Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Antwerp Custom Show | FEATURE
The Antwerp Custom Show has been on the radar for a few years now, 20 years in fact as this year is their 20th anniversary and is being celebrated by a double event! The second of which is later this month (details on the flyer above). Earlier this year, Kylie and I got an invite from Dave Kent from Medway SC to join him and his mate Steve Tetlow to do a bit of Maicoletta tyre kicking on route. So we headed off to join them on the Springtime rally.
The event is organised by Jurgen and Hilde Den Blauwen and has featured in the scooter press many times. The photos always stood out to me for their stylish sophistication and interesting machines but had clashed with other activities for us but this year we prioritised. We left Windsor to follow the A25 through the beautiful North Downs where we were joined by Jim Brierly from Winchester, then round to Rochester where we met up with Dave Kent and Steve Tetlow for the run to the Channel Tunnel. Half an hour’s Channel crossing later and we were in France and on route to Belgium.
We soon realised that the five line Facebook message from Ben Ford from Luton Lambretta Club giving directions and the absence of a map was not the best planning that we had made but we knew that Antwerp was east of the UK so we headed east.
Five hours later we had completed the journey that Google maps had suggested should take two hours and 23 minutes and we were in Antwerp. On route I had a couple of Maicoletta issues and finally pulled over to rebuild the carb. It made a good improvement but I later found that the main issue was the age-old fuel starvation problem, which once it had occurred created an air lock in the fuel hose so until the banjo was released to flush the bubble through, the scooter would run hot and lack power.
Dave Kent had a clutch issue caused by a stop-start traffic jam in a tunnel on a hill and Kylie had a seized clutch cable which proved a handful in the same traffic jam. Jim on a Lambretta had a damp light switch that gave him hit and miss lights. Steve on a Vespa GTS 300 had mild interjection from eating too much cheese.
Now in Antwerp we had a quick shower headed out to the Old Town. Three succulent steaks and a vegetarian lasagne later and we were off to the atmospheric Kaptein Zeppo’s Bar to meet our host for the weekend Jurgen.
Tall with a wide smile and a certain 70s ski catalogue chic, Jurgen is hard to miss. He is a great host and ensured the beer and conversation flowed in equal measure. Kaptein Zeppo’s bar is exactly what we hoped for: strong Belgium beer, good music and a continental friendly atmosphere. There was a mix of English, French, Dutch and local people who were all having a great time.
The next day we awoke with one bleary eye on the weather, rain was forecast but holding. We headed back to the square outside Kaptein Zeppos Bar for the “Ride Your Pride Cruise” to the warehouse of Sam from lambrettafinders.com. At Sam’s I could not keep my hands off some of the scooters for sale. Sam manages to get some interesting models and I like oddity scooters. I’ve had scooters from Sam before and have been pleased with what he sells.
Saturday evening started with ribs and beers with members of Medway Scooter Cub, Reading Rabble and Big 7 at Amadeus then we were off to the evening’s event aboard the Hi Ho Skipper Fiandria Party Boat. This stylish vessel was moored beneath the “Space Ship” spotlights of the Zaha Hadid’s New Antwerp Port House. Love it or hate it this building is in your face. You need to Google it. It was a fitting place for the do, unconventional and modern with a foot firmly cast in the concrete of the past. We arrived to the soul and funk sounds of fab band, the Unfunkettables, who created a great start to the event with a ripping sax sound. Later DJs Sam and Jurgen spun tracks from the bridge and kept the atmosphere buzzing and the Belgium beer flowing to the wee hours…
Sunday morning and Hilde was on the door of the custom show still smiling and welcoming and Jurgen’s head was seen nodding enthusiastically amongst exited scooterists drooling over the odd creations and rare and beautiful machines. Everybody was happy to talk about their machines and suffer our naive questions. Hopefully, the pictures paint a thousand words but the point of this rally is less about nuts and bolts but more to do with the experience.
If you know your Wests from your Easts and want an affordable weekend of thrills that’s easy to get to then head to Antwerp in November. These little gems won’t be on the calendar forever.
You can get the latest details here: Antwerp Custom Show
Words and photos: Nick Barber
Rallery by Nick Barber
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