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Like its host city Las Vegas, the annual SEMA gathering in 2011 was highlighted by glitz and glamour, where the world’s craziest cars, parts and accessories assembled under the one roof. It is the place where trends are formed, and dreams are created.

Closed to the general public, the Specialty Equipment Market Association show is for traders only, who travel from all over the world come to show off their skills. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place, the Las Vegas Convention Centre. The premier trade event attracts more than 100,000 industry leaders from over 100 countries for unlimited profit opportunities in the automotive, truck and SUV, and RV markets.

Each year new trends are evident in the vehicles and products on display. Being the largest show of its kind in the world, it is fair to say most successful trends originate from SEMA. We paid particular attention this year to the overwhelming amount of vehicles with ‘Kustom Finishes’ in matte, carbon fibre, brushed metallic, two-tones and of course the candy paints.

SEMA Show 2011 drew over 60,000 domestic and international buyers through two million square feet of exhibits. The displays are segmented into 12 sections, and a New Products Showcase featured nearly 1,500 newly introduced parts, tools and components. In addition, the SEMA Show provides attendees with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more…

Adam Lebrese and his XC Falcon representing Australia at SEMA

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Posted on 22 November 2011 | 5:42 pm

Summernats 24

BURNOUTS, BABES AND BLOWERS – IT’S WHAT SUMMERNATS IS ALL ABOUT! After a few years of uncertainty, Summernats 24 was shaping up really well with increased entries and a lot of positive talk. Crowd figures were reported up a little on last year, which is positive but the real difference was in the cars and quality. There are always great cars there but this being the 3 year cycle we unveiled 9 cars and had the best top 60 ever. I stated before the Elite presentation that the top 20 would be the best ever and would be defined by the cars that missed out. Cars like last years Grand Champion, 2 hot rods that made Meguiars Superstars at MotorEx 2010 and several other top elite cars. Although these cars missed the top 20 the majority embraced the new successful cars.

There were several trends this year from orange / tangerine paint, more streetable cars and several father son teams building cars. There was 3 second generation cars in the top 20, Wayne Gima’s 56 Chev, Aaron Fitzpatrick’s Datsun and Nick Bartrop’s HQ Monaro. This is great for the custom car industry and shows a real coming of age and acceptance.

This is such a huge festival with so many events happening each day. As I’ve already stated the elite cars were awesome, judging going on over 3 days with Peter Fitpatrick’s Trilogy FC Holden taking out top Engine Bay, Custom Paint, Pro Street, Peoples choice and Top Judged car overall. With all that Peter decided to compete in the driving events which he place highly in and took out the Grand Champion Sword as well. From my recollection that is the most successful car ever at Summernats. There were also some other great cars with Sam Caruana unveiling his Cinnamon HJ sedan, taking several trophies, Wayne Grima’s teal and black 56 chev, King Kong Cuda was back along with heaps of new and older cars. The street section was well attended too with A awesome red LJ Torana with a 350 chev taking the top gong.

Another feature event was the increased focus and prize money on the Liqui Moly Burnout Masters. Liqui Moly Oil and Additives have got behind the Burnout and Go Whoa diving events at Summernats where 20 cars qualify throughout the year at events and the top 5 from eliminations at Summernats qualify for the masters. The run offs are Saturday with the 5 finalists closing the Summernats on Sunday. What a shootout with the King Gary Myers claiming the inaugural Burnout Master with an awesome burnout and receiving a $15, 000 cheque.

Summernats will always be about the cars but there were some good stories this year with people going out of their way to make the event. A guy brought 2 cars from Cairns, going 2000 klms out of his way to miss the floods, another guy left Mackay 2 days earlier so he could get through, we unveiled a car where the owner lost his son only 2 days before Christmas, another couple had a mishap on the way down, the battery caught fire, burnt the rear ¼ panel but still made it down and the car made the top 20.

Bernt Karlsson, the spraypainter from Boyd Coddington’s American Hot Rod also visited the Summernats. He had a stand where he was signing posters of the cars he painted at Boyd’s, Hes choice was Wayne Grima’s 56 Chev and Tom Keves bare metal HQ holden. This is the car being built by Chad Ackland the winner of the Troy Trepanier Scholarship, it will be a top car when finished and Bernt could see the potential. He also went for a ride in several cars including Victor Bray’s Burnout machine and said to me this is the greatest car event he has ever attended anywhere in the world and it should be called Summernuts!!

Tuff street was well supported again this year with some real tuff cars, the Supercruise went off well ending with a great fireworks display and then the Angels rocked the place till close. Summernats caters for so many different tribes, it truly is a unique event and hopefully will remain strong for many years to come.

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Story: Owen Webb
Photography: John Churchill

Posted on 25 January 2011 | 5:39 pm

Jealous Ahura – Mazda RX7

There’s absolutely nothing “common” about the princely RX-7 known as Jealous Ahura

As a matter of respect, its owner must be addressed as T.M.R. These three letters are the abbreviation of “Tatah Mahkota Rawa”, which in English translates to “The Crown of Indonesia”. T.M.R. descends from the bloodline of the very first King of Malaysia. He is bona fide royalty, the man who himself will one day be the Emperor.

However, upon meeting T.M.R., a man of much importance to his people and state, you’re immediately struck by his low key nature. The quietly spoken VIP is somewhat of a Renaissance man, an elite singer and accomplished exponent of the erhu, a Chinese two-stringed violin. T.M.R. certainly has an eye for detail and with assistance from his team of loyal, royal servants – who are dedicated to the maintenance of the car 24/7 – has poured five years into the conception and creation of Jealous Ahura.

In Japanese, “Ahura” means “God of Light” and was the name given by the Mazda family to the first of its eponymous vehicles. “When the car was 70% completed, those who jeered became quiet and turned their backs on me. They never returned my phone calls again,” T.M.R. explained, “I assume they were probably jealous, hence the name for the car.”

Before its unveiling, this regal FD RX-7 was so shrouded in secrecy, it was transported to the Sydney Showgrounds – the site of Meguiar’s MotorEx – under the cover of darkness at 2am. “Most of the time, we kept Jealous Ahura covered,” said T.M.R, “but there was some spying going on.”

Jealous Ahura made history when it debuted in the House of Kolor Inauguration on Saturday 11th July 2009. It is the first international show car to participate in the prestigious event – for which it was specifically built – and the first time a vehicle from Malaysia has travelled abroad to compete. Even in the car’s infancy, T.M.R. knew his passion, belief and execution would eventually draw international interest: “It is not easy to make the cut for such a prestigious event. Some of my friends even mocked me, thinking that I would never have the drive to modify the car as the first Malaysian entry in the competition,” T.M.R revealed.

Importantly, the majestic RX-7 boasted the support and approval of government, including Tourism Malaysia, plus the Tunku Mahkota, His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Johor, who visited Team T.M.R.’s workshop upon the car’s completion. His Royal Highness is an avid car enthusiast with a fleet of exotica from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. “Tunku Mahkota scanned the car in detail. He saw the bodywork, the paint, the electronics and popped the hood to see the engine,” said T.M.R., “he was smiling all the time.”

Jealous Ahura has been many years in the making, the job at hand made all the more challenging by the limited specialists in automotive modification and customisation in Malaysia: “My team and I had to search high and low for spare parts,” T.M.R. recalled.

Whereas a local fibreglass worker made the customised widebody kit, the automatic Lamborghini scissor doors were sourced from Canada. Internationally acclaimed Aussie airbrush artist Joe Webb of Bad Image was flown with House of Kolor’s Owen Webb to Malaysia where they spent a week in Johor working on the RX-7. 

The bodywork’s “East meets West” theme features the Royal Kerawang motif of Tatah Mahkota Rawa’s own ancestry that normally adorns Indonesian and Malaysian architecture, royal clothing and handmade silver jewelery. T.M.R. was persistent that the vehicle reflect its Malay roots: “My culture is in the car.”

In a new interpretation on the traditional emblem, Webb incorporated tribal flames and pin-striping techniques throughout the House of Kolor Kandy Apple Red paint over Gold base. “I am proud of (Joe’s) work,” said T.M.R., “I must say he has done an exquisite job with my car.”

T.M.R. sourced local craftsman Nur Amynuddin who hand-made the Royal Kerawang motifs throughout the car from copper and sent them to Chrometech in Australia to be chrome-plated. The flower pods and leaves were then fully encrusted in brilliant red Swasrovski crystals.

The superbly customised interior sparkles, as does the exquisitely polished engine bay and immaculately prepared exterior, including those 19 inch Weds Sport rims. 

While international recognition is reward for the crew’s hard work, T.M.R. hasn’t lost sight of Jealous Ahura’s opportunity to shine the spotlight on Malaysia and its people, who lent their support even while the project was top secret. To show their gratitude, Team T.M.R. will embark on a road trip upon returning to Malaysia, allowing the people to at last see Jealous Ahura in all its majestic glory. That’s before T.M.R. undertakes his next automotive project, which he simply described as “American Muscle”. Won’t all the naysayers be jealous now!

SPECS. Jealous Ahura – Mazda RX7

  • Owner: Tatah Mahkota Rawa
  • Vehicle: 1991 Mazda RX7 Series VI
  • Engine: 13B twin-turbo rotary
  • Gearbox: Factory five-speed auto
  • Suspension/Brakes: Tein Super Street adjustable coil-overs with EDFC, VTTR six-piston callipers, cross-drilled (front) and slotted (rear) rotors
  • Wheels/Tyres: Weds Sport Kranze 19inch rims, Yokohama Advan Sport 255/30 (front) and 305/35 (rear) tyres
  • Bodywork: Custom bodywork and bonnet, automatic Lamborghini scissor doors
  • Interior: Red and black leather re-trim (repadded seats, steering wheel, dash, door-trims, pillars, roof-lining, red Swarovski crystals throughout, Defi Blue Racer meters (USA) (boost, water, temperature, volts), GReddy turbo timer 
  • Audio/Visual: Pioneer touchscreen TV, 6inch speakers, custom Royal Kerawang covers, subwoofer cover with RX-7 logo
  • Awards: Meguiar’s MotorEx 2009 Superstar and Kudos award

Story Elias Velis. Photography Ricardo Awadallah.

Posted on 5 August 2009 | 12:55 am


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