Words & Photography: Jonny Smith
You may have heard of I Love Bass. Established back in 2010, a small group of friends started covering Northern Ireland's selection of cars and shows letting us this side of the water get a little glimpse of what happens over there. I've known Adam, James and a lot of the others from behind the scenes for a long time now, replying to an advert needing a UK based photographer which they accepted. A friendship was formed along with a connection bringing Rollhard and I Love Bass together. The similarities of the two brands have always been there too, both starting as just a group of friends and becoming a big family just all out to have a good time and input our passion for all things moving out there. We do all love each other. Quickly for those who have been under a rock for the past 7 years, no it doesn't have any relevance to the perch water fish.
Over the last 7 years, the brand has grown, evolved and gained enormous popularity amongst the "scene". They've ended up traveling around the globe featuring shows, cars and producing some of the best photography and videography in the "scene" to date, putting their daytime job to great use and blowing us part-timers out of the water. They also know how to build a car or two.
Well now they've tried and truly succeeded in conquering the show side of things and that was DISTRICTS. The setting you ask? Nestled in the tiny City of Belfast, there's a huge retail space once occupied by B&Q. Now fully stripped out by Square Pit X 12 it's been turned into a new indoor venue which offered the perfect amount of space for cars and enough room between them for us photographers to get good photos, and yes someone came in thinking B&Q had reopened with the car park full of cars.
I hadn't actually planned on going, as much as I'd wanted to support the guys I had tickets to Goodwood's Festival of Speed and couldn't justify a day trip to Belfast on the Sunday from London as fun as that sounded. But after a switch on my works rota and my local mates from Essex kindly dropping me off on the way home from FOS at Gatwick, I was able to book last minute flights and hotel and descend on the land of the Titanic and Guinness. Mmmm tasty.
With this being their first show they didn't mess around just dipping their toes in. Straight into a two-day event over Saturday and Sunday, they were going for it. With 6 automotive categories on offer, Stance, Classics, Motorsport, Exotic, Off-Road and Bikes, the show brought a lot of different styles under one roof and showcased how diverse the automotive world can be and that it has something for everyone. Spectators were able to walk around next to some of the best examples of what NI has to offer in the modified community, pass by a fully restored classic sports car, view lifted trucks covered in mud to finally finish off following an Aventador as it left, phone in hand, set to record, with the entire population of Belfast doing the same. They didn't stop there with, going into small details taking inspiration from their travels.
The big DISTRICTS letters at the entrance, which gave a THPS feel to the deck chairs surrounding the wonderfully different stage set up. Break dancing throughout the Sunday with DJ Gregg Ried on the decks. A sweet stand with one huge chocolate fountain and of course, all the traders supporting from all over the UK. There was a lot going on that worked really well. This really gave the show a refreshing feel and felt like there was always something new to look at.
Variety is the Spice of Life.
Titanic City Cycles had a section/workshop area next to the main stage displaying a range of different bikes and some of the projects their currently working on. Gary Greenberg the owner did some talks on stage with some of the bike owners telling the crowds about the bikes they're brought along. Was so sweet to look at all the different styles but didn't help my want for something with two wheels. Norlin Racing Team attended with their two Chevrolet Cruzes. Driven by Chris Smiley and Dave Newsham in this year's BTCC. The cars sounded amazing, even if they did start them up in the middle of one of Garys talks. Outside in the loading bay, the 4x4s took to the stage. RC Drifting was inside, growing massively in popularity, guests were able to rent out a car to slide. Blackwater Graphics had a few of their greatly designed cars on display but for something a little different a PS4, G29 and Dirt Rally set up for a time trial and Top Gear styled leaderboard. Even with my huge experience with Gran Turismo, I got my arse handed to me by the Irish and nowhere near the 1st place trophy. I think I'll stick to the virtual tarmac...
The Car They're all Talking About.
2 cars and 2 bikes really stood out from the rest for me. Firstly you have Gary from Titanic City Cycles who owns this fantastic 300 SEL 6.3. Just an absolute monster of a car produced by Mercedes in the 1970s taking the 6.3 M100 V8 originally from the Limousine 600 and replacing the normal 6 cylinder engine. This created a very heavy but powerful saloon car rivaling the speeds of dedicated Sports Cars and American Muscles of the time. Gary has put some brilliant ideas into this, mainly the wheels which won him the best wheels trophy. A set of Nascar wheels converted to centre locks. With tyre sizes of 315 and 345, these mean serious business. Also, can you believe the original came with Air Suspension which is still installed and working today.
This Escort with a turbo'd SR20 heart was another winner for me. Ford with a Nissan engine, don't see that every day. Weighing around 800kgs and running just over 400bhp I bet this is one fun weapon to drive.
I've never been one for bikes but over time they've been growing steadily on me and it was great to see a dedicated section at the show, a first I think with solid numbers. Below are my two my favorites. I apologize for knowing sod all about them but they're very pretty.
After what felt like a hugely successful day, 6pm came around, the awards had been handed out, people made they're way back home and the doors closed behind them ready to see if they'll reopen for Districts 2.0 next year. Hopefully, the guys will go through it all again to put on what can safely be said as another show that has made its mark on the calendar and one to look out for in future. I fully support anyone who's always wanted to go over to NI for a show, it's good crack as they say.
Thank You I Love Bass. We Enjoy You.
Massive thank you to all the lads at I Love Bass for a great weekend away.
Now for the part you all want to see, photos...
Read our feature on Adam Lamont's stancey W211 Mercedes here.