For many of us the start of July has always marked the much anticipated Castlewellan Show. The show is hosted by the GTINI (organisers of Dubshed and Titanic Dubs amongst other events) crew at Castlewellan Forest Park, County Down. The venue itself is stunning, with the Mourne Mountains providing an incredible backdrop for the show and great photo opportunities.


There was much debate as to whether the sun would show it’s face for the day with everyone sharing daily MET office updates in the lead up to the show. It rained very heavily the night before the show and continued throughout Saturday morning. Thankfully the clouds burnt off and the sun shone through, likely due to the goat sacrificed to the cause!

Goats aside, the quantity and quality of modified car shows in Northern Ireland has been on the up at an impressive rate in recent years and is now of comparable calibre of those held in the mainland UK. Castlewellan was a great example of this with the show well attended and excellent cars on display.




Castlewellan is attended by local enthusiasts primarily as opposed to Dubshed which now attracts an international crowd. There were however cars which had endured long drives from the south of Ireland, such as Ronan Hickey, a well renowned traveller, beard possessor and MkI owner from Cork. He’s also a pretty hilarious dude when you can make out what he is saying. Ronan’s better half Colleen also joined us for the day and hats off to her for receiving the sexist banter as well as she did. Oh, and cheers for the cupcake!


Back onto the cars…



One thing we love about the VAG scene is the mix of old and new, and standard or heavily modified cars. All niches were well represented.


I’ve had a look around this MkI Polo a few times and its a lovely example of the marque. Great to see something that is exactly how it would have left the showroom back in the late 70s.




A VAG show wouldn’t be a VAG show without a few examples of aired or hydro’d golfs with some well suited wheels. Clark Caughey’s (Founder of Fitted State) MkV on stepped BBS RS’s was a favourite of ours. This car has received a bit of a makeover since last year which a full respray from its original blue to black midnight purple and a wheel swap amongst other subtle changes. To be honest I wasn’t convinced on the new colour when the car was debuted at Dubshed earlier this year, but it looks absolutely incredible under natural sunlight!



Paul Hicklin’s bagged Tornado Red MkVI also looked the part on a set of Brada Wheels.



Now onto those who ball hard, the static crew…




Ben Emersons MkV GTI and Kyle Jackson’s S3 were amongst the lowest cars at the show and no airbags or hydraulics in sight. Both cars are fitted with Still Static coilovers based on high quality H&R suspension units. Ben’s car is fitted with 110mm versions and Kyle is running 140mm’s. Having had a quick spin in Ben’s car recently I’m really impressed by the ride quality at the cars current height. Oh, and if anyone is interested in a set of Still Static coils for their car hit up Kyle on Facebook.



The lads headed down to the bodyshop on Friday night to collect and reassemble the S3 after receiving a full respray and serious de-cluttering of the engine bay. It sounds like things got a bit manic down there with lights, wheels and trim being bolted back on whilst the painter continued to finish flatting and polishing the freshly painted panels.





The car drew one hell of a crowd when it rolled into the show on Saturday. We were convinced that it’d take a few more days to reassemble but the guys pulled out all the stops to get it there. The work done on the engine bay is first class. All engine ancillaries have been hidden away where possible and the bay has been smoothed perfectly. Any unnecessary bolt studs or holes have been removed or flushed however original impressions in the bulkhead and side panels have been maintained to keep the bay relatively OEM looking. TFSI’s are a messy looking engine bay from the factory and Kyle’s done a pretty impressive job of tidying this bay. In my opinion this is how an engine bay should be done…

Another lad who had a busy week in the run up to the show is Connor McCann (rumoured to also own a Polo). Connor’s car has had a serious makeover in recent months including a VR6 transplant, respray from red to MkI Manilla Green and face mounted BBS. The car was at its first show in its new guise at MLVW Mullingar. What can I say… I’m a fan of your work…


Having just been rebuilt some teething problems were to be expected. The car wouldn’t hold in 5th on the way down to the show however they struggled on regardless and made it there ok. However, luck ran out on the way home whenever the box finally cried enough. Initial thoughts were shift linkages however it was surmised that the box had ran dry due a leaky gearbox seal and a lift home was required!


So with a week until Castlewellan show a replacement gearbox had to be sourced and fitted. Connor then decided to paint the engine, engine bay and a few components as the engine and box had to be removed. The bay on this looks really clean now and definitely finishes the car off nicely! This car really is a true home built hero with ALL work being completed by Connor and friends including the paint job! Serious dedication was required to get it to the show, fair play to you sir. For me this is what the Autolife is all about, with friends pulling all the stops to prep cars before shows!


Another few of our favourites from the show were Robin Ashfield’s SXI deep blue pearl MKIV R32 on 19″ BBS GT’s. This car is completely immaculate!





The prizes were dished out around 4.30 by the GTI seniors and juniors, winners list below…



Prize Winners List
Top 10 VAG (No Order)
Grey leon Cupra – 05 TS 4572
Blue over cream aircooled beetle – NTW 264C
Silver Karmann Ghia – CTV 182K
Jazz blue MKIII Golf – RDZ 511
Orange MKI polo – TOI 322
Red Audi S3 – V10 KMS
Silver MKI Golf – VIA 2954
Black Purple MKV Golf – DV55 XOX
Red MKII Golf – B289 HFF
RED MKII Golf – 89 D 6805

Best British – Sierra Bosworth J22 COS
Best Jap – Blue Toyota Aristo H19 ANO
Best EURO – Silver Merc RUI 9617
Best BMW – Red 5 series JIB 528

Car of the show RUNNER UP – Blue MKI Golf 77-MN-591
CAR OF THE SHOW – Brown 6N Polo – 98 C 15093

The show ground emptied out relatively quickly after prize giving but a few of us waited around for a while after the show and take advantage of the good weather with some shots of our own cars, courtesy of Reinis Babrovskis.



John’s MKII’s were first up and promptly joined by Derek Cheshire 20VT Oak Green MKII. (Quick thanks to Adam Sharratt for bring the 16V MKII down for the show!)


Jayme’s polo on its recently fitted 17×8.5 BBS CH’s was next to utilise Reinis’ talents…


All in all, it was a fantastic show. Thanks to the GTINI crew for organising another great event, we are all eagerly awaiting Titanic Dubs in September! For those of you who haven’t made it to the Castlewellan show before, we highly recommend you get it entered into your diary for next year. Dates to be released in due course..
Words: Jayme Hill, John Moag
Photos: Reinis Babrovskis, John Moag