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11 May 2018




Text and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis

Ladies and gents: welcome to the 2018 car-show season opener – GTINI’s “Dubshed”.
The harsh, dark and super extended winter this year provided us with more "garage time", that for petrolheads translated into more time to finish the builds for the upcoming season; and going by the standard demonstrated at Dubshed what a season it's going to be. This was the 9th consecutive year for the all-German car show and the third year at its new home - "Eikon" exhibition centre in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. As usual the event took places over 2 days and attracted thousands of car enthusiasts from both Republic and Northern Ireland as well as UK.


What started off as a relatively small and strict "VAG" gathering 9 years ago has turned into the flagship for the Northern Irish car show scene. More relaxed rules from the organisers also resulted in a greater turnout: both display cars and spectators. Dubshed had opened doors to more manufacturers in the last couple of years, and it really turned the show around as variety is the key to success. I even spotted a few JDM goodies hiding in the darkest corners of the Eikon centre this year as well, "yea booooooy"!
However, "VAG boys" have nothing to worry about the show is still primarily dominated by VW as it should be at the end of the day.

The Eikon centre will host a few shows this year, and undeniably it will be very challenging for the remainders to stand out. Northern Ireland is a very small country; creating something unique and presenting something different each time is easier said than done; however, it seems the GTINI crew nail it each year, returning with improvements and fresh ideas over and over again. I really hope the next acts can step it up again, and I am sure they will!

One thing that never ceases to amaze me though is the quality and variety of cars here; gone are the days when taking a VW Golf and installing an air suspension and putting some fancy wheels on it will be classified as show winning “build” and I am happy, really happy to see we (NI) do have style, taste and variety to support multiple shows at the same venue and still retain uniqueness in each and single one of them. 


In general; however, we still do follow the global trend; 2018: still a lot of stretch, a lot of lows, a lot of shiny wheels, and more-so: wider bodykits dominate the “car fashion" scene. We can see how this could go very wrong, very fast - no car enthusiast wants to see similiar vehicles at the show; however, GTINI did a great job on vehicle selection for the show making sure we get to enjoy a great variety. Niiiice! 


But let's be honest, cars at shows isn't everything. What else is there you ask me? The social aspect of the car scene is what really matters the most. I think I speak for many car enthusiasts – we can enjoy the cars, we can enjoy the show, but sooner or later they do get repetitive, boring and off-putting. Car shows are a chance to meet old friends, gain new friends, speak to fellow petrolheads and build memories. Cars are just a bonus. And Dubshed has always served as a great welcome to the social aspect as it is the first show of the year. 

Luckily the show organisers also understood the basics of having a good time; it could have been easy for them just to concentrate on cramping in as many cars in a hall as humanly possible and leave it at that, yet they didn’t. Aside the epic cars crowds also got entertainment in various forms: from r/c racing to racing simulators, various traders and food venders - there was something for everybody.


GTINI co-hosts ILB Drivers Club play a huge role in the "Dubshed" and this year they occupied a rather large area of the show. As usual they showcased quite a few spectacular cars on their stand along their shop and "chill-stall". The social media gurus/ videographers/photographers and just car enthusiasts were out in force documenting, photographing, selling merchandise, socialising and generally just having fun.

If there was one thing that didn't go per plan for the organisers it was the usual suspect - THE WEATHER. We really didn't get spoilt for weather this year; I felt really sorry for the cars outside.

But you know what, it really didn't seem to bother many, including me. Sadly I didn't get to see the cars outside but it gave me enough to time to sit down with feet up and enjoy some gorgeous chips and coffee and catch up with some more friends.


Judging a show is one helluva task that I do not enjoy. It is impossible to please everybody and it requires a lot of time to do right; we also all have our opinion on style and quality. As of recent I have decided to avoid the prize givings and ignore the winners and make my own list of cars that were worthy of a mention. There were two cars that immediately stood out for me: and they were: 

Audi 100 Coupe 

This car made its debut last year at the "Built" event where it immediately snatched the Top 10 prize, as it literally was one of the rare cars where the owner could say : "built not bought"!. The work that had gone into the restoration of this vehicle is spectacular. It is also perfectly documented in pictures and could be seen in the folder he took along with him to the show. Epic restoration, epic car!

Ford Escort MKII 

Like the Audi above this Ford Escort MKII also made its appearance at the Built event last year, and yes - it also grabbed a trophy at it, but it doesn't mean it shouldn't get more in the future. The classic relationship between a Pinto and Ford has been broken and instead the MKII was partnered up with a Nissan's finest - SR20 turbo engine. This love story alone is worth a win in my books. It is finished to the highest standard and equally impressive due to it's engine swap.


Funny how I actually have zero interest in BMWs yet some of my favourite cars from the show were actually the Bavarians. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Aaron Black's BMW 318is E30 

Aaron had been working on this beauty for a while now and I don’t think a lot of people expected it to be finished yet. What's even more impressive is the fact that all the work and paintwork was carried out by Aaron himself. Hands down an epic car. Well done.

BMW E30 Hill Climber 

I’ve been admiring this car at every event I have ever seen it at. A show car that is fully functioning and isn't afraid to rip up the tarmac as it was intended to by its maker is a winner in my books. The Group A homologated BMW M3 E30 was one of the greatest sports car this planet had ever seen – FACT!

Adam’s BMW E28 

ILB pioneer Adam had both his German machines under the stand at Dubshed; however, the E28 was the clear show stopper if you ask me. Adam had just collected his car back from England where it received a beautiful interior overhaul. The Recaros received a tasteful retro restyling and now completed the classic look, I like it a lot. 

Marky’s BMW 325 E36 

For an ordinary man or woman 7 days to complete a show car would be an impossible task, but not for Marky from PMP Bodyshop; not only he managed to finish the car in time, he also made sure he didn’t cut corners on the final quality of the build. The BMW 325 was treated to air suspension, custom BMW M5 alloys and widebody kit. Inside the car Marky swapped the boring seats to full buckets and installed a Nardi steering wheel and “custom” gear knob in the shape of screwdriver. Never know, may come handy…


Race car + Race Livery = WIN. Rothman’s livery is well known worldwide and decorated a lot of rally and race cars in the past. It is nice to see it being revived on more modern vehicles. The E92 sat on Fifteen 52 formula GT wheels with custom turbofans. The rear window was equipped with a retro looking window louvers. Love it. 

And there were so many more other epic BMWs present , was it really a VAG show? :)


Peter Matthews B5 Audi A4

A car that didn’t go unnoticed was Peter Matthew’s race car style inspired B5 Audi A4. “Murdered out” and finished with a full carbon front end it did look striking up close. It was lowered on H&R coilovers and equipped with 19" OZ Ultraleggeras. It may be not the usual style of Peter but for me it was his best work yet.

Another S4 that attracted a lot of attention was Chris Darragh’s grey Audi S4 that sat on OZ Futuras slammed on air and “in your face” yellow custom interior. Simple yet effective car that has been finished to a great standard.

Did I come to Dubshed expecting I will see something different this year – no is the honest answer, but probably this is why I actually really had an amazing time. For a change I had no expectations and just arrived to relax, take some photos and meet some old and new friends. And you know what, this is really when I realised that’s what Dubshed is to me – just a great atmosphere where to enjoy some cars, friends and just prepare myself for the car show season. Well done to GTINI and the rest involved.

Here’s to the 2018 season!


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