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28 July 2009

Light, small, simple: the virtues of the first generation of water-cooled Volkswagens are easy to define. Be they Guigiaro-designed Rabbits (a.k.a. Golf I) and Sciroccos, or other VW variants like the first-gen Jetta, second-gen Scirocco, the Cabriolet or the Westmoreland-built Rabbit Pickup, these cars have a fierce following by both rabid owners and specialty shops who specialize in parts for the eldest of watercooled VW statesmen. It’s no surprise then that a show like Mk1 Madness put on by DCI shares the lean-and-mean virtues of the cars it honors and that its attendees are truly devoted fans.

mk1 montana

Held in southeast Pennsylvania in the shadow of the Maple Grove Speedway, Mk1 Madness was a full-weekend event this year, with visitors invited to show up on Friday. Saturday was laid back with a barbecue, cruise and karaoke at a local bar. Sunday was the main event, including the judged show and swap meet. As with many shows we’ve seen with a tight-knit enthusiast base, this event isn’t just about the show.

mk1 rabbit

By the time Sunday’s main event rolled around, there was a truly amazing mix of early watercooled VW metal. The rows of cars were much as you would expect. There was an eclectic mix of veteran survivors, Rat-style customs, pristine jewels and the a number of intricately built project cars. Of the latter, OEM-plus is often the norm with the traditional cues like duck bill spoilers, Zender kits, euro lights and BBS RS2s.

Most of our favorites were of this subtle-yet-seriously modded ilk, though one car that was a Mk1 technically, if not by common definition, was a first-gen Polo. This right-hand drive UK Derby – basically a notchback coupe – was modded in a severely untraditional JDM way with chrome mirrors on the front fenders and even riveted Datsun fender flares. It certainly broke from the modding norm at the event, but was just as tasteful and made plenty of friends.

Even on show day, the atmosphere was relaxed. Attendees were more apt to be trading notes or sharing a good source for a hard-to-find part. The dog show atmosphere of many judged show events was refreshingly absent, and there seems nearly as much love for a high mileage diesel Caddy as a former H20 Top Dawg Scirocco – both truly impressive in their own right.




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