Terrific Tatton  (October 1995)

Can't miss this opportunity I decided, as I tuned in to the weather forecast on Saturday night. Dry and bright with occasional cloud - sounds like a good day - so off I ventured the following morning, spurred on by the thought of the extra attractions planned for the tenth anniversary of VW North West, in the magnificent grounds and beautiful surroundings of Tatton Park, just three and a half miles north of Knutsford in Cheshire. This is one of the most complete historic estates open to visitors in England. The nineteenth century Wyatt House, set in more than one thousand acres of deer park, contains the Egerton family collection of pictures, books, china, glass, silver and specially commissioned Gillow furniture. It also plays host to what must now be regarded as one of the premier VW events in the country, a gathering that encompasses the interests of virtually all VW enthusiasts, without resorting to funfairs, raves and drive-in movies to swell the gates.

As proof of the popularity of this event, which was efficiently organised by the Volkswagen Northwest Club, the queue for the entrance at one point stretched back quite some distance with people anxious to pay the modest £3.00 entrance fee. Once inside, the first sight - and possibly the most impressive I've ever seen at a VW event - was the line-up of silver metallic Last Edition Beetles, all of which were 'S' registration except for a couple with 'T' plates. As the sunlight glinted across the bonnets they all (well, nearly all) looked factory-fresh, just as though it was 1978 when they were lined up at Wolfsburg awaiting shipment.

There was an excellent turn-out by the traders and this is a major attraction of Volkswagen North West, giving enthusiasts the opportunity to purchase parts and accessories for both air-cooled and water-cooled models at competitive prices. About 60 trade stands encircled the showground and some gave a welcome break from motor accessories by selling other items such as children's toys. Enthusiasts could browse amongst rare motoring books and the latest VW fashions as well as craft and show merchandise. You could even sign up for double glazing although I did wonder if this was relevant for such an event! Premier Garage of Leek were selling genuine Mk 1 Golf front wings for the not unreasonable price of £25 each and one stand was selling Activ8, a 'hydrocarbon service modifier' which claims to reduce friction by up to 90 per cent, improve fuel consumption and restore engine compression. Another new 'wonder product', and one which seemed to be in use amongst many of the concours contestants was 'Dry Wash' a special cleaning fluid that can be applied to a dirty car without need for water. The demonstration looked impressive enough and we'd be interested to hear from anyone who uses this stuff regularly.

A unique feature of VW North West, and especially so this year, is the strong presence of club line-ups. The established VW clubs are offered a plot free of charge to promote their club and to show their vehicles. About 14 took advantage of this offer, including the Trekker Register (including Ken Green's Trekker-based Beetle), the NSU Owners' Club, a red Beetle line-up from the Mexican and Brazilian Register and four metallic blue 1972 'Weltmeisters' trom the Marathon Beetle Register. It was perhaps a shame that a few more of the 95 plus members of the Marathon Register hadn't been able to attend - it would have been nice to see them match the Last Edition lineup. Club GTi, which has a large and loyal membership approaching 1,500, was well represented with a fair number of vehicles lined up behind their distinctive banner, and there was also a strong presence from the Porsche Club GB and the 924/944 Register.

Anyone with Volkswagen parts or accessories that they wished to dispose of merely paid £5 to display their wares on an area set aside for the purpose and I noticed some difficult to obtain parts at very reasonable prices. Just off the main showground was a separate enclosed area where sellers could display their vehicles, the variety of which included a 1956 Oval Beetle, which tcok three years to restore, for £3,999 and an immaculate blue 1959 Beetle for £3,995.

This area was also home to the engine change and the most popular event of the show, the engine destruction, organised by the Type One Motor Company, which brought the crowd running from all over the showground. The main object was to see how long the faithful flat four could run at full throttle with no oil until the inevitable happens. Is this really a fitting end for a Beetle engine?!

The main part of the show was the Concours. The water coolers were sponsored by Deutchcar of Ashton-under-Lyne and the Mk 1 GTi class was won by John Williams with his red Y-registered example and triumphant in the Mk 2 class was Robert Loughrey's silver 16V. The Cal-look Beetle class was won by Michael Garnett and Ron Brown's '65 was class winner in the early Beetle category with Brian Moss taking the post '68 title. Sponsors in these classes were URO Automotive and GT Autospares of Manchester. Alec Reeson's gold 1972 Karmann Ghia was the winner in its group although opposition was scarce with only two other competitors, one of which was a white German registered example. A car familiar to regular VW Motoring readers was Grant Fullerton's 1988 Scala with the 139 bhp 16 valve engine featured in our September '94 issue and seen on our stand at last year's Goodguys GTi Festival. Andrew Dytham's black Corrado 16V, featured in this year's June issue, was also on display.

Second most popular crowd puller of the day, following the engine destruct, was lain Sherriff's hydraulically controlled green Beetle which danced and gyrated to the music. It seems Michael Jackson's got some serious competition from this machine!

Catering facilities were plentiful and taken full advantage of by a large proportion of the visitors. The lengthy queues for the toilets however, mainly for the ladies, proved that there were slight inadequacies in this department (now where have we heard that one before ?

Tatton Park must be one of the finest places to hold an event like Volkswagen North West. If some members of your family don't want to go into the show (though I can't understand why) then they may be interested in the magnificent gardens, Old Hall, Medieval Village Trail, Cycle Hire or the Foresters Walk. Right next to the grassed parking area was an impressively large fenced-off childrens play area with excellent facilities and, of course, the almost compulsory 'bouncy' castle. So next year bring the whole family along and you won't be disappointed.

VW Motoring October 1995

Terrific Tatton

Glyn Walley reports from VW North West - one of the premier VW shows, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year