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Falkirk Cruise has been a tradition for enthusiasts for a very long time, even before the days of the retail park and The Wheel carpark, the monthly meet was on the go.
Now, we can't actually put a date on when Falkirk Cruise was originally created, but what we do know is car enthusiasts have been gathering in the area from before the Calendar Square was built, that project being started in 1989.
'The good old days' most enthusiasts in the area refer to, is the late 90's to late 00's. This is referred to as the 'Max Power' era by todays enthusiasts. During the 2000's Falkirk Cruise had it's own website, sponsors and it even had magazine features from Fast Car and Fast N Modified. Falkirk Cruise was a pretty big deal. - So what happened in the more recent years? Has much really changed, or is it a case of looking back through rose tinted glasses?
Falkirk Cruise 2004, Image courtesy of ScotCruise.
We spent countless hours trawling through the internet to find photos of Falkirk Cruise not only to give us some media for writing this article, but also to give some of the younger team members at Scottish Car Scene an insight as to what the cruise scene was like in the early 2000's.
The earliest media we could find was from 2004, mad bodykits and flip paint were all the rage back then, some would say that's when people properly modified their cars.
The modified examples of cars definitely stood out, it was a competition of who could have the maddest paint, the biggest sound system and the most sought after accessories.
We did notice a few things when looking through the countless photos from through the years, this made us draw a few comparisons between the 'scene' then and the 'scene' today.
The first thing we noticed whilst looking back through the years was the fact that whilst the very highly modified cars stood out from the crowd, arguably more than they do today, there was still a large amount of standard looking cars there. Sometimes people like to claim that 'back in the day' the carparks were just full of modified cars, this simply isn't true.
Regardless of how modified the cars looked, the carpark was still full of like -minded enthusiasts. I will say though, I'd love to see more of the high quality 'Max Power' era cars come back out of the woodwork, the level of work and detail that went into some of them is truly amazing. Regardless, of taste, the level of uniqueness is unmatched today.
It wouldn't be a 2000's cruise without some Frenchies
was it all mental
bodykits and paint?
Not everything that was highly modified had to have a mad bodykit and sparkly paint. There was also a huge 'tuner' scene back then. These cars were built for two purposes, going fast and looking good whilst doing it, the modern car scene seems more akin to this.
There were some very fast performance cars during the late 90's and 2000's, some of which didn't look too far from stock to the untrained eye. It wasn't until you opened the bonnet you realized these cars were far from factory.
Sadly, many of the original cars are now gone, either written off, sold never to be seen again or scrapped. But every so often one will show up to an event. When one of these gems turns up they still command the same level of attention they did during the Max Power era.
Some of the cars spotted at Falkirk Cruise throughout the years have an absolutely amazing back-story, this particular Peugeot 309, spotted at Falkirk Cruise in 2007 had a huge following for many years.
Built by Peugeot Ecosse in Bo'ness, the car was originally red, then it was painted Green when Ecosse added the very distinct BMW M3 Arches and E36 taillights to it, along with a fully forged engine, 306 GTI6 gearbox and many more mods.
After reading the Max Power features we believe the car was originally built sometime between 1998-1999 (Featured in Max Power March 1999), the car was then rebuilt by Ecosse around 2000-2001 (featured in Max Power June 2001).
At some point between 2001 and 2007 it was repainted silver, and then had the white E36 tail lights swapped for a standard set of E36 lenses.
Amazingly, after we posted on Scottish Car Scene asking where this car is now, a comment from the Max Power Memories page showed up confirming that it is indeed still alive!
The 309 is parked on the current owners driveway, and from the photo we looked at, it would appear the car looks pretty much in the same condition as it was in 2007, when it attended Falkirk Cruise.
To some, it may be sad that the old days are gone. Others they may be happy to see a new generation bringing new styles and enthusiasm about cars and car events.
Many people moved on with life, I reckon som may still have an ex showcar or Falkirk Cruise original they wish they never sold, scrapped or parked on a drive never to see the road again.
I often wonder how many more old showcars are laying in garages, driveways or gardens across the country awaiting the day they can show up to Falkirk Cruise once again.
With a lot of the Max Power era cars it could be very difficult to get big power out of them without doing full engine builds or engine swaps.
These are changed days now, when you can plug a computer in to some cars and get 500+ Horsepower with a good map and a few supporting mods.
How does the modern
The modern Falkirk Cruise may contain less fiberglass bodykits and lack 'the circuit' - the one mile lap round the town.
Don't let the nostalgia fool you into thinking the atmosphere or quality of the meet is gone, we've been working hard at Scottish Car Scene to bring some positives back to Falkirk Cruise, especially after the negative press it has received in more recent years.
We're not going to say it's perfect, in-fact it's far from it, but as a monthly meet that's been held in the same place on the First Thursday of the Month (F.T.O.M) for nearly 20 years - it's held up pretty well. Falkirk Cruise is a staple of Scottish motoring culture.
We always get a good variety of classic, retro, modified & exotic cars along to Falkirk Cruise. You get a fair insight into the fashions & trends of Scottish cruising culture.
If you're looking for a good place to catch up with old car mates, Falkirk Cruise is the place.
Falkirk Cruise - May 2021 was absolutely wild.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was the first cruise of the year. I think this helped add to the atmosphere because people haven't been allowed to gather and socialise.
It does amaze me sometimes that the cruise has managed to remain in the wheel carpark for nearly 20 years. It hasn't been without it's challenges, especially in recent years, - complaints of the noise and mess around the area most nights of the week was a contributing factor to the council imposing a 'no entry between 9pm & 6am' rule on the carpark, limiting the hours of use.
We believe the local area benefits from the cruise being there, with the sheer number of visitors that attend, use the local services, petrol stations, shops and the takeaways that line Camelon Main Street. People, business and trade are coming to Falkirk, spending money and boosting the local economy.
The first cruise of 2021 was an absolute banger, here's to many more throughout the years.
Written and edited by Paul Young.