It's the run up to Easter, one of our busiest times of the year, so what possess us to send a whole load of our management team all the way to Belgium for an event? Especially with plenty of our show team off kicking it at Japfest Silverstone 2022 for the weekend? Well, because this is GR8 of course, and we absolutely love it!
Besides, there's nothing quite like a proper AF road trip, and the search for the best cars in Europe - or the world in fact - isn't always a case of popping around the corner. Sometimes you just have to go further afield. And, there's no denying that one of the biggest indoor events on the continent is a GR8 place to start!
Even more than that though, we just love to get out there and support our distributors in the quest for world domination, so we loaded up and headed down to the Euro Tunnel with our AirStream Mobile store and both of our Mk1 Caddy builds (The OG and The V2) in tow, ready to meet up with the guys from Auto Finesse Belgium on the other side.
So, here's all the action from the show and, as it turns out, they definitely got the name right. They certainly don't call it GR8 for nothing!
So, what's this massive event all about? Well, the car magazine game is still strong on the continent and GR8 Magazine is one of the most respected out there. This event is simply an extension of their brand, and they lay on this full weekender because you just can't smell, hear and often taste these awesome rides in mere pictures. Makes sense, right?
Nowadays this event takes over six huge halls in the enormous Kortrik Xpo, not far from the French border, and you'll see over 500 of the very best cars that Europe has to offer on display. But first of course, you've got to get there. And while it may sound like a mission of epic proportions, it's only actually a couple of hours from Calais, through some stunning countryside to boot, almost making it worth the trip alone.
What's great for us is that we arrived early on the Friday before the event, giving us plenty of time to set up our mobile store pride of place in the main hall. And, naturally, to get our pre-prepped VW duo wiped down and buffed to perfection. All this is pretty lucky because we'd almost forgot that it takes almost as long to walk through this massive venue as it does to get there in the first place!
As for the cars on display, to soak them all in takes a little (okay a lot) more walking, but we're good with that because each and every one of them is a stunner. What you get here is nothing but the crème de la crème (or the Belgian equivalent), and what's even better for us is that setting up on the Friday give us the chance to get around them all first without the thousands of visitors getting in the way. When those doors open on the weekend it's fair to say that GR8 gets a little packed out, our stand was rammed for two days solid!
Looking at the perfectly-finished show cars on display though, you'll find quite the variety, especially when it comes to the diverse mix of mods and styles. And while, as you'd fully expect, most come from the usual European marques, there still seemed to be a surprise around every corner - everything from old skool Americana, to trucks, bikes, Japanese cars and even the odd HGV. What they all had in common though is the standard, the build-quality and finishing here was right up there with the world's very best big money showstoppers. And, while we couldn't possibly go through every single one of them here, we can bring you just a few of our favourites, including an extra special gallery that may well inspire your next build…
You might say that, just attending the event and seeing the cars we had a GR8 weekend then, and you'll be 100-percent correct in that assumption. But, we have to say that, what made it just that little bit more special is that the very first outing where our recently-built Caddy V2 could be judged, it picked up one of Europe's most coveted GR8 Top 50 Trophies. You can see more of this build in the full feature - Projects Spotlight: Mk1 VW Caddy V2.
In any case, the trip to Belgium was an absolute cracker for all concerned, and don't forget that it's only a couple of hours from Calais, so you'll be able to get yourself along there without any trouble next year, right? In fact, it'll be a whole lot faster if you're not dragging a huge Airstream Trailer and a load of cars with you, too! Keep an eye on gr8mag.be for updates, and we'll see you there!