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BANGKOK AUTO SALON

By Edd Ellison
 
It took a break last year due to the political situation but the Bangkok International Auto Salon bounced back this year and it was a big, brash and in your face as ever before.
 
This is a new concept, in fact it’s just the third edition, following on from shows in 2012 and 2013, but it’s already found its place on the crowded Thai auto show calendar by offering its own unique blueprint as the biggest modified car show in ASEAN.
 
The show, organized by Thai media giant Inspire Entertainment, is modeled straight off the world famous Tokyo Auto Salon. That means around a dozen show stopping cars from the Japanese ‘Salon’ are shipped over to compliment the best tuned and customized road and race cars that Thailand has to offer and as readers will be all to aware we have one of the most vibrant scenes for car modification in the world, barely a car on the roads of Pattaya come without some sort of bodykit, decal ornamentation or a massive air intake.
 
Crucially, the big car manufacturers have jumped onto the new concept. Market leaders Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda and Isuzu had official booths and they all showcased racing cars alongside the ‘optional extra’ kits that resonate with the market.
 
Toyota gave a debut to the ‘TRD’ version of the New Hilux Revo, which debuted a couple of months ago, alongside the muscular 86 that it runs in Thailand Super Series’ headlining ‘Super Car’ category, in fact the car on show was the famous no ‘39’ of Nattavude Charoensukhawatana, the 2013 Super Car champion and one of Thailand’s top stars for the last couple of decades.
 
Mazda showed off its stable of racecars, led out by the two brand new turbodiesel Mazda2 machines that race in TSS’s hotly competitive Super Production category. These ultra-efficient cars are at the start of their development phase but Mazda has high ambitions to take racing on a new path. Alongside the two small cars was a stunning RX-8 that the official Mazda team, Innovation Motorsports, ran at the Bangsaen Thailand Speed Festival at the end of last year. Alongside them were road cars with new ‘Racing Series’ body kits inspired by the heroics of the team on track and a new CX-5 ‘Concept’.
 
Thailand Super Series is thinking big these days so it was no surprise that its booth was packed out with menace – and muscle. Leading out the display was the monstrous Camaro GT3 of Vattana Motorsport, the big machine raced by Czech former F1 driver Tomáš Enge to double victory last December in Bangsaen. Next up was the unique ‘Australian V8 Supercar’ Holden that is raced by Craig Corliss. The New Zealander bagged a sensational win in the car, which was shipped to Australia over the close season for a total rebuilt, at the season opener and he has his eye on the title.
 
 
Then there was the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup of Sarun Sereethoranakul, the drift star turned circuit racer is the joint Super Car championship leader after the first round thanks to two consistent drives and he’s another aiming for the title. Not to be missed was the high-tech Audi R8 LMS Cup of Henk Kiks, the B-Quik Racing machine dazzling in its customary yellow and black colours, while the booth was wrapped up by the first car to be built for the series’ new ‘Racing Academy’ that aims to teach drivers the art of racing.
 
One of the booths to attract an awful lot of attention was Liberty Walk, the famous Japanese manufacturer of extreme body styling kits showed off its over-the-top wares for the Ferrari 458 Italia and Nissan GT-R.
 
Thailand’s long tradition of racecar building wasn’t to be left out either, Rotary Revolution, the famous Bangkok modifier of ‘rotary’ powered Mazdas presented the first of a new breed of RX-7 racecars that it is building this year. The car on display was finished in a stunning pink and at least six more are planned. This company is, literally, creating a ‘revolution’ in the racing world and the new programme is all set to become one of the biggest motorsport stories of the year.
 
Everything associated with the show was at the extreme end of the scale with one car after another offering lavish tuning and customization concepts while visitors were well entertained by a range of activities including of the course the always-popular sexy car wash.