Every month we feature the best cars and events from our neck of the woods, as well as tapping into our contributor pool for dope content from abroad (for example, from Japan and Australia in recent years). In '17, we were lucky to give you more of a taste of the booming scene in Thailand thanks to our shooter Chad Burdette, with coverage of Bangkok Auto Salon and feature cars including this R Magic RX-7 and this monster 600hp-plus Toyota MR2. Continuing with our goal to cover the world's tuning scene, this past November I embarked on a 22-hour journey to check out another up-and-coming car scene, this time in Jakarta, Indonesia. I wouldn't be alone, though; Mark Arcenal and Brian Santos of Fatlace/Illest were also by my side, and we'd be partnering up with one of Asia's longest-running enthusiast shows called International Automodified to bring a little U.S. flavor—the first-ever SuperiLL Asia pop-up car meet and show.
Automodified has been around just as long as Super Street, born in '96 and successfully organizing events across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. They've collaborated with the likes of Hot Import Nights in the past, and have continued to do their part in providing an outlet for enthusiasts to showoff their pride and joys in the growing aftermarket car communities of Southeast Asia. Mark, Brian and I were invited to get a taste of the local scene and give out a few SuperiLL awards to our favorite rides. What we didn't expect were some of the hurdles some of these guys face.
The biggest problem many folks in Indonesia have is the taxation and affordability of cars. Buying or importing a car isn't the same as it is back home. Enthusiasts often have to pay up to three times what we do here. For example, a brand new Toyota 86 costs more than $50K! With that said, it makes it tough for people to get into modifying cars. There's a shortage of homebuilt heroes as most enthusiasts have to be making quite a bit of dough to get into the hobby, and most builds are done completely at shops rather than part-by-part in someone's garage.
Taking all of this into account, Automodified has been the mecca where the top cars of Indonesia show off every year. They pride themselves in screening the cars before being entered, and they also enforce a rule where the same cars can't come year after year with the same modifications. This forces owners and shops to keep updating their cars, and it keeps things fresh for spectators.
As far as car quality goes, don't expect to see cars that rival vehicles at Wekfest or Tuner Evolution. It's a developing scene and the enthusiasts there are drawing inspiration from everything they see from social media, magazines and online. I noticed that the 86 (GT86 in Indonesia) was a very popular choice, similar to how it felt a few years ago when the FR-S and BRZ were still fresh here. For years, Indonesia has always been known to have a lot of slammed and VIP cars which was apparent walking Automodified. I was slightly disappointed there wasn't as many classic or old-school cars there but they're extremely hard to come by. Things like S2000s and S13s were never sold in the country, so for locals to even see them in the country is a trip.
I had a chance to talk to many locals and they truly emulate the North American scene. Many of them have been following Super Street and Import Tuner for years, which made it rewarding to meet so many loyal and passionate enthusiasts. There's still much to be improved upon in Indonesia but they have a lot of factors working against them. Despite the hurdles, there were some examples of excellence and here is a gallery of some of the best rides of our first ever SuperiLL Asia event.