From the moment we stepped off the boat and walked down the pier, it was a gushfest of epic proportions and made our more recent reaction to the CX-3 seem positively blasé.

“Omigod, look, Race-Taxi!”

“Sweet, a Mk2 Jetta!”

“Oh, crap, check out this Scirocco!!!”

“Damn, check out the BBS wheels on that GTI!”

For a while we were just running around like headless chickens that didn’t know where to start with our clucking and pecking.

But let’s rewind a bit. We were on the southern shore of Worthersee, a lake in the Austrian Alps dotted with quaint little resort towns, this particular town called Reifnitz. Most weeks of the year it must be a sleepy little place, but every year in the middle of May, it is bursting at the seams with hordes of German and Austrian GTI and Golf and Corrado and Scirocco owners descending to share their love of all things Volkswagen (and Audi and Seat and even a smattering of Porsches and Mercedes…). And to drink. Seriously, we got there around 10 am and there were already some folk wobbling around, beer or schnapps in hand.

What is your favourite Volkswagen of all time?

What started out 34 years ago as a small gathering of friends with their GTI getting together to drink in honour of Father’s Day (Father’s Day in Germany is May 14) grew and grew and grew to the point that thousands flock to this little town, with thousands of cars cruising through, camping out in designated lots or staying in the vicinity.

It’s really hard to comprehend the sheer volume of VW-ness that descends on the town, and we actually only experienced one day out of over a week of different cars and people coming through.

While I can’t recount the entire history of the VW brand, I can briefly touch on some of the key makes and models that were on display. Of course, any VW lineage starts with the Beetle, brainchild of Adolf Hitler to get Germans into cheap, simple transportation for the masses (well, at least those of the German masses that he wasn’t trying to kill). The task was contracted to Ferdinand Porsche, and he landed on the rear-engined, rear-drive goofy looking hunchback we’ve all come to know and love. Porsche then went on to use these bones to branch off a line of sports cars. You may have heard of them. They’re called Porsches. 😉

Volkswagen went on to build over 21 million of these little punch buggies around the world, and while the original finally ended its production run in 2003, the new Beetle lives on into a second generation as a front-engine, front-drive car utilizing VW’s extensive parts sourcing.

Here at the GTI Treffen, there were several noteworthy Beetles, but none moreso than a matte black example with some sinister red and silver alloy wheels, with a minty green Schnappsmobile another favourite. Somehow, I missed possibly the best Beetle of all, but Jamie Vondruska of VW Vortex captured it in his epic gallery – check it out here. Now someone needs to explain to me what the thing is with the skis…

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