Sure, the first time exploring a new country is always exciting, as is the first taste of a new automotive scene or a fresh car show. But there was another aspect of Art Of Speed Malaysia 2019 that had my inner child almost bursting at the seams with excitement.
You see, as the father of a five-year-old, the lure of tantalising colours and mesmerising artwork that push oh-so-addictive Hot Wheels products onto unsuspecting parents and their auto-obsessed offspring, become impossible to ignore.
I was fortunate enough to spend most of my teenage and early adult life ‘clean’ and totally devoid of collector cars. But like all addictions, especially the habits formed in early life, relapse can often be treated as a ‘when’, rather than an ‘if.’ That said, the collection of premium cars and Team Transporters that my household has amassed over the past couple of years has put a veto on any money saved during those clean years.
So wildly disproportionate is the enormous satisfaction that accompanies the acquisition of these tiny diecast reflections of car culture. You’ve really got to wonder what black magic goes into production while the ‘Made In Malaysia’ is proudly cast into the underside of the majority of our Hot Wheels collectibles.
I’d been looking forward to the Hot Wheels side of Art of Speed from the moment the trip was booked, and had heard rumours that a new line was going to be revealed at the show.
And indeed it happened. Steve Vandervate, Hot Wheels premium lead designer, and Asep Sastrawidjaja, the brain behind Art Of Speed, unveiled the third Japan Historics series.
The five-car set includes two full metal chassis repaints, Nissan’s DR30 Skyline (yes!) and a Honda City Turbo. Three completely new models are introduced to the Hot Wheels family, all well-chosen cult classics. A Datsun 1200 ute (Sunny pickup for you ‘Muricans), a Mazda Cosmo, and lastly the very rare CP311 Silvia.
While the new Japan Historics set wasn’t available to purchase, there was plenty of hotness inside Art of Speed’s pop-up Hot Wheels store. Needless to say, I spent quite a bit more money on tiny cars and trucks than I’d be comfortable telling my beautiful wife about, so let’s move right along…
I was well-prepared for the awesome onslaught of factory Hot Wheels goodness, but one aspect of the show I didn’t anticipate was the thriving collector spaces peppered throughout the venue.
The tent city swap meet was loaded with highly-desirable sets and single cars that I’d never had the privilege of freeing from shop shelves back home in Australia. Even now, I’m not sure if I’m proud or disappointed in the level of restraint and self-control I displayed.
The offerings waiting to be uncovered in the trade stands was a real treasure hunt, but the highlight of the collectible space was – and pardon the pun – the scale of custom diecasts on display. Hundreds of creative collectors had taken to their favorite models with a similar aim to the owners of the 1:1 scale cars in the main hall, building their own interpretation of the ‘perfect car’.
Custom paint, decals, wheels, pipes, interiors, ride height, and whatever else you can imagine – all at the 1:64th to 1:24th scale we’ve become accustomed to. Some builds even came equipped with scaled-down owners and detailed microscopic cityscapes.
Rather than patronising you with explanations of matters I lack expertise in, I’ll hand over the interpretation of tiny details to you, and take you a visual tour of the various elements of collect-a-mania, custom culture, live art and interesting people that transform what could have potentially been ‘just another car show’ into a much richer experience and memorable experience.
Having already uncovered the ‘speed’ on display at Art of Speed in our previous coverage, let’s delve deeply into the abundance of ‘art’ on display this year with the mega-gallery below. Malaysia is a hotbed of creativity, and while I’m not sure if this event is lucky to have Malaysia or if Malaysia is lucky to have an outlet like this event, I am sure that we’re all fortunate to have each other, and that we have Art of Speed to enjoy.