Malaysia: A Modifying Melting Pot
Unexpected Expectations

You know when you go to a different country and come away having experienced the complete opposite of what you expected? Well, that’s what happened to me in Malaysia this past weekend. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what to expect. I had only been to the place on vacations before and never had a chance to even notice the car scene, let alone cover it. This is a country which is best described as a melting pot of cultures and ideologies. Its capital city, Kuala Lumpur, has an energy I have never felt anywhere else before; a place where new opportunity seems to be materialising by the day, and where internationalism is welcomed with open arms rather than being fought away with fear as it is in some of the more established countries I have travelled to.

So it’s no surprise then that Malaysia is home to a vibrant car culture – one I was able to get a good feel for a few days ago at a small but very cool event held in the heart of KL. Art of Speed might only be in its third year, but it’s quickly gathering momentum. At the same time  it’s helping to give some real direction to Malaysia’s growing custom and modified car scene.


After a six-hour flight with the guys from Mooneyes and Flat-4 Japan who were also invited to participate in the show, I was dropped right into the middle of it all.


The blistering heat and humidity of this region took a while to acclimatise to, but the venue itself – a shopping mall in the outskirts of the city centre – proved to be a great choice of location. Not only did it foster a neat atmosphere, but there was plenty of shade too!


The whole energy of the event was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and to be honest was more akin to a big party than one of those shows that drags on all day with not much happening. It’s entirely due to the fact that Malaysian enthusiasts (and those that flew in from Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore to check Art of Speed out) have an admirable enthusiasm and pride for their cars, and their local movement. This was something totally reflected in the metal that I came across.


When it comes to inspiration, it’s obvious Japan has a big influence here. One of my favourite cars was this KE70 Corolla – a clean example executed with taste throughout and sitting just right on a set of Riverside Riverge wheels. It was my choice for the ‘Speedhunters Pick’ award I was asked to present.


The show itself was split up in a few categories and each group was separated in the parking area at the center of the mall which made navigating your way around very easy. It was cool to see some drift cars in the mix too, like this very clean A31 Cefiro which had a mean street vibe going on.


Of all the sub-genres represented at Art of Speed, the kyusha scene certainly seemed to be the strongest. There was a great selection of cars present – this MarkII on steelies showing that the clean approach with a few well thought out details never fails.


The Japanese kyusha touches were all present too, from the Kyokujitsu-ki flag, to the tsurikawa train handle, and even a number plate with folded up corners.


This early ’70s Corolla wagon wouldn’t have looked out of place at the Mooneyes Street Car Nationals. It pulled off the rat-style approach rather well I thought.


I was quite impressed to see a few old school rotary-powered Mazdas present too. It started off with this RX-3 Savanna coupe exhibiting the much-loved ‘Works’ look with contrasting-colour fender flares.


Among the classics there were a few more modern cars to be seen – modern-classics if you will. Machines like this yellow FC3S RX-7 sitting on RAYS Volk Racing TE37s.


This particular car was definitely not just for looks and underneath the vented bonnet sat a heavily tuned 13B complete with a rather large turbocharger tucked low down in the engine bay. I saw this thing drive out at the end of the show on Sunday and it sounded angry.


It was hard to miss this Corolla sitting next to the little rotor-group as well. The big front-mount intercooler and its drag-style stance hinted that it was far from stock under the hood.


I’m sure I wasn’t the only one surprised to see a hard-tuned 13B in the hole though. Mix and match as they say!

Kyusha Rarities

One car that I kept coming back to was another little compact coupe from the ’70s. The Galant GTO GS-R is something I seldom see, even in Japan.


I really love Japanese cars from this era, a time when local manufacturers were – quite obviously – being inspired by the muscle car movement stateside. The owner of this GTO had taken the look one step further with some wide wheels and old racing tyres.


In the Datsun camp I found this beautifully executed Sunny GX Coupe which was doing it right in pretty much every department. The Watanabe wheels with semi-slick tyres added a perfect touch of aggression.


The sun was harsh, and if I spent longer than 20 minutes out in the open I’d be fighting to keep the sweat from running into my eyes – one of the drawbacks of having no hair! Thankfully, the guys behind Art of Speed provided a much-appreciated oasis in the form of an air conditioned gallery inside the mall itself.


This is where Shige-san and the guys from Mooneyes had set up shop for the weekend; bringing with them tons of cool merchandise and Wildman – Mooneye’s famous pinstriper who is celebrating 25 years in the business this year. There were other famous Japanese automotive artists around too; pinstriping helmets, cell phone covers or anything else people brought in with them.


It was also cool to see Naoto Fujita from Flat-4 in Tokyo at the event. A week earlier he had shipped over the EMPI ‘Inch Pincher III’ – an iconic Japanese VW that I actually almost see on a daily basis as I live very close to their shop on Meguro-dori. This is a car that really deserves a feature!


After a much-needed cooling off it was back outside again to see what other treasures had shown up.


The Japanese selection was finished off with a couple of C210 Skylines; one of which was powered by an SR20. That particular engine swap would certainly give the Nissan a great mix of weight balance and performance.


Chatting with some of the local guys, it quickly became obvious that owning a car in Malaysia is no easy feat. Taxes alone make the purchase of anything beyond a small city car extremely expensive – and that’s without taking into account the capacity of the engine which road tax is calculated upon. So I wouldn’t even like to think what level of financial investment it would take to keep a Chevy Impala like this one, running on the road. The car guys here are dedicated bunch, that’s for sure!

Got Muscle?

If muscle is what you are into, you wouldn’t have been disappointed at Art of Speed. In my mind, nothing represents the style better than a tuned 396 Camaro.


It was hard not to smile at this chopped and dropped Volvo Amazon complete with a comical tooth-laden grille. It looked like a rather cool project which just needed glass to be complete and was easily the most unique car at the show.


Or was it? If I had to chose one car that screamed ‘Malaysia!’ it would have to be this appropriately-trimmed Mini Moke which showed up on the Sunday morning.


Here’s something you don’t see every day – a late ’70s Subaru 1600 GF sedan. I was really interested to find out what exactly was living in engine bay, but I never managed to track down its owner. Like me, you’ll just have to imagine what hides beneath that throttled scoop!


Along with the variety of Japanese cars that made up a good proportion of the event, the aircooled scene in Malaysia seems to be very evolved. Included in the line-up of VWs was the show’s overall winner – a car I’ll be taking a closer look at in my forthcoming second post from Art of Speed.


I think it doesn’t matter what cars you are into, Beetles appeal to everyone out there. Sheer simplicity and the fact that they’ve been around forever aside, these were some of the first cars to ever be customised, so they’re always going to be popular.


The owner of the black Beetle on the left-hand side of this shot drove a whole day on country roads to get to Art of Speed. Now that’s dedication! It turns out this wasn’t even the longest journey he’s made, as last year he drove his Bug to another show in Bangkok which was three times the distance.


No selection of aircooled rides would be complete without at least one Karmann Ghia, right?


Or a VW bus for that matter – seen here in double-cab guise sporting a very evident military theme.


Later in the day this MkII Golf sitting on BBS wheels and running UK plates appeared out of nowhere. It was a great reminder of what a legend this car was back in its day, and how many years on they still look good when modified right. Apparently these cars and the Peugeot 205 GTI were some of the most crashed cars of the ’80s and early ’90s! I’m sure that lift-off oversteer can be thanked for much of that…

Don’t Forget The Euros

The final side of the show was the Continental section, which consisted of a wide variety of European cars – some old, others a little newer.


Aside from a Fiat 131 that brought back many memories from my childhood – mainly because it was the first car I ever drove – it was this fiery red Giulia that most people seemed to be in awe of. Alfa Romeo has a great following in this region of Asia, but this was a very welcome sight nonetheless.


It felt as though there was a bit of a Gatebil theme going over on the opposite side of the parking lot with cars like this E30 BMW taking a more aggressive tuning route.


Check out this Volvo too. Aside from the crazy one-off widening, there were some big surprises under the bonnet…


Volvo power has given way to Nissan propulsion in the form of an RB25 swap mated to generously sized turbo. It would be cool to see this thing shredding tyres around Sepang!


Anyone into stance has a few problems to deal with in Malaysia. There’s the roads for starters, which seem to either have speed bumps or potholes, and of course the authorities, who don’t seem to like cars that sit low. Still, where there’s a will there’s a way and one car that caught my attention was this clean E30 dropped on a set of bronze steelies.


Old Benzes have an almost inexplicable lure about them, and that’s before you drop them low on stock body-colour-matched wheels. Double win here!


I spent most of the second day wandering around the show taking in more of the details. Despite the fact that Art of Speed was much smaller than the massive shows I’m used to covering in Japan and other countries, there was a lot to look at.


It certainly gave me more time to appreciate the work that so many put into their pride and joys. It also meant that I actually had time to meet people and chat about cars and the Malaysian scene in general.


That’s why I want to say a big thank you to everyone that came up to me to say hello. It was a pleasure meeting you all and I’m still amazed at the amount of stickers I gave out – literally hundreds upon hundreds!


Art of Speed concluded with a ceremony where awards were given out to the best cars and bikes in each of the various classes. Shige-san of Mooneyes did the honours alongside Asep, the event organiser.

It was a great end to an equally great event and a good chance for me to take a break from an established scene like the one in Japan, to one that’s still rather young, but growing very fast. We’ll be seeing a lot more cool cars come out of Malaysia in the next few years, that’s for sure!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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if you had more time in malaysia, there are quite a few interesting workshops you could check out all over the place, millenium comes to mind and then there is the time to attack event at sepang and the smaller SNF night events.


@Guest So everyone kept telling me! Next time I'll stay over longer and go on a hunting trip ;)


I don't think that's a volvo amazon... but I could be wrong. Never seen an amazon with wheel-covering quarter panels or a split windshield.


mr moderator...come and visit us at malaysia on this day sepang


that volvo with the rb25 looks like it came from gatebil. i love that fc too! cool trip!


d_rav the fc has me inspired


That KE70 is niiiiiiice. Clean, simple, just the right amount of retro. Ditto the RX3.

The purple car with the bosozoku pipes made me throw up a little in my mouth, though.


Rotard d_rav yah me too. i love they they rebuilt the whole thing from the ground up.. and that engine bay is very clean!


that Camaro and KE70 is awe-f*&%ing-some
it seems that malaysian car cultures are better than indonesia. In indonesia, there are lots of riced FWDs (Yaris, Swift, or Jazz/Fit). True builders are rarely spotted


@Lou Had various names


1970's Australian GTS Monaro in Malaysia is probably the most surprising car you didn't mention.


Hotcakes lol, they are removable...


@Guessed Ah yes I spotted that. Considering Australia isn't too far away I assumed it was a common sighting?


Glad to see see you covering south east Asia, Malaysia has great potential and car enthusiasts are not afraid to bend the rules. Advice from a baldy: a headband does wonders in this humid climate. :)


But sorry Dino, the Riverside Riverge wheels is fake......


speedhunters_dino There weren't many major export programmes during that era so generally Australians don't expect to see our cars anywhere else (except maybe New Zealand). Though a four-door version of that car was sold in Japan with a 13B. No doubt that particular car would have an interesting history. Likely a personal import.


"owning a car in Malaysia is no easy feat. Taxes alone make the purchase of anything beyond a small city car extremely expensive – and that’s without taking into account the capacity of the engine which road tax is calculated upon." --- Sad to say, but it's also the same here in the Philippines.

Anyway, love that yellow FC and the Cefiro. I specially love the old school cars. The green rx3 and the brown corolla are my favorites! Thanks!


There is not a car in this post I would not own! That Volvo lol!


That white E30 with large intercooler, is almost a Gatebil refugee: 2JZ under the hood!


I had no idea that the car scene in Malaysia was so epic. What a cool experience Dino! :D


great coverage!
thanks for the speedhunters stickers! hope u like the i gave you!!



Awesome photography there Dino!

I'm surprised that you didnt cover the widebody Porsche?


Good God that RX3 is amazing, been meaning to give rotaries a go and that's just tempting me more. 
Loving that military-themed VW bus too, another great post guys!


I really enjoy this article. Good thing you even mentioned our situation here in KL. Something other car publications will not even look at.


Awesome coverage Dino! Wish I could have been there. I'm glad you got to see the good side of our tuning scene but you probably saw some not so good ones on the road too. Also, I'm sure we all appreciate you explaining the situation we have here. Thanks for coming!


Gvk Thanks, will definitely be back to explore more:)


AllenAznan Of course, you guys get a seriously saw deal!!


kphillips9936 Thx!


ericmaxman It's coming up up in the spotlight-o-rama ;)


@azrinfreedoms It's already on my camera case!;)


Taryn Croucher Thanks Taryn-san! Enjoying the humidity?


jay8393 yup haha totally


JakWhite Couldn't believe the RB!!


meal stub That sucks! So sports cars are like twice or even three times the cost of say the US (which gets awesome prices btw!!) ??


koko san Yes but I'd look like a seventies porn star if I wore one, not to mention the resulting tan lines (burn lines in my case) that it would create lol. Ill stick to caps lol


@Guessed speedhunters_dino Most definitely


speedhunters_dino Sweet! Will keep my eyes peeled for that!


speedhunters_dino Haha oh yes, I especially enjoyed it when I had to run to not miss my train this morning and then missed it anyway and then got lost! All part of the adventure... LOL


speedhunters_dino cool!!


speedhunters_dino meal stub yup... example R35 GTR Black Edition cost roughly about MYR766,860.00... plus minus roadtax (MYR5300.00 *yearly) plus insurance (god knows)... :3

Convert that ish to USD about 241g


Thank you!  Shige, MQQNEYES.


speedhunters_dino meal stub The guys in the US are really lucky when it comes to car prices. I don't know about Asia but even here in Europe cars are MUCH more expensive. The ZN6 is nearly twice as expensive here in The Netherlands than it would be in the US to purchase and that is before you talk about road tax, insurance(which is even more expensive in the UK) etc. and we're not even the most expensive country in Europe. For example, a 1990 Mazda Miata/Eunos Roadster would cost close to 20.000 USD to buy in Denmark :o

BTW how are the fuel prices in Malaysia? We are currently at $2,20 per LITRE for regular unleaded fuel, 2,50 for Hi-Oku.


speedhunters_dino meal stub Yeah. Not just the car itself but parts too. Tax is a killer over here. That's why I envy US, Jap, and other countries where parts are plenty and very much affordable. Over there, common folk can afford to mod their cars where as here it's more reserved for the wealthy. Common folk here ride scooters and mopeds, cheap to maintain, register, and mod.


great coverage dino!! wish you could see our time attack scene that will be held in sepang this 6th are gonna love it..


Some nice rides, but overall Malaysia car culture sucks. That's what I learned.


speedhunters_dino koko san LOL


HSSLTYO Come on bro, everywhere is same.


HSSLTYO reason?


HSSLTYO uh? Elaborate please


Sukri Sounds cool, I would love to check out Sepang!


MQQNEYES Thank you Shige-san, Steve and Wildman!


Dang, should've gone haha, I live nearby. Anyway, yeah it's crazy to own a new car here in Malaysia, a BRZ/86 will cost about RM 240K (78kUSD), 2nd most expensive country to buy a new car, just behind Singapore.
PS: Hope you guys come back soon to Malaysia to check out more awesome car scenes like these :)


First of all, welcome to Malaysia. And yeah, weather can be a bit hot here. Nevertheless, awesome coverage and i personally came on Sunday to checkout the event myself. My third visit, since Art of Speed intiated and years more to come. Art of Speed is somewhat like Speedhunters. As long as it had an engine/motor and wheels, its good to go ! Its a breath fresh air comparing to the usual local shows. Thank you again for showing lil bit of Malaysia to this awesome website. Appreciate much. Do come back again. Missed your presence the last time, probably will be luckier the next visit. Cheerios 73~


speedhunters_dino AllenAznan


HSSLTYO not cool bro. it sucks only if the person is not part of it. or part of the scene for the wrong reasons.


Muzaffar Musa speedhunters_dino correction. the hidden treasures.


AllenAznan speedhunters_dino hahaha... yeah, that too. Anyhow, hope this gives you a small taste of what's to come Dino. =)


why don't you check out the kei car scene here.. it's how most of us started btw.


westhave speedhunters_dino meal stub 
Presently, regular (RON 95) at Msian ringgit 2.10 per litre (likely will increase soon), for premium unlead (RON 97) is sort of floating with market price, latest price at 2.85 Msian ringgit. Shell retail petrol station used to sell V Power Racing that is now discontinued some yrs back. Mind you, our fuel standards are Euro 2 , yes EURO TWO !


speedhunters_dino you should check their website


when do speedhunters will come to the malaysia neighbour, Indonesia?


HSSLTYO congratulations on shaming your own countryman. U must be a small kid who always amazed only on everything-foreign. i was too surprised that there are people with great ideas on modding in this coverage, In malaysia. which meant, i was wrong to think that its the same everywhere in malaysia.




Having never been to Malaysia, or Japan, but being a long-time Speedhunter reader, I could have been fooled into thinking this was a Japanese car show if you'd said it were. However, there would have been something off - a particular rawness/quirkiness in some of the builds that would make me say "wow, I've never seen them feature a car just like that from Japan." Interesting stuff!


good to see you dino and thank for the stickers , what make it more cool is there is a few pin-up girl that i saw , we need more of that !

Gianluca FairladyZ

That Cefiro is BAD!!! When i just think about what sits under that hood........


As someone who travels to Malaysia pretty often for business, this makes me very happy to see!  Thanks for the great coverage Dino.


I love Malaysia, car parts are abundant and the enthusiasts doesn't afraid to bend the rules. Got a lot of my car parts from there and made a lot of friends along the way. Don't get me started on food! *drool*.

from your neighbouring country,Brunei.


Omg that Volvo amazon!!! That Volvo amazon!!!!! Awesome!!!!!!!!!! So much style on an already sweet looking platform.


That Volvo with the flame job and iron crosses in the grills has my interest, Hopefully there's more of it in the next part


Holy crap, that green MX-3 is totally bad-ass!


Sukri speedhunters_dino I know it :)


bento11 78k? :shocked:


ayz_piocm Thanks and too bad we didn't meet! Next time for sure:)


aussieANON LOL


gliebau Definite uniqueness!


GeorgeR32 My pleasure for the stickers:)


Jun Imai Good to hear you liked it. More to follow....


AbdHadieHR Food is indeed pretty awesome!


Sold Golf Mk.I Kamei hood scoop last time to malaysia, now I know it won't be wasted O_O


speedhunters_dino AbdHadieHR the char koay teow is worth going for in itself.


please feature the inch pincher im a huge vw fan owning a 66 beetle project that im currently working on and besides its a vw drag racing legend and u guys should also cover the vw classic weekend in costa mesa on june 21st


More pictures of the Volvos please!!!


thehowardcolesel OK, I'll try and catch the car when it gets back to Japan before it's put back in the Flat-4 shop:)


Merc :)


HSSLTYO have you learned how to discard speedcut ?


i have been following speedhunters for sometime now, n its been a blast. even bought the stickers from the site, even when frens told me to buy non merchandise items. but to get the stickers all the away from europe and to be in my hands, its awesome! and to c malaysia covered is surreal! and of course Welcome to Malaysia. 

oh by the usual.. awesome photos!

90 THAT Savanna. <3


speedhunters_dino bento11


speedhunters_dino bento11
Welcome Dino to Malaysia!
and yes.. this is the second most expensive country to buy car in the whole world
not to mention expensive parts too


speedhunters_dino thanx for the stickers! Good to exchange some thoughts with u. I am the black beetle owner. Actually 5 of us beetles and a 510 coupe drove 500km to attend the show. Not just me.


Too bad you missed Retro Havoc.....You gotta look into the next event.Surely you must not miss a particular Ford Escort 1UZFE swap


ZackLee Atara Racing 'cengkih'


HSSLTYO 1. go to bookstores and buy Gila Kereta and the Kereta magazine monthly. 2.Give me a reason Malaysian car culture sucks 3.Still thinking that Malaysian car culture sucked?Youre just looking at the wrong place MFcka


Thanks for highlighting Malaysia scene! See ya soon buddy.


Nice to have you as a guest in our country,need to come back for more!!


speedhunters_dino Haha. Yeah, basically the higher the engine displacement, the more expensive it gets. An Audi A8 3.0 will be about 215k... USD. So you can imagine how expensive it will be for muscle cars, lol. Anyway, great article as always Dino!


thanks dude for coverage..Malaysia Olskool owner proud what u


gliebau thx bro u statement


HSSLTYO bro we malaysian proud what we have..thx for scene an culture itself


ZackLee Legit Atara Racing wheels though. Hahaha


Get any more photos of the datsun wagon in photo #3?


Great article! With the prices there those are some extremely keen enthusiasts! 

You wouldn't happen to have any more photos of the datsun in photo #3 would you?


Has anyone got any more info on that Purple Toyota Corona MArk II?


Awesome Volvos in Malaysia, *mind blown*


I love Giulias!!

Slappy Pistons

@LEXI Yeah it's pretty spectacular.  Any more shots, Dino? :)


no proton,no honda?this is certainly rare cars in malaysia...wanna see true malaysia mod scene?u need proton n honda! please come back for more dino! keyword:satria,wira,neo,ek,eg,ef


I'll bet you just freak out when you come across these fabulous cars....
Galant GTO GS-R,
 Double Cab VW Bus,
 Alfa Romeo Giulia,
The Old Benz lowered 
All at one show???? OMG

Your one lucky guy Dino :-) 
 Thanks Again


So close to Manila! Come visit us and check out our car scene here! You won't regret it!


qaiyimoto1988 protons are shitty


They may be shitty but we malaysian boyngirl racers could only get those and olskool japanese cars for cheap. And parts are easier to come by for proton and perodua cars. I had to drive 30kms to get a decent set of panels for my datsun b210, and only cos my regular olskool parts dude doesnt have them (he gives the best parts for cheap but lives 3 hours drive away.)


@kk qaiyimoto1988 you mean satria gti with 800hp  is shitty?? wait until you see for "car crash in Malaysia" and you will know how fast they drive....


I got a Datsun 140y. Where can I find people to modify?


Please SMS let me know where I can find. Tq