Šabac, Serbia, 31st July to 2nd August, 2015
For us the summer of 2015 was full of classic car meetings and rallies. As an official Beetle maniac, I have been looking forward to attending the jubilee 15th AirKool meet in Šabac. The yearly event everyone on the Serbian and regional AirKool scene knows should not be missed!
The team from our club, Beetle Belgrade, left for Šabac on Friday to set up camp, but we could only join them on Saturday, the main day of the event. Early in the morning, cool air, although it was said that during the day temperatures would rise up to well over 30°C, and an open highway prompted our beloved 1966 Beetle to cruise at a steady 120km/h. Being that fast, we arrived at the camping grounds next to Bejurdelem, the remains of the 15th century Ottoman fort on the bank of the Sava river, in about an hour. There we were greeted by our incredible hosts, Beetle Club Šabac, supported by the City Hall and City Tourist Council. Wherever you looked there were Beetles and T1 and T2 buses! Later, we have learned that a grand total of 101 vehicle attended, not only from Serbia, but also from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro!
Whatever your taste, there was a Beetle to match. The eldest there was a 1952 oval, that could be read as a history book, as it had never been restored, but fixed and modified over the ages and according to the times, and the usually nonexistent budget. The total of four ovals was a sensation, from the mentioned white 52, to the freshly restored and gently lowered green 56, with a striking blue folding roof and yellow interior. The red restomod with original paint. If you prefer originals, a 62 with only a fresh lick of paint and the new tires would interest you, as would a mint 67 or a 68, and a variety of 70s models. If you are into rat rodding, the visitor from Croatia that took the airbrush way to prove that rust is not a crime stood next to its Serbian counterpart, where the effect was achieved by sandpaper and angle grinder. Each boasted the flag of the other on the roof rack. Completing the trio was a 1303, looking as if it were put together from leftover parts, with its rust looking genuine! A special mention should go to the 1970s J beetles, that had been assembled in Sarajevo, and had specific features not found on the German models.
There was no shortage of modified Beetles, from chopped and lowered to heavily tuned ones and more sedate looking sleepers, that did not show the power under the hood from the outside. Some Porsche wheels, whether the 356 or the telephone dial type, double carbs, fuel injection, electronic ignition, wide tires, loud graphics and louder exhaust, brilliant white with a pretzel back window and inverted back lights, not to mention the sound systems that shook the leaves from the trees. Of course, buggies and trikes were completing the modified offering. As for the busses, the perfectly restored grey 63 stood next to the clapped out and brush painted workhorse, eye poppingly foiled advertizing one, as well as the water cooled Brazilian. A striking red and white T1 from Bosnia looked more like a living room that you take your shoes off before entering than a car. But the champion was the barndoor done in the Alcatraz theme, well known at all events in the region.
After a drive through town to the Volkswagen dealership, with the efficient escort of the local traffic police, where the new Beetles met their ancestors, and the ignition issues of the Alcatraz were sorted out in no time, we cruised to the pedestrian zone in downtown Šabac where we parked our drives for everyone to enjoy. Chilling out in the cafes, we have made new friends, spent time with the old ones, and even caught a ride with the organizer in his 56 oval. That was definitely the highlight of the day! We have also learned that the oldest driver was almost 90, and that about 50 AirKool Volkswagens are in daily use in Šabac, while the Beetle population is estimated at about 70. Spending the rest of the day in the shade next to the river Sava with the AirKool gang lead us to the end of an amazing day and the drive back home at a more leisurely 100 km/h. Should you be in or around Šabac next August, and are an AirKool VW fan, be sure not to miss this meet!
Words: Djordje Grujić
Photos: Lea Grujić, Djordje Grujić
Edit: Marc GF Zaan