Dragging ourselves out of bed to rendezvous at Volkswagen of America's new headquarters in Herndon, VA proved especially difficult this morning. Yet when we finally arrived at the building we were overwhelmed by what greeted us. Taking pride of place was the much-anticipated W12 GTI 650. This mid-engined Bentley-powered RWD GTI boasts the aforementioned 650hp and was flanked by the RGTI and several other special projects. We also got a glimpse of a lowered Tiguan. Fitted with just wheels and suspension, the mini-SUV looks incredible with relatively effort - we can't wait to see what VW has in store for the vehicle at this year's SEMA show.
In addition, the folks at VW had prepared a breakfast table for the 90 or so registered Kreuzers who lined the building's driveway and packed part of its parking structure.
With a deadline of 3pm to arrive at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ in order to give the Kreuzers a chance to experience the facility's small road course. This meant sustaining a good pace needed over the 200-mile route.
With more cars joining us at a brief rest stop, the convoy was broken into small groups by successive traffic jams. Although, we have to commend Rob Michaels and his passenger Sam who stuck with us in their flat green-painted Audi A4 widebody on Carlsson Mercedes wheels. Theirs was the only car who arrived at the track with us, although the remainder followed soon after.
Unfortunately, we arrived at our destination after the deadline, but the track owners graciously extended the allotted time. This meant the majority of those who wanted to drive the track got the opportunity.
We paced the event in a GLI fitted with a string of parts lifted from the TDI Cup race series. Fitted with Alcon brakes, Bilstein PSS9 suspension, 18" Ronal wheels, a throaty exhaust and the "Thunder Bunny" front spoiler, the car looked right and drove well. It again reinforced the flexibility of the current VW Jetta and Golf platforms.
One of the highlights of the event was not only watching the W12 GTI roar up the driveway at VW's HQ as well as seeing the C2/fifteen52 Rabbit turbo in the flesh. We've covered this car in the magazine and you can read about it in the www.eurotuner.com blogs. We particularly like its Mk2 GTI-style fender flares that really help to link this new car to its roots. We'll have a full feature on the car when it gets its 4Motion drivetrain.
For the past two Kreuzerfest's, I've had the pleasure of bringing up the South Leg. Both years started in Virigina, but this year's was much different. It was the first year we've collaborated with Volkswagen to start the cruise at its headquarters, something et has wanted for a long time. But since its base camp has always been in Michigan, it was too hard and distant to coordinate. Now with its new facility just minutes from Dulles International Airport, we had one of the most memorable Kreuzerfests ever!
Nearly 100 VW/Audi owners came out this year and got a first-hand glimpse at VW's new home. The building uses very modern construction built mostly of glass. The inside features six floors including a full gym, cafeteria, museum and other cool features such as a Max display, the aircooled Beetle in the commercials. Construction isn't done yet so if you missed this year's Kreuzerfest, don't worry. Hopefully next year we'll get the full tour!Of course, the icing on the cake was the debut of the GTI W12 650. Seeing the concept car in person was better than what I imagined. The craftsmanship perfect, the carbon immaculate, even the details in the interior was phenomenal. The show car didn't disappoint. Before the drive, VW staff started the car up for the crowd and drove it around the parking lot. To my surprise, the W12 was quiet and calm. Even during acceleration, it didn't pull away like how a true 600+hp car should. As a disclaimer, the car is worth over $5 million USD and insurance wasn't granted for driving the car. We quickly concluded the car was heavily detuned. A noble show car but its lack of functionality truthfully sucks. Although visually appealing, the R GTI is a better car overall with over 12k miles on its odometer. It still runs reliable and strong without any problems and could probably kick the W12's ass.
So after the presentation of the W12, a short driver's meeting was held and we were off to Englishtown. Unfortunately, this year's drive was probably the most disconnected one. Every car was split up due to traffic, waiting at the tolls or simply cars overheating. The weather for the entire weekend passed 100 F on several occasions making it unfriendly for weaker-cooled cars. This didn't mean the some of the best VW/Audi cars on the East Coast weren't going to attend. On the drive, I was mostly impressed with Mark Porudominksy's '04 VW GTI 1.8T with primer paint, custom HPS and Firestone air bag setup, pulled fenders, 18" gold Work VS-XX wheels and shaved body. He's one of the only brave souls to make the trek from Florida without any sleep so I give him props.
My other favorite car on Kreuzerfest was Bijan Tarashi's '81 Caddy. Now I should mention, I'm not a huge Mk1 Caddy lover, but Bijan's masterpiece stopped me in my tracks. Equipped with complete Euro bumpers, 15x8/9" BBS RM wheels, chrome accents, 2.0 ABA motor, Weitec coilovers and rlled fenders, it's my definition of how a Caddy should be done.