The annual Worthersee Treffen is a car event like no other. What started 35 years ago at a small gathering of VW Golf GTIs at an Austrian hotel has grown into a week-long event that encompasses cars old and new from across the VW Group, with over 100,000 visitors regularly attending each year.
The official, VW-backed part of the festival is a small fan of cars on the lawn at the picturesque shore of Lake Worthersee. But that’s the mere tip of a large, erratic iceberg: streams of cars – in various states of tune, and accommodating all points on the crap to classy spectrum – fill the surrounding streets and fields, raucous exhaust systems only drowned out by ludicrously loud stereo setups.
“We come here for the cars, and the people!” exclaims Nicole, one half of Nicole and Ben, the couple which owns the curious Golf-and-a-half you see above. “We go to many tuning events but this is the best by far. We’re staying here all week.”
If you think her statement is a bit, well, obvious, then there’s another side to Worthersee. One that feels like it’s stuck several decades in the past. Girls dance in a negligible amount of clothing in the middle of the day before starring in wet t-shirt competitions, while groups of men stagger around drunk well before 11am.
The event deliberately coincides with Germany’s equivalent of Father’s Day, dubbed ‘man’s day’; instead of a last-minute dash to the card shop and a cursory pint with your pa on a Sunday, it’s a four-day, drink-fuelled bank holiday, often celebrated by groups of mates on a camping trip. Or a trip over the Austrian border in their Vee-Dubs to Worthersee.
Naturally, we behaved well, and kept away from its less salubrious side. So instead, join us on a non-exhaustive trip through some of the quirkier four-wheeled sights of Worthersee as it celebrated the 40th birthday of the Golf GTI, the car that kicked the whole thing off in the first place.