The Worthersee GTI Festival (also known as the Worthersee Treffen) is an event like few others on the global car scene.
Sprung from a German Father’s Day tradition where the patriarchs gather together in a semi-remote location to drink as much beer as possible, the Austrian lakeside town of Worthersee’s fest has gradually evolved to the point where it draws more than just Volkswagen-owning dads. In its 36th year, 200,000 spectators, drivers, and VW fans now flock to the hamlet on the combined Father’s Day / Ascension Day long weekend (named after the German tradition of observing Jesus Christ’s ascent into heaven 40 days after Easter).
In fact, there were seemingly as many women as men at Worthersee at the 2017 running of the event, a testament to the cross-gender realities of the German and Austrian car tuning scenes, but also a nod to the universal appeal that Volkswagen’s GTI hot hatch has had almost since it first went on sale. VW stays largely hands-off these days in terms of sponsoring Worthersee, preferring to let the grassroots organizers have their way with the low-key, open-spirited festival, but that hasn’t put a damper on the fun. With hundreds of cars cruising the streets of the town at a virtual standstill, and double their number parked in every conceivable spot, there’s no shortage of metal to gawk at.
This is especially true if you’re looking for weirdness. Check out the 12 most unusual cars we saw this year at the 2017 Worthersee Treffen.
The Leopard GTI
We can dig the boxy aesthetic of this GTI’s body kit, with the rectangular headlights matching the pooper-scooper airdam and whale-tail rear spoiler. It’s a little harder to understand the majestically haunting portrait of a leopard hunting the night airbrushed onto the car’s bright yellow hood. Don’t get us wrong — we’re terrified by its mighty power — but wouldn’t this look better on the side of a ’70s-era Chevy van?
The Horny Unicorn
Literally translated, that reads “Eat my stardust slowpokes – horny, horny, horny.” Unicorns have horns, so…benefit of the doubt, right?
Opinions are mixed on this GTI wearing an Audi front clip, mostly because, well, it’s also boasting an Audi sport badge on the grille. Is there enough under the hood to back up the bravado? We couldn’t locate the owner, but the vehicle’s mixture of right angles and round curves were unique to Worthersee.
Rat Rods Everywhere
Rat rods aren’t exactly weird, but the way the Germans do them is a little different than what you’ll find on a Discovery Channel reality show. Case in point: this hatch’s checkerboard hood, big basket of junk (a popular rat rod touch at Worthersee), and license plates seemingly riveted into the front fender as a structural element.
The Influence of Dominic Toretto
In case the font didn’t give it away, that’s a German translation of “I don’t have friends, I have family,” which has become the battle-cry of the entire Fast and Furious franchise of films. This might have been the biggest proclamation of the Toretto faith we witnessed at Worthersee, but the sticker showed up on a number of other cars in various shapes and sizes all over town.
Pampers Bomber Crew
If you’ve got a wagon and you’ve also got kids, then why not let the world know that by plastering the words “Pampers BOMBER” on the back window of your twin Passat wagons? Not sure what the puzzle pieces are supposed to mean, but does it really matter?
When approached, the passenger in this GTI would vigorously animate the zombie in an attempt to terrify/titillate/delight you. What more can you ask for, really, from a GTI with a blood-red interior?
Crazy Window Grilles
At first, we thought that these hardcore-looking grilles were so you could leave your windows down without someone casually breaking into your car. We saw them almost everywhere, but then we realized that side opening is more than large enough to slip a hand through? Alternate theory: baby gates for dogs. How long before these start showing up at your local cars and coffee?
VW Polo Jeans
Back in the ’70s, Volkswagen made a number of jeans-themed cars, including the Beetle and the Polo. There weren’t very many of them built, and few survive today to show off their “blue-jean leather” interiors. This was the only one we ran into at Worthersee.
Audi S4 All-Leather Edition
Yes, that’s an Audi S4 Cabriolet completely wrapped in leather, inside and out. No, you can’t get it wet.
Oh Look, Another Rat Rod
We just couldn’t let this one pass — rusted from roof to rockers, what looks like a sled on the roof, running boards on the back bumper to give your buddies a ride, and a sticker on the side window that says “This vehicle has not been abandoned” in French to make sure you don’t get towed for being a menace to public safety.
Heidiland is a beautifully scenic part of Switzerland named after Johanna Spyri’s book Heidi. It’s also the theme of this unforgettable GTI Cabriolet. Yes, the interior matches.
Discuss this article on our Volkswagen Forum