At the Berkeley Marina Meet on January 21st, Volkswagens were much in evidence. Photos: Linda Hemmila

By Linda Hemmila

On a recent Saturday afternoon, the normally quiet parking lot at Hs Lordships at the Berkeley Marina was transformed into an arena for specialty cars, teeming with enthusiasts and interested passersby who probably didn’t expect to see a dazzling array of custom vehicles on their way to brunch.

Billed as the Berkeley Marina Meet, European car hobbyists who have connected through online forums gather at prearranged spots to share stories and take in each other’s rides. Some come from as far away as San Jose and Sacramento, and many come in caravans attracting curious looks on the freeway. Others are Berkeley locals with familiar looking cars who enjoy the opportunity to show off their work and socialize.

Many of the cars in evidence on January 21st were Volkswagens, as online forum VWvortex had been a conduit to orchestrating the gathering. Also featured were Audis, BMWs as well as a smattering of European models.

Some of the cars on show sport flashy paint jobs

Ken Orozco, who works at Tomas Sport Tuning in Berkeley, said in general the VW and Audi communities are more casual than some of the others. “It’s the kind of thing you can take the family to and enjoy,” he said.

Orozco added that it’s the spirit of community he likes about the meets.

“In my opinion there’s a difference between car shows and the meets. People go to shows for trophies and definitely are more competitive,” he said.  “The meets are more about the people who you’ve talked with on the forums and you get to meet them in person, hang out and get enthusiastic.  It doesn’t matter what you have, and it’s more laid back.”

Some of the cars being shown sport flashy paint jobs, other, vintage, models have been lovingly restored to better-than-original luster. The one thing their owners share is a love for their cars. So they share stories, swap ideas and snap photos.

The fun doesn’t end when the meet disbands. Photos and stories of the event appear on the message boards as discussions take off and another meet is soon planned.

For information about future such meets, visit online forum VWvortex.

Linda Hemmila is a freelance writer who lives in Berkeley.

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

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