August 14, 2000

Waterfest...A Little Too Literal
Article and photos by George Achorn

Upper Montclair, NJ - It had to happen sooner or later. What has become the largest East Coast event on the VW enthusiast's calendar was finally stricken with a little bit of rain. Regardless, the show has continued to show solid growth in spite of being held in a venue where the lack of room has become painfully evident.

For those not familiar, Waterfest was started as a New York regional show by Rapid Parts of Monsey, NY. Over the past few years, it has grown to its current impressive magnitude. In addition to a show area, it also officially features an autocross, tuner booths, swap meet area, audio sound off, and the new Ms. Waterfest Pageant.

Unofficially, the show features even more. The night before the Sunday main event, most attendees can be found at one of the local recommended event hotels. This year's spot, a Ramada Inn, was taken over by Volkswagen owners of all types. The parking lot offered a show of its own that included smoky tire burnouts and performance demonstrations when the hotel's security was not around.

Another unofficial part, a Waterfest staple, is the show going on in the parking lot outside. With the car show area sold out weeks ahead of time, a plethora of nicely modified VWs and Audis never even get to the main gate. These cars are prodigiously numerous and well worth a cruise through the parking area to see them.

Inside, the show featured many cars that aren't often seen at most of the North East events of the summer. Caravans of VW and Audi owners and tuners arrive from distant locales to make a showing here.

Typically, many of the Waterfest show cars feature extravagant display areas that border on the obscene. Thankfully this year there was more of a focus on the cars and less on how they were shown.

Though open to Audis, Waterfest hasn't really become as popular with that camp as it has with Volkswagen. Nevertheless, an impressive collection of the cars did manage to make an appearance.

Several modified S4s could be seen, and two silver TTs also made a showing. But, with the exception of one A6, the rest of the modern Audi cars were all A4s.

That's not so though for the old school cars. Though not high in numbers, a significant mix of cars did attend. Of particular note was a 4000 quattro with 10-valve conversion. Another very cleanly done car that isn't often seen was a late model 90 quattro sedan in Pearl White.

Over at the autocross, several Audis made attempts at the course. Someone ran a TT coupe that didn't fair badly. A previous body style A6 Avant with Avus rims also made an attempt, but on a course where Rabbits and Sciroccos looked too large, the car's size and weight did not help it at all.

Audis could also be found by the Air & Water Enterprises tent. AWE's own modified A4 1.8T sedan could be found there in addition to a stunning new silver S4. The S4, massaged by a GIAC chip, exhaust and some other modifications was disturbingly fast the night before as it left the Ramada parking lot.

Waterfest remains a predominately Volkswagen show for now, and this was quite evident in the attendance of show cars. Newer Volkswagens were present in large numbers. Unlike last year when the A4-chassis cars were still so new, the modern Golfs, Jettas and New Beetles are beginning to show serious depth and selection in modifications performed to them.

Mk-3 cars were obviously the most common car there. VR6 equipped Cabrios are becoming almost commonplace, but remain just as striking. Syncro all-wheel-drive has even begun to be utilized, as was evident with the Momentum Motorsports Golf Mk-3 1.8T Syncro.

Amongst the A2-based cars, there was much of the same. VR6 equipped examples are now somewhat commonplace at this show. The A2s also seem to be the platform that is seemingly the most favored for application of the Euro look.

Corrados ranged from pristine clean stock examples to wild and monstrous examples. A newcomer to the tuning business, Massachusetts-based Adrenalin Motorsport wowed many the night before with a debut of their silver/blue Corrado 1.8T. The car, originally a G60, also featured a Strictly Foreign body kit that looked surprisingly subtle in the cool blue hue of the Adrenalin Corrado.

The next day, Adrenalin would further outdo themselves with the introduction of a matching silver/blue Scirocco Mk1 1.8T that is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. Currently putting out 240 horsepower, Adrenalin thought much more was possible once they get the software properly tuned.

In addition to the Adrenalin Scirocco, there were several other examples of the A1 cars that have taken tuning and restoration to what is truly an art form. Several A1 Golfs made use of the VW factory aerodynamics kit from late '80s Cabriolets including a dark blue Rabbit and a silver Canadian GTI with 16V transplant. Grabbing gobs of attention was one silver 3-door Golf/ Rabbit. This two-seater with full-on roll cage and Panasport racing wheels was very simplistically built for racing and topped off with what could be one of the cleanest Euro-look inspired exteriors we've seen.

Outside in the parking lot was more of the same. It's a shame that the organizers of Waterfest have yet to find a venue that can accommodate the waves of Volkswagens that descend upon them each year. Clearly a larger show area is needed so that all owners wishing to show their rides can have a fair chance at exposure.

In addition, the Autocross course also appears to have gotten smaller this year and the area for spectators was at an all time low. It would almost seem Rapid Parts is blessed with a problem. Their show seems to have outgrown all of the three facilities they've used thus far. Perhaps they'll have better luck with weather and with locale next year. Though should their attendance wane, Waterfest will remain one of the largest East Coast shows around.

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