Tasting The Flavour Of Malaysia At Retro Havoc Encore

There’s certain events we come back for time and time again here at Speedhunters. Events that never fail to impress, surprise and delight the enthusiast that lives within. Malaysia’s Retro Havoc is most definitely one of them.

Ron and I have tag-teamed this event since 2016, and I was stoked to be back in Kuala Lumpur after almost three years of no international travel. By now the enthusiasm that Alie – the event’s organiser – and Malaysia as a whole has for custom car culture should be no surprise to our readers, so that said, let’s get to the core of what brings us back to Retro Havoc year after year (apart from the nasi lemak) – the cars.


Entrants arrived throughout the evening prior to the event and positioned their vehicles until about 2:00am. Knowing just how packed these Retro Havoc shows have been in the past, I’d concocted a strategy: wake up earlier than everyone else and sneak down into the Basement Two level before the gates opened and the floor was filled with enthusiasts.


This way I could grab unimpeded photos of all the cars, and then spend time after the doors opened chatting to the owners and Speedhunters loyalists who came down to check out the show.

Retro Havoc has always been just as much of a party as a car show, with DJs, celebrity guests and the always-popular lucky door prize – this year a custom-built Honda C70 Super Cub. So I didn’t want to miss out on the fun stuff.


With over 600 cars in attendance, I’d need to be quick, so it was a two camera, two lens setup for the initial walk through (for those curious, a Canon R6 with Sigma 30mm F1.4 and a Canon 5D Mark III with my trusty 70-200mm F2.8). I returned later in the day with a super-wide lens to scoop some engine bay shots once the bonnets had been propped open.


Retro Havoc is skewed towards classic and neo-classic cars, but it’s hard to nail down an overall criteria for the event – an intentional move by the organisers to keep things fresh and as welcoming as possible to all enthusiasts. If it’s classic or modified, you’ve got a chance of finding it at Retro Havoc.


One of the first cars to catch my eye was this Nissan Stagea, which even from a distance suggested some serious modifications.


Closer inspection confirmed that – an R34 GT-R Nismo Z-Tune style front-end conversion!


The Biadap (translation: rude) crew had a few cars in position in the early morning, including this restrained 180SX. Their area would be pumping all day with merch sales and promotions.


This series eight RX-7 managed to find some empty space for itself between two of the large display areas.


White-on-white is such a timeless look.


The BWB Crew is a group of local enthusiasts who take a no-compromise approach to the kaido racer style. Accompanying their impressive display of cars was an authentically-JDM chill-out area to sip Boss coffee and smoke Lucky Strikes in.


Check out the offset on those front wheels! BWB imports tyres from Banzai Racing Equipment in Japan that are specifically made for these retro builds.


The crew had a few cool scooters on display, but this weird quad bike based on a VW Beetle fender stole my heart.


Even better, there was a matching keitora parked nearby.


The Daihatsu HiJet and accompanying quad were both built by local shop Kuro no Gareji.


Directly across from BWB was a part of the Thai contingent who had made the 1,500km journey down from Bangkok to take part in the festival of retro speed.


Yes, these cars were driven – on absolutely punishing public roads – to the event. These guys refuse to miss a Retro Havoc event; their commitment to show up and show off is extremely impressive.


One of my favourites from Malaysia’s northern neighbour was this creation named ‘Reflection 2021′.


It was channeling some vintage touring car vibes, including reference to some of the popular sponsors from the early DTM and ADAC days.


I’m learning that with Thai cars, you can never assume what’s under the hood. A Toyota 1JZ with high-mount turbo has found its home in the Mercedes’ matt black engine bay.


Could you spend 24 hours behind the wheel, driving this down from Bangkok? I might be getting a bit old for that.


In the trunk, the owner had found a creative solution to presenting his air suspension tank. Imagine trying to explain that to Malaysia’s border patrol…


Next to the Mercedes, another Thai creation harking back to the peak of golden era Honda tuning was this EK Civic sedan.


To find a B-series motor in the tucked and shaved engine bay was refreshing in a world of K-swaps.

Roll cage-mounted NOS tanks, so hot right now.


Another favourite from the same group was this pumped-out E30 with a suggestive comment on the rear spoiler…


Returning later in the day, my suspicions were confirmed. A Toyota-sourced V8 neatly tucks between the front strut towers to power this orange beast.


Just around the corner lurked this freshly restored and muscled-up Honda S600.

I was told that it’s currently powered by a kei van engine, but also that something more exciting will be coming soon. Dino spied this same car at Art of Speed one month prior.


Continuing our stroll through The Curve Damansara’s B2 floor brings us to quite a collection of BMW 2002s.

The low-riding cream convertible was a favourite amongst show-goers; there was a line for selfies with the car each time I walked past!


With the hardtop removed I could check out the interior. Retrofitted air conditioning is an absolute must-have for Malaysia’s sticky tropical climate.

Seeing double? Nope, there were indeed two 2002 Turbos in attendance.


The owner of this Malaysian-registered Turbo found the car rotting in a front yard in Penang, near the Thai border. A long-time 2002 enthusiast, he saved it fully expecting to be towing home a replica, but was – to state the obvious – rather pleasantly surprised to find it was the real deal. A full restoration ensued, and the end result had me green with envy. What a car!


This photo shows the slight amount of pearl which was mixed through the original paint colour and gives a nice contemporary touch to the finished product.

I’m sure you guys won’t mind a few more photos, right? I simply can’t get enough of those mirrored graphics on the deep front spoiler.


Rounding out the group was this slammed narrow-body 2002 from Thailand. The execution was flawless, and it ended up taking home the ‘Best of the Best’ award – very well deserved.

Local Heroes

Here was a sight that gave me an unexpected trip down memory lane. On a trip into Sydney city circa 2001 (the actual purpose of the trip long forgotten), I came across a display for a new car manufacturer in the Australian market – Proton. Their hero display vehicle? A silver Satria GTi identical to the one before me.


The riveted-on fenders, ‘Handling by Lotus’ badging and square exhaust tip were enough to suggest to my unskilled eyes that this was indeed a true performance car, not just my mum’s Mitsubishi Lancer.


Admittedly, the Proton wasn’t too far off a Lancer. KL-based H&L Classics has done a fantastic job presenting this Satria to a standard they usually apply to the Mercedes-Benz vehicles they specialise in.


Just check out that Recaro interior, what a treat!


A version that we certainly didn’t get in Australia was the R3 – a seam-welded, stripped-out equivalent to Honda’s Type R range. With only 150 produced and many ending up with full-time careers in motorsport, a clean street car such as this one is a rarity.


Before the Satria came along, there was the Saga, which despite its humble origins as a low-cost commuter car has become a favourite of local customisers.


The Mitsubishi underpinnings make swapping in higher-spec components – like an Evo’s 4G63 engine – a legitimate route to elevate performance levels.


The boxy ’80s styling is coming of age, too. I think I surprised some of my hosts with my level of enthusiasm for these Protons, but ended up with the important job of judging a ‘Best in Show’ category for cars from the Malaysian manufacturer.


However, the Proton that kept me coming back was this 2nd generation Satria built by Narock Garage.


These 2nd gen cars did not have a Mitsubishi base chassis, but that didn’t stop Narock from adding a MIVEC CA head to the original 4G93 block.


Apparently this very car was at the last Retro Havoc I attended back in 2016, but the transformation means it is today unrecognisable from the almost stock car which rolled in six years ago.


It represents nicely how the scene in KL and Retro Havoc have also been levelling up – every year the ranks of top-tier builds grows stronger. Poring over this engine bay revealed detail after detail of quality componentry and uncompromising fabrication. Not forgetting for a second that an HKS T40Z pumping boost into Link-managed MIVEC head should make for an extremely potent powerplant – ‘north of 500hp’ is what I was told.


From a distance, it seemed as if some of the panels had been camouflage wrapped. Closer inspection revealed a process much more intricate and impressive – carbon fibre painstakingly laid up with alternating weave styles to give the mottled effect. Very cool.

The carbon fibre had even replaced the dash, centre console and door skins, complementing the caged and stripped-out interior. As a result, I selected this Neo as the ‘Speedhunters Choice’ of the event.

Regional Diplomacy

Everywhere I looked there was something different to enjoy and explore. Vehicles came from Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, and guests from even further afield. I even ran into fellow Speedhunter Rick Muda on the show floor, who was in town from Bali.


This year’s international contingent of judges and guests included yours truly, longtime supporters Daijiro Inada (Option magazine) and Shoji Inoue (Star Road), as well as first-timers Akira Iida and Masaki Sata.


Inoue-san’s style of hot-rodded S30s has worldwide recognition, so it wasn’t surprising to see a build at Retro Havoc adopting the Star Road character.


Exposed carbon fender flares barely cover the sticky tyres stretched around 15-inch Glow Star wheels with gloss black barrels.


Deleting the front and rear chrome bumpers gives a neo-classic look…


…But under the hood, performance modifications are distinctively classic in style. Inoue-san’s preference is that his cars always retain a carbureted fuel supply, preferably using SUs.

It was one of the crowd favourites for good reason.


Every time I’m in Malaysia I seem to come across a Ford Escort RS Cosworth – no complaints from me of course!


When I later stumbled across this Pandem-kitted EG Civic, I couldn’t help to see a familial resemblance with those boxy flares.


This car was part of a display area run by Motor Maniac, which featured some builds you’d equally expect to see on the show floor at Wekfest Japan.


Malaysia loves rally, and as a result Evo and WRX models are highly coveted. This is just a small selection of Mitsubishi and Subaru’s finest on display.

Final Favourites
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Here we have an RE Amemiya-themed FC3S Mazda RX-7.


Impressively, it even wore a set of the wheels designed and released by RE Amemiya in period – a real treasure-hunt item for rotary fans these days.


I always have time for a DR30 Nissan Skyline. The red and yellow plates you see here denote that this is a classic registration vehicle from Singapore.

All that’s required to make this boxy shape look the part is bolt-on flares and some suitably deep, low offset wheels. Work Meister CR01 are a fantastic choice.


I always make time for a transaxle Porsche, which are still rarities at custom shows, especially in this part of the world.


This Turbo was wearing a set of ‘lobster claw’ wheels, which I never thought would look so good on a car 30 years younger (and about a tonne lighter)!

JDM passion is alive and well in Malaysia, just as it is around the rest of the world. Higher and higher prices are on everyone’s mind too, even for previously unpopular models. There really is no escape.


Another one you might remember from Dino’s trip to KL – this very faithful replica of Paul Walker’s R34 GT-R from 2 Fast 2 Furious.


Even after reading Dino’s coverage it was still rather shocking to behold the Toyota Century-sourced V12 in the Nissan’s engine bay!


Who can match this movie replica with its film and fictional owner?


The Pandem kit for the FC RX-7 is one of my favourites from Kyoto-based Miura-san. Those quad central spotlights are such a unique touch.


It truly looks good from any angle.

This Starlet GT was immaculate, and seemed to be sporting a Hyundai N ‘Performance Blue’ inspired paint job?


Some Super Touring vibes from this Accord.


These two Datsun 510s were at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum of style, but delivered some real impact when parked together.


Another unexpected engine swap, this 350Z had its cylinders rearranged from vee to inline with a 2JZ conversion.


Another favourite was this A31 Nissan Cefiro from local shop Dazzle Racing.


The RB25 billet cam cover was the centrepiece of an extremely well-presented engine bay.


Brakes were borrowed from a Porsche Cayenne and fit snuggly under the rarely-seen forged RAYS Volk Racing GT-S wheels.


I’ll wrap up the coverage with a closer look at a final Thai car, indeed one that had me quite confused.


A beautifully presented Mazda 323F/Astina which seemed to be a limited high grade, albeit one I’d never heard of nor seen before.


As far as I can tell, this generation of Astina was never sold with a turbocharged 1.8L BP engine, so is this actually a very well executed ‘OEM+’ custom swap? Any knowledgeable readers, please fill me in.


Regardless, it was yet another fantastic inclusion in the mixed lineup of cars at Retro Havoc 2022 ‘Encore Edition’.

I could honestly continue writing about the cars of Retro Havoc until this becomes the longest Speedhunters story of all time, but I’ll sign off here and leave you with a mega gallery below of the other cars that left an impression on the day.

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See you at Retro Havoc 2023!

Blake Jones
Instagram: blaketjones

The Best of the Rest
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Nice show. What?!!!! No Volkswagens?!!!!!!!! They're FIRED!!!!!!! Love the orange Jaegermeister BMW. Engine/interior pics?


Got to love the import scene in Malaysia
One of my favorites


So many cool cars!!!

[nerd] PS: Such a well lit parking lot :O[/nerd]


There's actually a LOT of vehicles based on volkswagen beetle fenders.


Morimoto's 350z from Tokyo Drift.

Bandisprayworks Bandisprayworks

Tqvm black jones !!! Nice coverage


The 2002s ! <3


Good to see some old Satria GTI's, these things were so chuckable and with a 4G63T a weapon.


Astina never came with turbo, looks like it comes from 323/Familia GTX/GT-R (BG), or its just turbocharged NA BP engine. Many parts are interchangeable in 90' mazdas- funny fact easiest way to turbocharge an Miata is get an exhaust manifold from 323 BPT


Love the scene they have out there, thanks for getting so many photos! Love the 2002s but that BTTF Ford Laser/Escort was a fun surprise as well.


Man that Civic Sedan has me feeling some kind of way... wish I could score a shoot with one around my parts :(


Thank you Blake Jones for the awesome pictures!


Blake, I know you are going to do a full feature on the BMW E30 V8, right? Right!!