The 7th edition of the annual Art of Speed (AOS) festival recently took place at MAEPS Serdang, and as expected, it didn’t fail to draw in hoards of visitors of all age and gender.
There was literally something from everyone; whether you’re into tattoos, custom bikes, aftermarket components, used/new automotive apparels, classic/tuner cars, die-cast models, the list was as exhaustive as a housewife’s grocery list.
Hot Wheels even took the opportunity to officiate and kick off their 50th Anniversary Southeast Asia Tour there, on the side of launching its 2019 Car Culture designs. The new collection was developed in collaboration with Japan-based Porsche tuner, Rauh-Welt Begriff (RWB), led by the mythical character that is Akira Nakai.
Without rambling further, among all the cars that were present and on display, here are our Top 5 picks from the weekend, based on their custom work, rarity, “cleanliness”, tastefulness and more importantly, elegant simplicity.
What started out originally as a Porsche 911 SC has now been turned into a tastefully backdated model with a RS duck tail and RSR front bumpers. It may look like something out of Magnus Walker’s garage but it’s just too clean and meticulously-built to be labelled as one of his own.
With such a “hot-rod” appearance, you’d be surprise how tactile and svelte the fit and finish on this car is. Definitely my pick for the No.1 spot of our Top 5 highlights of the show.
E36 BMW 3-Series
This one takes second place in my books. It’s a car I have a soft spot for, partly from being a proud owner of an E36. I grew up in it, learnt to drive (and drive fast) in it and is also the first car I crossed the “double century” mark in for the first time.
But this isn’t anything like the lame, bone-standard 325i I have in my porch. This one’s been given the full “M treatment” – with every single “M mod” a BMW E36 owner can dream of. It’s got a V8 engine jammed into the front, Vader seats inside, slick BBS wheels and the list just goes on.
I teared a little inside, realising how long, how much and how difficult it would be for me to get my car just to look like this.
This Mini looked like it had just completed the Monte-Carlo rally, had a “proper bath” and driven straight to the Art of Speed Festival. Everything about it was simplistically elegant and functional. As is always the case with a Mini, it drew so much more attention than those around it, with twice its size and asking price.
This was another AOS show-stopper that captivated me. Growing up, my old man “rescued” one that was left to die on the street from imminent rust. It was bought for a grand total of RM 1,000 in the mid-90’s, restored to full operating condition and sold for nearly RM20,000 a few years later.
My old man didn’t go to such extreme lengths to get his Japan-spec Cooper to such show-car conditions though – citing budget issues but looking back, I’m confident it was just plain ol’ laziness.
Nissan Bluebird 1600 SSS Coupe
To get the owner to part with this car, I think you’d have to pass him one of your kidneys should both of his fail. Looking at the attention to detail, examining every inch of the Bluebird, you can tell how much patience, blood, sweat and tears have gone into making it look the way it does.
If my calculations and back-tracking is correct, this car could easily be 50-years old if not approaching it. I’ve not seen a 50-year old human being age that gracefully, let alone a car. I just wished I had the chance to have a few words with the owner which was no where to be found; I suspect he could’ve been the one who was rigorously polishing a set of chrome wheels.
Toyota Corolla AE86
What’s a car show without one of the most iconic faces of all time – the AE86. This may not have been the liftback model but really, does it matter when the car you’re driving is as recognisable as Tun M’s face in the automotive world? I guess not.
Cars like this Levin, and the Bluebird always make me wish I could’ve realised it earlier and told my grandparents that these cars would some day be cult classics – buy them and keep em’ till I’m legally able to drive.
Cars like these also show what a car (whether it’s a cult-classic or an immaculate AE101 SEG) represents and can mean to different people, rather than being just mere “A to B modes of transportation”.
While it’s clear these days that the tuner scene is in slight jeopardy of falling out of favour within those in their early 20’s and younger, with “modifications” mostly confined to making a standard Civic look like a Type R, I’m glad there are still festivals like the AOS to show that there are still people out there who strive to keep what society deems as scrap metal going (and strong).
Way I see it, they’re not just another owner; not just beacons of influence for today’s 5-year olds but more importantly relentless caretakers of these “time capsules”, preserving them for generations to come.