To your left you see a full row of Porsches from all eras. To your right, you see countless British classics and also vintage American cars plus a few muscle cars. Spending your time here feels like as though you’ve traveled back in time. Only the people around you in present clothing and the occasional modern cars brings your mind back to reality. But what a reality this is!
I’m talking about the annual Asia Klasika vintage & classic car concours which took place a few weeks ago in front of the MARTRADE Exhibition & Convention Center where owners of classic and vintage cars of all makes are welcomed to participate, in the hopes to win a trophy for their respective category.
This car event is a pretty big deal in the country. So much so that the Sultan of Johor is one of the judges for the concours. The Sultan of Johor is very well-known in the country for his love of cars and motorbikes, not to mention his huge collection of these priceless examples, in which he had kindly brought a handful of them to be displayed at the concours.
Being the Sultan of Johor has its perks. He has his very own police team with police motorbikes and police cars personally selected by the sultan himself. His police escort for that day consist of many identical Harley Davidson police motorcycles painted in his signature color combination of white and baby blue. His Bugatti Veyron and his few Bentley Mulsannes came in the same color combo too.
Also part of his escort were a few Holden Commodore SS which are only available in Australia and powered by a massive 6.0 liter V8, and also a few Chrysler 300C with army-specific number plates. The sultan had to leave early in the afternoon as soon as he had picked a winner (thankfully his car collection was here to stay), and boy did he left the place in style!
No, the sultan did not leave the venue in a Rolls-Royce or Maybach which would be expected. Instead, his mode of transport for the day was not one, but two Mercedes-Benz 600 Landaulet in which only 59 of them were ever made. Landaulet meant that it featured a half hard-top at the front, and half convertible fabric-top for the rear passengers. In case you’re wondering why he brought two of them, the second car was for his guests. Simply because he can.
As soon as the sultan left, the crowd was noticeably less or at least it felt like it. Anyways, back to the concours. The sultan may had left but his car collection did not. Lamborghini Espada, Jalpa, Aston Martin V8/Virage/Vantage including the original 1978 Corvette pace car which was used during the 62nd annual Indianapolis 500 Mile Race are just some of the cars the sultan kindly brought for display.
As much as I admire those well-maintained classics from the sultan’s personal collection, they are still far from the highlight of the concours. Oh yes, there were more rare and exotic cars displayed here.
What comes to mind when you hear the name Bugatti? The EB110 of course! (what Veyron?) Despite powered by a relatively small displacement 3.5 liter V12 engine, it was fitted with not one, not two, but four(!) turbochargers. The end result was 553hp, an impressive top speed of 213 mph (343 km/h), and lots of thirst (most probably). There was even a more bonkers Super Sport version which had 603hp.
What made all this figures extremely impressive was the fact that the Bugatti EB110 was launched back in the year 1991. Only a handful of supercars today could even come close to its top speed despite having more power. Impressive technological achievement aside, the exterior appearance of the EB110 is a whole different story.
No it’s not ugly to my eyes, but I wouldn’t call it attractive either. Either way, this car will turn heads for its outrageous looks and extremely low stance. Plus, what makes this Bugatti special is its rarity. With only a mere 139 units ever produced, you will see more Veyrons (around 350 made) than you would see the EB110. The fact that less owners would drive their less-comfy EB110 on the road makes it an even tougher car to spot.
Speaking of rare, the next highlight car for me is more than ten times rarer than the EB110, and even better looking too. I’m talking about the Aston Martin DB7 Zagato!
Based on the DB7 Vantage, the Zagato version features the identical 6.0 liter V12 petrol engine with around 430hp but what makes the Zagato version special is the body. With only 100 made (99 sold to customers and one kept for Aston Martin’s museum), the outer aluminium body shell is painstakingly hand-beaten and formed by Zagato coach-builders in Italy, all one hundred of them.
The beautiful and perfectly formed body work is a masterpiece in itself, especially the Zagato’s signature double bubble roof which are also hand-beaten to shape. Not only that, the DB7 Zagato also features a completely new front grille which is huge and occupies the whole front section of the car. Look at it dead center and it reminds me of the piranha fish for some reasons. The same applies for the Rapide S (click on it to see what I mean).
Other rare gems include the Jaguar E-Type, classic Ford Mustangs, Aston Martin Lagonda saloon, Lamborghini LM002 SUV, and also a De Tomaso Pantera with a custom-fitted six(!) exhaust pipes.
This may sound odd, but the best part of the show was actually when the concours ended. Everyone who were still there could witness all the hundreds of classics and vintage cars come to life as the owners prepares to drive them away or load them up onto trailers.
Not only we get to see them on the move, but also listen to the mechanical goodness of these engines built during times where fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions did not matter. Unsurprisingly, that six-exhaust Pantera stole the show decibel-wise. Sounding very angry even on idle.
And there you go, a brief travel back in time, admiring great (and bad) cars from all generations and eras. We can literally see how cars evolved over the years right in front of our eyes, from many car companies, all in one place.
It is just like walking through a hall of fame but everyone is still alive in front of you. Because cars never die, only us humans (and rust) are capable of “killing” them. So take good care of your car, and you will be doing your part for our automotive history. I already can’t wait for next year!