Des Plaines, Ill., August 17, 2008 — By mid-August, the boundless energy of summer starts to dissipate, and the idea of traveling ‘round the country for car shows loses a lot of luster. Fortunately, one of the Midwest’s best VW shows is right in VWvortex’s backyard.
Midwest Treffen is hosted by Chicago Volkswagen Organization, on the picturesque grounds of Oakton Community College in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines. It’s long been one of our favorite opportunities to meet up with local VW owners, scout out potential feature cars, and even show off some of our own rides. This year was no exception, and we thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing 80-degree and sunny day.
All told, 203 show cars were registered. Attendance was up slightly from 2007 (the weekend was marked by constant rain), but lagged behind 2006's record numbers. CVO committee member Sara Murray said that fuel prices may have been a factor, since 90% of attendees came from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin; in past years, the show's attracted more participants from outside the Chicago region.
The Dub Club Invitational, which issues forth a friendly challenge to the many VW groups in the region, is a long-running and popular component of Treffen. Saturday's events consist of an autocross and a drag strip session; on Sunday, each club selects a car to compete in the show event. All events are scored and points are tallied to determine the winning club. Team Bag Tag came out on top this year, but four other Midwest clubs (CVO, St. Louis, VENOM, and dubnoxious) came together for a solid showing. The Invitational added a healthy dose of excitement to the weekend and gave showgoers the opportunity to demonstrate the versatility of their cars.
Another unique component of Treffen is the Corrado Rush event. Every few years, Corrados from all over the Midwest join up to storm into Chicago; we counted 30 'Rados by mid-afternoon, comprising the largest class of the show. Participants included a gorgeous wine metallic widebody VR6 turbo (which could be yours for only $28,000). We got to catch up with a VWvortex feature car, Clint Maryonovich's Diamond White Pearl G60, and are pleased to report that it’s sparkling as ever.
The Corrado contingent was just one class of many packed with clean vintage watercooled VWs. We’re always a little surprised when Cabriolets outnumber Rabbits, especially in a northern climate, but the soft-top bunny appears to be a popular summer car amongst Chicagoans. The MKI Rabbit class also featured an orange 16V Rabbit and a Caddy sporting MKII big bumpers.
Morgan Barclay’s completely custom MKII Jetta was definitely one of the more unique entries. Morgan’s been documenting his build on the forums for over two years, and we’re intrigued by the way his project is coming together. He’s one of the most talented welders and fabricators out there, his friends tell us, and though he’s modest about his skills, he’s still eager to show off his handiwork. We admired the Maserati seats with hand-fabricated “floating” brackets, one-off grille, and ’89 Chrysler New Yorker rear bumper hugging a smoothed rear end treatment. The dash, sourced from a ’56 Ford, will be the next install. Lesson learned: never assume everything’s been done.
Forum favorite Matt Boppel was in the MKIV Golf section with his ’04 GTI. Although pictures of this car often make the rounds, its appearance in person is a whole ‘nother story. The subtle yet extensive body modifications and three-piece Tracer Tech2 wheels definitely set this Silverstone apart from the masses.
We liked what we saw amongst the Jetta IVs. A white wagon immediately caught our attention, and upon closer inspection, we realized this ’02 estate featured a full R32 conversion. The owner, John Balch, told us he had virtually no mechanical experience until he tore into his car and a couple of donors. Well worth the risk, we say, since John’s Jetta was one of the sweetest family haulers in attendance. Another wagon, this time of the TDI persuasion, was obviously in the throes of the project stage with a mismatched R32 front end swap, but the driver, Dan, assured us there are big changes to come. We hope to catch up with him soon and check in on his progress.
The Rabbits were multiplying like crazy in the MKV class. VWvortex’s own Project Turbunnium made an appearance, and we also spotted an aggressively blacked-out 4-door Rabbit on black Vision wheels. Much like at MIVE Motorstadt in June, though, the Jetta V population appeared to be shrinking, with only a handful of entrants.
We weren’t surprised by the modest number of air-cooleds that turned out — there are usually a few at predominantly water-cooled shows — but we were impressed by their condition. Of the Beetles, we especially liked a particularly stunning dark metallic plum example and a blue ragtop. Alongside the bugs sat a pastel bus bearing Mexico plates, quite clean considering the distance it had traveled.
A lengthy raffle, with prizes donated by Treffen’s sponsors, preceded the show car results. After competing amongst such a unique field of cars, the winners of the classic Euro plate trophies should be proud indeed. Thanks to the work of Chicago Volkswagen Organization and the show’s sponsors, Treffen was a success yet again. Make sure to check out our gallery, which showcases some of the most distinctive Volkswagens in the Midwest.
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