Art of Speed 2016-140

After moving from Citta Mall to the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Selangor (MAEPS) last year, the 2016 edition of the annual Art of Speed exhibition took place last weekend at what is fast becoming its full-time home turf. The custom car and culture show has expanded massively in its fifth year, taking up two whole halls – Hall B and Hall C – instead of just one in 2015.

As seen in previous editions, the variety of cars and styles at the event was simply staggering. It doesn’t matter if you were in the Japanese, European, American or even Malaysian camp, or if you preferred a no-nonsense tuner approach, the more aggressive look of a customised muscle car or a straight-up spotless concours restoration – there was always something for everyone, and the clash of automotive sub-cultures didn’t feel anything remotely as contrived as it initially sounded.

This year, the majority of cars featured were no longer rusted-out rat rods that dominated past iterations. There was still plenty of patina – real or simulated – on show for those who were into that sort of thing, but there was a sense that the focus has shifted to cleaner, more “polished” builds.

Cars from the Land of the Rising Sun made up a big part of the display as usual, but the number of more modern tuned cars seems to have increased this time around. Souped-up Nissan Skyline GT-Rs and the odd heavily-modified Mk4 Toyota Supra appeared to have started displacing the old-school shakotan-style machinery that used to flock these halls. Could we be seeing be a resurgence of the tuner trend?

That’s not to say that older Japanese cars went missing this year – cars like the classic Datsun 510 Bluebird could still be found making the numbers. There were also a few surprisingly subtle vehicles, like a couple of Toyota AE86’s and a particularly sleek Honda CR-X – the latter’s unadorned black body hid a Skunk2-modified Honda B-series engine, nestled within a retina-searing bright green bay.

European vehicles were also in attendance – there were the usual modified BMWs and classic Volkswagen Beetles and Microbuses, and even a extravagant custom R107 Mercedes-Benz SL. But above and beyond these were the new additions that really took the show to new heights, and those were the Porsches.

Visitors stepping into Hall A were immediately treated to the sight of a gorgeous Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, painted in the iconic red-and-blue Martini livery. But the real stars of the show were to be found in the opposite hall – three outlandish 911s were parked next to each other, all customised by renown Japanese Porsche tuner Rauh-Welt Begriff (RWB).

Porsche purists may bemoan the extroverted approach taken by the company, but the trademark bolted-on widebody kits, lurid paint jobs and the deafening mechanical rasp of the modified flat-sixes (and one V8) made did for one truly unforgettable spectacle for those who attended.

Of all the cars that were present, the absence of American metal was a little peculiar. Whereas the 2015 show featured a number of classic muscle cars, this year’s stars-and-stripes brigade consisted of just a Cadillac Series 62 and an enormous Buick Wildcat. However, visitors were treated to a special show by Japanese lowrider specialist Hi-Technix, which brought along a hydraulically-suspended Mercury Grand Marquis to hop and jump around the centre of the hall, much to the delight of those who came to see it.

Not to be forgotten were the motorcycles, with a dizzying amount of two-wheelers on show. Like the cars, the bikes have also started to deviate from the typical cafe racers and custom Harley-Davidsons, with many going for an interesting futuristic aesthetic.

One of the local stars of the scene who is making his name in building the latter is Kenny Yeoh – readers will be familiar with his custom Gundam-inspired creations, which we’ve featured on this site. His latest creation, the insane Kawasaki ER-6n-based BOBR cruiser, was on full display at AOS 2016, and it even won him a Best of Custom Street Bike award!

Meanwhile, Beautiful Machines, which created a stunning custom Harley-Davisdon Heritage Softail, won the Best of Show award, nabbing it a free trip to the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show in December.

Before setting foot into MAEPS this year, we were expecting much the same from 2015. It’s safe to say that while much of what made the show so great in previous years has been retained, there was also so much that was new and surprising. As we said last year, we can’t wait for the next one.

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