"Rat Rod" - Unique Customized Datsun 620 Pickup @ Seacon Square, Bangkok (30 Jun 2012)

"Rat Rod" - Unique Customized Datsun 620 Pickup @ Seacon Square, Bangkok (30 Jun 2012)

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1st Bangkok International Auto Salon @ Impact Exhibition Center (21 June 2012)
Japanese motorsport has fused with Thai motorsport at the Impact Exhibition Center this week as the first edition of the Bangkok International Auto Salon showcases an array of competition cars that puts the pursuit of track excellence at the exhibition's forefront. The brand new concept, licenced from the Tokyo Auto Salon, is a joint venture between Siam Sport Syndicate Plc and its subsidiary, Inspire Entertainment Co. Ltd., a local media powerhouse with the inaugural show being opened last Thursday by Privy Councilor Admiral M.L. Usni Pramoj. The concept of hosting the Bangkok Auto Salon grew out of the birth of Inspire Entertainment's 'Option' magazine, which launched three years ago (the company also has 'Car', 'BestCar' and 'Thai Driver' amongst its portfolio). Option, which is drawn from the Japanese magazine of the same name, carries over the basic format as well as three-quarters of the content before adding Thai tuning to the mix. It proved to be an instant hit, so much so that the first issue went for reprint. "It's doing very well," said Ms Duangkamon Isarapandh, Director of Corporate Strategic Management at Inspire Entertainment on the sidelines of the show. She believes that Option was able to plug a gap: "There was an opportunity in Thailand, nobody sees this opportunity." The Auto Salon was a logical next step. "We did market research," she says. "Thai people want to personalize their cars, want to be unique." Add to that the fact that the big Japanese brands account for nine out of ten cars sold in Thailand and the space for the show was out there. Option's editorial team travelled to Japan to study the Tokyo Auto Salon. "Tokyo is the number one modified tuning show in the world, we took the best parts and blended it," she says, "We want to look at the ASEAN market, we want to be [the] number one car show in this region in five years and we are confident we can achieve it." The show, however, has more depth than just an array of exotic cars, activities and accessory stands, it is aiming to help promote the Small and Medium size Enterprises (SME) that work in the field covered by the Auto Salon. "We want to help SMEs," says Ms Duangkamon. "Thailand is very good for aero kits," she notes as an example, "there are several good SMEs [here] and OEMs produce here." The show thus provides a real "opportunity for those business owners to develop," she reckons. To that end the TAI (Thai Automotive Institute) and Ministry of Industry are closely involved, with a showcase that has seen SMEs "invited to share their visions and experience and how the package, do the branding and marketing." Also involved is the Ministry of Tourism & Sports as well as the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau. The organizers have brought 30 cars from Japan for the show, she says that it is "the largest number ever shipped into Thailand for an event," and they add up to a value of 250 million baht. As well as the cars, "we bring from the Tokyo Auto Salon, Japanese pretty and image girls, Ms Duangkamon continues, noting that: "by bringing the cars, girls and atmosphere to Thailand, people have a chance to see what they love and like, without the cost of having to go to Japan." A real racing theme pervades the show, and this says Ms Duangkamon reflects the fact that "motorsport is becoming more and more popular in Thailand." Headlining the four strong display in the centerpiece 'Option Zone' is a Mazda 787B, sister of the car that sensationally won the Le Mans 24 Hours two decades ago. The example on show at Impact is #202, which is in the same iconic bright green and orange colours of lead sponsor 'Renown' that the neat and tidily designed 787B wore when it claimed an unexpected victory in 1991. It still remains the only Japanese car to have won the world's most famous and demanding endurance race. However, #202 raced in JPSC and it has some interesting features that distinguish it from the Le Mans cars, no headlights for starters, as well as being slightly shorter. Part of a winning breed that have justifiably entered the motorsports history books -- only the truly great win at Le Mans -- it was only logical that the inaugural Bangkok International Auto Salon would celebrate that amazing achievement, "We picked the most distinguished cars," says Ms Duangkamon. Next to the historic Group C Mazda is the latest product of Japanese track performance thinking, Nissan's Leaf Nismo RC. Retaining the Leaf's stock 107 hp AC motor and battery, the mechanicals are slung into a carbon-fibre unibody; there are just 8 in the world, and one is in residence at Impact this week. "It's interesting as its the first electric car to be tuned for racing and has very advanced technology," notes Ms Duangkamon. Joining this cutting-edge pair, albeit cars that represent totally different eras, is the showroom-spec Toyota FT86 that completed the Nurburgring 24 Hours last year... continue reading at www.racingnewsthailand.com





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