HOTstuff magazine issue #104
Published by HOTstuff Singapore
Cover Feature : Super Made S15 vs Bee Dragon Crown Majesty / Race Queen Elm Tan
Other Features : Ken Gushi Scion FR-S / Bing’s WRX STi / WeiRong SX4 / Rocket Sound’s Yaris
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“ …That show was more beneficial to the industry, allowing dealers to create links and explore business cooperations to bring better services and products to their respective markets, because it was marketed in the right way to bring in the right crowd. Marketing babes over cars will definitely boost attendance and rake in entrance fees, but is it the right audience for the industry?… Whether the car show is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, there is no case for babes becoming more prominent than the cars. Even if the objective is maximum attendance, we should never forget that the event is a ‘car’ show. We appreciate the beauty of girls and cars as much as anyone else, but we have always been careful to ensure the vehicles and girls are balanced in our magazine. In fact, if anything, we tilt the balance clearly in favour of the rides, the products and the action, as our faithful readers will know… “
33rd Bangkok International Motor Show
The 33rd Bangkok International Motor Show was a massive success, with tens of thousands of cars sold and huge crowds flocking to the event, but we weren’t there for that, oh no. It’s because the Motor Show isn’t just a classy static display, it’s also a gathering of great rides and riders from around the country.
The floods were a major disaster in Thailand, affecting 65 out of 77 provinces, leaving its imprint on the national (and international) psyche in various ways. Enough ink has been expended on talking about the physical and mental scars elsewhere ̶for motorists and car lovers like us, it was bad enough to know that many auto makers with plants in Thailand (such as Toyota, Ford and Honda) were badly affected, with production lines going under water. More than that, tens of thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands, of cars were also ruined or swept away by the floods in Bangkok and the outlying areas, leading to thousands losing their daily commute, company vehicles or beloved rides.
In the months since, Thailand has been recovering, but there is still a big dent in vehicle population numbers. That dent came a long way towards being filled at the 33rd Bangkok International Motor Show, which opened its doors to the public on 28th March for 12 days, at precisely the right time when people would be turning their minds from rebuilding property to restocking vehicles. At the event, car companies signalled they were back on the road with new models being unveiled left, right and centre. Practically every car brand there was inundated with record sales, with over 55,000 cars of all makes and models ordered in the 12 days of the event.
TUNING AND MOTORSPORTS
Naturally, of the more than 2 million visitors to the event, a significant proportion would be less interested in the new stock models than in the motorsporting and tuned wonders on show that represent the pinnacle of automotive engineering. We certainly were keeping more of an eye out for those rides than on new car revelations like the BMW F30 3-series, and the Mercedes Concept A, a precursor to their upcoming A-class.
Those who went to the motor show looking for tuned rides left fully satisfied ̶in the massive showroom were several pedigree sporting rides that made the long journey down south from Japan, like the Daishin S15 that won the GT300 in 2001, and eyecatchingly, the Cyber GT-R that Tarzan Yamada was meant to use at this year’s WTAC, though it has since been replaced by the good old Cyber Evo because the GT-R could not be readied in time.
The Cyber GT-R was just displayed on the show floor with no barriers, no placards, nothing to highlight it ̶but it drew the crowds anyway. Get up close to it, touch it, admire it ̶it was right there for anyone who wanted to. But Thais are very restrained, and while we saw tuning initiates looking over it and discussing it with reverence, few hands touched the gleaming and as yet untested ride.
GATHERING FOR A BURNOUT
Outside the exhibition hall was another environment altogether, however. ‘Restrained’ is not a word you would apply to either the cars, the activities or the owners who congregated in the foyer, members of various car clubs taking turns to utilise the premises over the several days of the event. Over the 12 days, these petrolheads came to the event with a whole menagerie of variously modded rides, from VIP bling cars to fiercely upgraded Evos to replica emulations of legendary race cars like the Calsonic GT-R.
Sizing up one another’s mods, joking and chatting with one another, the meet-ups were both a magnet for the curious and those seeking more outré automotive subcultures, as well as a forum for the exchange of ideas and a stimulant for tuning dreams, ideas and plans. Chatting with such drivers as we could communicate with was a revelation into the mindset of a car owner in a country where the authorities’ attitude towards modification can be explained by one word: bochup (Hokkien – don’t care). That level of liberty (and lower costs) have fuelled creativity, and brought modification down from a high-level and high-upkeep commitment into a much more accessible hobby.
While we were there we saw impromptu mini-drag ‘races’ being conducted–essentially burnout contests–between cars that simply craved an opportunity to let their horses loose and blow off some tyre smoke. The variety of sensual exhausts and revving sounds was absolutely phenomenal, and not surprisingly, some of the most powerful machinery actually looked the plainest–track assassins, in essence.
JUST A PRETTY FACE?
Needless to say, because this is Thailand and because you would expect this in any car show whether underground tuned or bona fide stock, the girls and ladies of the Bangkok International Motor Show deserve a section all on their own. You’d definitely agree. The sweet-looking promotion girls and car queens of the Show enthralled attendees as they strutted their stuff around new models or gave out leaflets, or simply posed for the crowd to add spice and seasoning to the main course of cars.
We found a perfect mix of sights and sounds in Bangkok, as we expected we would. With the Thai automotive and aftermarket industry so full of events and happenings, we came home packed to the gills with pictures, brochures and ideas. For our readers, it is very appropriate to say at this point that if you have been impressed by what the Motor Show has to offer when its focus isn’t even on tuned rides, you just wait till Bangkok Auto Salon, coming to you in the last two weeks of June. Now that’s something worth flying (or driving) up north for.
[ Click picture to enlarge ]
Text & Photos By HOTstuff magazine