If you know me by now, you’ll know that I have an eclectic taste in car culture.
Time attack monsters, grassroots drifting, low and show, off-roading, bouncing with hydraulics, extreme customization – in my mind all these genres have an equal opportunity to be explored, and their stories shared with the world.
A few months ago, while I was in Jakarta for an event that never materialized, an eight-wheel behemoth found its into my life and things have never been the same since. I needed to know about it, and why machines like this even exist in this part of the world.
This was when a generous offer to come back a month later and check out the Black Auto Battle in Yogyakarta was presented to me.
For over a decade, the crew behind the Black Auto Battle have been judging some of the more unique and extreme builds to come out of Indonesia – vehicles like the eight-wheel machine.
With this all said, there was no way I wasn’t going to jump on another plane and hunt down this extreme car culture.All Takers Welcomed
The competition side of Black Auto Battle was divided into two parts – ‘gathering’ and ‘all style’.
The judging for the gathering side of things focused on exteriors and undercarriages – think wheels, brakes, drivetrains, suspension, and any chassis work. The stance genre fits this category perfectly, and as a result, many of the cars entered sat mere millimeters off the ground.
Throughout my South East Asia explorations, low car culture runs deep with the local enthusiasts, and Black Auto Battle was a true reflection of this.
Reminiscent of my old Honda days, this EF was a personal favorite.
The H22A swap provides more than enough grunt for the compact chassis, while the custom air ride suspension allows for show and go functionality to handle Indonesia’s less-than-perfect roads.
But nothing commands presence more than a slammed Chrysler 300C.All In The Details
As cool as it was to see how some of the local enthusiasts interpret stance cars, it was the all style contest that really piqued my interest.
This side of the competition is where the only limits are your imagination, as virtually anything goes.
With the newfound freedom comes more categories for the officials to score.
Fit and finish, exterior, interior, engine bay, and audio systems are just a few of the 120 things critiqued by a panel of local and international judges.
The more extreme your swap or customisation level, the more points you could obtain. However, if the execution was poor, that too would impact your final scoreline.
This helps reward creativity and finish, rather than excessive modifications for the sake of it.
The dyno can be a good measure of how well an engine conversion has been carried out. You can swap in a 2JZ and strap two turbos to it and try to score high in the entire category, but if it doesn’t run properly the dyno will catch it.
On the second day of testing, which is when all the extreme cars were to make pulls, an electrical surge damaged some of the computers and put it out of commission. Competitors could breathe only a small sigh of relief as they still had to drive their car out of the venue and onto the rollers to prove that they could at least run.
Being my first time attending a show that focused on a proper scoring regiment, I shadowed a few of the judges to see what they were looking for when allocating points.
This is where attention to detail becomes absolutely crucial, as judges spend most of their time looking for imperfections rather than what has been customized.
Although an old school Volkswagen Beetle is a simple platform to work with, the craftsmanship and execution on this example was flawless.
Something a bit closer to this Speedhunter’s heart – a stripped-out EF Civic turned into a drag racer.
Of everything on show, one of my personal favorites was S15 built to destroy tires.
What really made this s-chassis special – besides the fact of how rare they are in Indonesia – is the SR20DET underneath the hood. With so many drift cars now packing four-figure power figures, it’s refreshing to see the little SR still being used, although this one is far from stock.Battle Of The Extreme
When it comes to full-blown extreme customization, there were a few builds that stood out amongst the competition.
Can you even begin to guess what platform this creation was built upon?
What about this one?
Believe it or not, both started life as Hondas – the first a four-door ’97 Civic and the latter a ’95 Accord.
As crazy as these were, all had to bow down at the feet of this Ford Falcon coupe. If you’re not familar with this model, you might think it’s just been treated to widened fenders, wheels and 347ci V8 crate engine.
But like the other truly extreme builds at Black Auto Battle, a huge amount of work has gone into it. Having started life as a sedan model, the team at Akasia Garage Custom cut, chopped, and shaped everything to make the custom coupe lines of the Falcon appear as natural as possible. And of course you have to have a banging custom system in the trunk. It will probably come as no surprise that this build claimed the top prize.
The Black Auto Battle was a good introduction to Indonesia’s extreme side of custom car culture, and how well it can blend in with some of the more traditional genres. However, I wanted to see more.
“Ron, would you like to visit the shop known for creating six- and eight-wheel vehicles from scratch?”
I thought they’d never ask…