this 3 day event.
The show itself is held in a small town in Belgium called Chimay, which in itself attracts quite a few visitors each year to their brewery but on this one weekend in June the population doubles as VW enthusiasts from all over the world, and their cars, emerge on this sleepy town which is closed off to regular traffic allowing one of their roads to be used as a drag strip. In case you think I should have said ‘from all over Europe’ as opposed to ‘all over the world’ then you’d be wrong because this has to be the only show in Europe where cars as well as people fly in from all corners of the globe. There are classic VW drag race cars flown and shipped in from America and Asia as well as a full car carrier from Scotland with nothing but 1960’s & 1970’s Gasser racers loaded onto it. Not only do the cars arrive but the drivers who drag raced them in the 60’s & 70’s also make the journey with some more even getting back behind the wheel for a quarter mile blast one more time.
EBI has achieved the impossible by marketing itself as a nostalgia show, focussing on the history of performance and California Look VWs but somehow managing to attract the new generation of VW enthusiasts who have more of laid back and cruise attitude which is reflected in their ground scraping and more often ratty looking Bugs and Buses. Customs are big at EBI and you can see anything from home made customs choptops to radical hot rod influenced rat rods. The weekend is such a chilled out show and I think I’ll leave the last word to one of our North American visitors who summed it up as such; “I will definitely be back. We have had such a blast in Belgium and can’t get over how laid back everyone is over here. You guys just do your thing and there’s nobody laying down the law. Our shows start at a fixed time and finish dead on time, and generally there’ll all one day events so to see people cruising in on a Friday afternoon and not moving out until Sunday evening is an eye opener for me. People cruising around on the back of their pickups, sitting on the roofs of the Buses or on their monkey bikes is wild and I want more so count me in for 2015! You guys can party!”
Take a look at the photos and you’ll see that between the shiny show cars, the ratty Bugs and Buses, the award winning Karmann Ghias, the wild customs and rods as well as the drag racing, there really is something for everyone’s taste which is why you have to do EBI at least once in your life……..but bring a pair of wellies just in case the weather goes tits up like it did on the Friday and then some sun cream for when that breaks through and scalds your neck like it did on Sunday!
Words and photos: Cathal