Even at the best of times, car meets in Bali are extremely rare. Why? There are a number of reasons, but it mostly boils down to the scene being extremely small. Cars outside of the run-of-the-mill Balinese norm are very expensive to own, and then there are only are handful of tuner shops that can build cars and maintain them.
But what the local enthusiast community lacks in size it makes up for in passion, so when an event happens I do my best to get along and catch a glimpse of the car culture unique to this tropical Indonesian island.
Last weekend’s Nyore Chill-Noon Drive was hosted by Speedtuner Dewata, a well-known automotive apparel brand in Indonesia. The event entailed a drive from Parkir Timur Denpasar in the heart of Bali’s capital, to the popular Monkey Forest tourist spot in Ubud, around 45 minutes away.
Although I knew the turnout would be large by Balinese car scene standards, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the cars themselves, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Car culture is more than just rare JDM models or expensive exotics; it’s about connecting and spending quality time with like-minded people. So meets like this one will always have my support.
As you can see, BMWs and Toyota models made up a large proportion of the cars that turned out for the Chill-Noon Drive. That makes sense as these are some of the more common makes and models on the island. Many Balinese enthusiasts also lean towards the affordable options; it’s about working with what you can get and achieve on your budget over everything else.
What’s surprising is the number of KE30 and KE70 Corollas on the island, so many in fact that Bali has its own enthusiast club for these cars. They’re old school, rear-wheel drive and affordable – what’s not to love?!
The next step up would be BMW E30s and E36s. They’re not nearly as affordable, but parts are readily available, which is a big thing. I used to own a Subaru Impreza WRX STI – quite uncommon in Bali – and had to wait six months for a single OEM bushing replacement, which then cost double what you’d pay anywhere else in the world. So it’s actually smarter to enjoy cars that have plenty of local support.
This purple E36 M3 replica has a proper S50B32 engine (tuned by UKworks Performance Bali) under-hood. Most modified and tuned cars on the island have some sort of UKworks connection.
Once everyone was assembled, we started the 20+km drive to the famed Monkey Forest.
Bali’s economy is extremely reliant on tourism, and without international visitors locals have been forced to look for other ways to survive. I know people who’ve had to sell their cars and others now selling produce grown at their homes just to make ends meet.
That said, it was great to have had the meet in Ubud as a way to support the local economy and donate to the welfare of the Monkey Forest’s furry inhabitants.
A few latecomers joined in the festivities at this point, including group of Honda Civic Estilo (EG6) hatchbacks. This is another highly-desirable model, and in good condition they’re worth a lot of money.
The Honda Brio, meanwhile, is an affordable car to buy and modify, which makes them very popular in Bali. The blue car has been turbocharged and features numerous chassis and suspension upgrades, while the yellow Brio remains naturally aspirated, but with a later-model facelift, carbon fibre bits, a roll cage and coilovers.
I had a fun time at the Nyore Chill-Noon Drive. There was a wider variety of cars than I expected, and everyone was happy to be out together on a Saturday afternoon with fellow enthusiasts. Hopefully we can do it again soon.