Going the extra 4,000 miles to Wörthersee

The task at hand seemed insurmountable: transport a 1996 Volkswagen Golf Harlequin from Pottstown, Penn., to Lake Wörthersee, Austria for the annual Wörthersee Festival — with less than 72 hours of notice. But the U.S. Volkswagen Logistics team found a way to get one VW enthusiast and his car to the largest yearly gathering of Volkswagen and Audi fans in the world.

The annual festival at Lake Wörthersee is a must for VW enthusiasts, and this year they were celebrating two anniversaries; the 40th anniversary of the GTI and the 35th anniversary of the Festival. This year’s festival, “Back to the Roots,” brought car fans and vehicles from around the world together to Reifnitz, Austria to celebrate, including Jamie Orr.Jamie Orr's GTI

Proud owner of a restored, multi-colored 1996 VW Golf Harlequin and a Volkswagen enthusiast who runs a European parts import business, Orr’s original plan to ship the vintage vehicle across the Atlantic fell through days before he was scheduled to leave. (Note: Orr has no official affiliation with Volkswagen of America, but was compensated for producing content from Wörthersee.)

Given the complexities of the arranging another berth on such short notice, and with no other options available, Orr reached out to Alexander Horn, the transportation procurement analyst on the VW Logistics team – the people charged with moving vehicles for VW around the world.

“Being an enthusiast myself, and knowing the event and how big it is, not only for our fans but also for VW worldwide, I really wanted to help see this through,” said Horn. “I knew this would take a lot of people and that this would require us to pull together in both the U.S. and in Germany. But I knew that we could pull this off, and if we did, it would be great.”

Starting on a Friday afternoon, Horn called his contacts and checked the shipping schedules when he realized there was a VW vessel scheduled to arrive in North Kingstown, R.I. that coming Monday. That roll-on/roll-off freighter had left Mexico full of new Jettas and would be en route to Emden, Germany.

More importantly, there was space on the boat – if Orr could make it.

The team notified Orr over the weekend; Orr drove through snowy conditions from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island and met the VW Logistics and VW Port Operations teams at the Port of Davisville in North Kingstown. Ordinarily, there is a minimum three-day process to get the clearance needed for a vehicle to board an international shipment, but the team worked with the vessel agent over the weekend to secure a space for Orr’s Golf on the ship. With minutes to spare before the freighter departed, Orr watched as his multi-colored Golf was loaded onto the ship, headed for Wörthersee.

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At Wörthersee, in a field of thousands of VW and Audi fans, GTI models of all generations participated in the VW “Fan Drive” Stage presentation to celebrate the GTI.  And Orr’s multi-colored 1996 VW Golf Harlequin was among those on stage as one of the cars being honored.

“Everyone had a role in this journey and everyone on the team, myself included, felt a lot of pride for what we had accomplished on behalf of a fan,” Horn said.

(Top, bottom photo Si Gray; middle photo Jamie Orr)