Art of Speed 81

Cars come in many different shapes, sizes and permutations, and the sheer variety is so diverse that there is no one model that can satisfy the variety of enthusiasts that have come to exist. This brings rise to the sort of bickering and chest-thumping over which ones we think are the best, that takes place both in real life and all over forums and comment sections across the Internet, including those of this site.

Fortunately, car culture is so all-encompassing that we can occasionally stand back and admire each other’s machinery, even though they might not necessarily be to our liking. And nowhere was this more evident in Malaysia than at the recent Art of Speed 2015, which took place last weekend.

Now in its fourth iteration, the custom car show has grown into what is surely the biggest of its kind in the country, taking up the entirety of the sizeable Hall A of the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS). Though almost every car here was old-school, you’d have found every sub-culture imaginable – pimped-up Kancils, Japanese tuners, American muscle, Bavarian bruisers, Wolfsburg bugs and so much more besides.

As is usual for such a show, a lot of attention was placed on cars from the Land of the Rising Sun. Here, too, there’s plenty of variety, from rusted-up jalopies to Wangan police cruiser replicas, drift-style show queens and even an American-style Datsun rat rod (amongst these, the pristine unmolested Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary Edition stood out like a sore thumb).

And although builds tend to stick to parts from the same manufacturer, some tuners are bold enough to straddle those lines. One of the more striking machines here was a Datsun 260Z replete with a Toyota 1JZ-GTE 2.5 litre twin-turbo straight-six, which must have drawn the ire of many a JDM aficionado. The cross-manufacturer engine swaps crossed continents too – a blue Ford Escort looked to be a typical modded Mexico, but under the bonnet sat a 4.0 litre 1UZ-FE V8 from a Lexus LS400.

Speaking of European cars, the Continent was out in full force too. By far the biggest contingent was from Volkswagen, with several Beetles, Kombis and a Karmann Ghia making it to the show, in a variety of different customisation styles – from clean, to slammed, to Baja Bug. BMWs were also present, many of them with M Power engines (including what looked like a pukka E34 M5). Mercedes-Benzes (vintage models next to widebody 190Es done DTM-style), and a Volvo (a garish 240 with Swedish colours) too.

And of course, who can forget the Americans – right at the opening of the hall’s doors sat a huge, unapologetically orange Chevrolet Impala on a giant Hot Wheels ramp, just opposite a more subdued green Pontiac GTO. Also standing out were a C3 Corvette Stingray, a rotted-out Cadillac Eldorado and a hot rod hearse with a flamin’ paint job.

Last but not least, the show wasn’t just about the cars, but equally about the bikes as well – cafe racers, choppers, custom Harleys, period-correct Nortons, there was much to see for those of a two-wheeled persuasion too. The official presence of Harley-Davidson and Triumph – the latter held a Biker Build-Off between three customisers – certainly didn’t hurt, either.

Overall, Art of Speed 2015 was an extremely eye-opening confluence of different cultures in the car world, one where fellow enthusiasts could share and appreciate the wild and wonderful machinery on hand. We can’t wait for the next one!