Event Coverage: H20 International 2008

September 27 and 28, Ocean City, MD &#8212 The end of car season is bittersweet. Though we at VWvortex think we have the best jobs in the world, traveling cross-country to show off our cars and catch up with friends, the onset of winter is our time to wind down and catch up on months’ worth of sleep. Ocean City’s a lovely spot in late September. Most of the tourists have left; tens of thousands of VW and Audi fans can practically take over the town. H20 International is generally regarded as the last annual shebang, something of a “farewell to summer” party, and we’re pleased to report that 2008 definitely ended in style.

We rolled into Ocean Downs Racetrack on Saturday morning and set up our home base in a busy section of the vendor area, which provided an excellent view of the weekend’s debauchery (especially Sunday’s Top Dawg competition). Though VWvortex’s Project Turbunnium and Fourtitude’s new Audi S5 were on display, Swedespeed’s Volvo C30 stole the spotlight. Reaction to this car generally runs the gamut between hot and cold, but the boxy two-tone hatch really strikes a chord with VW fans.

The blue Volkswagen Garage housed a bevy of staffers who screenprinted t-shirts and tote bags for the crowd. For the most part, it was an encore of VW’s Waterfest appearance, but that’s certainly not a problem. Who could object to a display that includes cars such as Max, the ’64 Beetle starring in VW’s commercials, or the one-of-a-kind luminescent pearl W12 GTI? Amongst these gems, we also spotted a Golf Country, several Jetta TDI clean diesels, a 350-hp R32 turbo, and an APR 2.0T 4Motion Tiguan.

APR Motorsport’s massive tent was as crowded as always. They brought out one of their race team’s GTIs, featuring a Stage III turbo, APR intercooler, and high-pressure fuel pump, riding low on Koni coilovers. The 2.0 Stage III turbo kit was also showcased in a red 2006 Audi A4 with an APR intercooler and APR/Brembo Stage IV brakes.

C2Motorsports and NGP scored a prime spot as well. It’s always a delight to chat with Chris Collier of C2, and he’s been quite busy since we last saw him at Waterfest. He gave us a few minutes with his turbo Rabbit and turbo R32, and we were so impressed that we’ve just got to spend more time with them. Keep an eye on our homepage for more information about these boosted MKVs. We were also pleased to see Dave Baldwin of NGP’s bright blue MKII 16v turbo with a shaved engine bay.

It’s always fun to spot sleepers, so we took a few minutes to talk to Induktion Motorsports about their fleet. A relatively nondescript gray Jetta on RH wheels was hiding a GT35R turbo mated to Induktion’s own tubular exhaust manifold and short runner intake. According to Induktion, the setup is good for 505 whp and 23 psi.

APTuning caught our attention with a 1991 GTI fully restored and resprayed in BMW Estoril Blue, nicely set off with all new rubber and trim. The engine features JE 2L pistons and rods, GT3076 turbo, ATP manifold, custom downpipe and exhaust, APR manifold, custom APR software, and 1.8T drive by wire conversion, resulting in 390 whp and 330 max. torque. APTuning added a race gear set and Spec Stage III clutch to help distribute all that power.

A United Gray 2007 GTI and Imola Yellow 20th AE GTI were the canvases for Unitronic’s wares. The MKV features an Audi S3 OEM K04 turbo, injectors, and intercooler, along with Unitronic’s Stage II+ tuning, good for 305 hp. The MKIV makes 406 whp with a Garrett GT271R turbo and Unitronic 630 BT software.

Scott Mason’s maroon VR6 is among our favorite MKIIs of all time; based on the crowd it drew to the MasonTech booth, we don’t think we’re alone. Scott’s car helped showcase his display of billet sump savers and VR6 crack pipes.

There were several clothing vendors present, but DubKorps’ high-quality designs, printed on heavy-weight tees and hoodies, seem to have a particular appeal. The distinct and comprehensive military-themed booth was easily among our favorite setups. On the way out, many a customer paused to check out DubKorps’ designer and owner JJ Larson’s white APR Stage III Audi A4 Avant.

Though Sunday was marked by sporadic downpours, the skies cleared enough for us to leave the shelter of our tent and make a few sprints across the show field. Perhaps it’s a stretch, but we think H20’s trademark laid-back atmosphere is a direct influence on the spectrum of cars in attendance. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen so many top-notch MKIs and MKIIs, and it might just be that H20 is more about camaraderie than competition. Regardless of the reason, we were happy to see cars like Roy-John Price’s Rabbit, decked out in orange and blue Gulf racing livery (complete with orange steelies).

Jodi Doyle brought out his Mars Red MKI ABA 2L Jetta, featuring a custom plaid interior and Image wheels. We know Jodi is meticulous, so it’s no surprise that the car was spotless despite the drive from Vermont. Alongside sat Tobi Aldrich’s Pearl White MKI Jetta Coupe 2L with a cleaned-up engine bay and ATS Cups. These gentlemen from New England seem to have sparked a MKI Jetta renaissance, and it was a pleasure to see these two inspiring cars together.

Andy Nixon brought a prime example of MKII OEM+ goodness. His Montana Green GTI features a 1.8T conversion, Rallye Golf grille and headlights, ABT wheels, and Canadian Corrado Recaro seats. We also liked Rich McGowan’s blue Jetta with a shaved engine bay, color-coded VR6 conversion, and Keskin wheels.

A Viper Green Scirocco stood out from the crowd, and owner Sheri Zeiders of Pennsylvania provided a photo album with details of the build. We were most impressed by the VR6 conversion, but we also liked the interior, which featured custom green plaid seats with black bolsters. Thumbs up to Sheri for showing off her awesome work.

We’ve got a particular fondness for the Harlequin Golf, and Ben Jernigan’s taken his to the next level. Not only has he added a BBM supercharger to his 2L, the engine components have been color-coded in the Harlequin palette.

Jason and Kate Kress have been working hard since we last saw Roxy, their flat green VR6 MKIII Golf project. The burnished saddle leather seats we loved so much have been removed, but we bet they’ve still got a few more surprises yet to uncover.

Wendell Peifer’s Futura Yellow GTI looked classy with mostly OEM upgrades. MKV mirrors, 19” Huffs, and an S3 engine cover gave the car a comprehensive appearance; a Projektzwo grille finished off the exterior. Another MKIV that caught our attention was Freddie Saez’s aggressive Jetta wagon, two-toned in black and Mojave Beige, finished off with a carbon fiber hood.

We admired a flat gray Corrado with a full B6 S4 drivetrain and biturbo engine conversion, and a flat blue widebody Beetle on color-coded Raderwerks wheels with black headlights. There wasn’t much in the way of old-school Audis, but we loved Michael Bee’s metallic brown 1991 Audi 200 20v turbo quattro wagon, with a set of BBS wheels framing Brembo front brakes.

According to H20 International organizer Jay Shoup, attendance was strong. Weekend tallies showed a total of 1060 registered show cars, more than 60 vendors, and more than 6500 spectators. Overall, H20 was a satisfying and inspiring close to the season, and we at VWvortex are already geared up for 2009. We plan to spend the winter working on our project cars, ramping up our show presence for next summer, and, as always, bringing fresh content to our beloved readership. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth to chat. We look forward to seeing you next summer.

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