Indonesia Is A Tuner Car Paradise

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My trip to the Indonesia Modification & Lifestyle Expo (IMX) in Jakarta materialised days before the actual event itself. Since I’d be traveling to the Southeast Asian country a week later for my third trip to Kustomfest, my hosts proposed a little extension to my visit. I had one day to make a decision, but it really only took me a few moments to decide.

Fast forward 24 hours, and I found myself in the heart of Indonesia’s capital city.

Aside from both being massive, there is nothing remotely similar between Tokyo and Jakarta. While strict time management and an obsession with (mostly pointless) rules dictates life in Japan, things are much more relaxed in Indonesia. Visiting the archipelagic state really does make for a refreshing change of pace.

One other thing that quickly becomes obvious when you visit, is that Indonesians love cars. They love Japanese cars, European cars, American cars, Aussie cars, and of course their own assortment of domestic offerings. That’s what I got from the first five minutes spent walking around IMX 2023 at the Jakarta Convention Center.


It’s easy to see that Indonesia’s auto enthusiasts grew up observing and idolising JDM tuning culture. Now as adults, those with the means have projected that love and executed the ideas that have been brewing in their minds for years.

The result is one of the most impressive car cultures I’ve seen in anywhere in the world, and it’s really only still in its infancy.


That said, Indonesian enthusiasts have managed to create a car culture with their own flavor, something you’ll see for yourself as we look at IMX 2023’s standout builds.


Because, while there is a lot of love for Japanese tuning styles, local parts manufacturers are extremely proactive in pushing their products. IMX 2023 was the launch platform for a couple of Indonesian-designed and manufactured aero kits, one which was this wide-body take on the GR86 from Demonsta. To my eyes at least, it brings real Lexus RCF GT race car vibes to the latest-gen Hachiroku.


Coga also debuted their wide-body conversion for the Hyundai IONIQ 5.


Why the IONIQ 5? Well, it’s by far the most popular new EV in Jakarta thanks to a massive government tax break for purchasers. This kit is definitely one way to stand out from the crowd!


Sticking with electric cars for a moment, I had to share this modified version of a Wuling Air EV. This tiny city car sells for the equivalent of US$13K in Indonesia, and looks so cool slammed with over-fenders and an aggressive wheel fitment. I have to say – why can’t the rest of the world get $13K EVs?


Attend any custom car show in Indonesia, and you’ll quickly learn that the Honda Brio is the country’s favorite entry-level tuner platform. These tiny cars – smaller than a Fit/Jazz – are everywhere, and most examples are modified in some way. This particular Brio, however, is on another level with a heavily tuned engine and pretty much everything else.


I definitely wasn’t the only one drooling over this S15, as the XS Automotive-built, RB26-powered Nissan Silvia took home a major award from IMX 2023. What instantly caught my eye was the fact it’s running a full Garage Mak wide-body kit. The front bumper adds a real slap of aggression to the nose end.


This is hands down the cleanest and most well-thought-out RB26 swap I’ve seen in an S15. You can tell that a lot of planning went into it before any metal was cut or welded. Given the RB is considerably longer than an SR20, the factory radiator support was cut and a custom top and rear structure was fabricated and gusseted to the frame in its place. Then there’s the engine itself, which is fully built and features a new-gen HKS single electric throttle body, a wild carbon fibre plenum, and billet covers.


I need to come back to Indonesia and drive this monster S15!


Parked alongside the Silvia was another XS Automotive build, this time a BCNR33 Skyline GT-R sporting a simple but effective street setup.


Again, those billet covers – wow!


And check these two out…


I love a clean RPS13 build, and this one ticks all the boxes. Take a second to appreciate the beautifully-profiled, pumped front and rear wheel arches.


And an SR20DET that’s on point.


Finishing things off are deep, deep dish Work VS-KF wheels.

Next to the 180SX was this Porsche 997 from Fat Bro Garage, which I feel is a fresh take on well-proportioned wide-body conversions.


A few cars up was what I have to call the Subaru dream – a carbon fiber WRC wide-body conversion executed on a GDB street car.


To me, this is peak tuner Impreza. What do you think?


This GM Holden Torana was a big surprise. I’ve seen Aussie cars at shows like Kustomfest in previous years, but this one has been built with serious purpose. The Torana’s owner is a pro drifter, so no doubt we’ll see it sliding around at some point.


Garage Drift distribute Liberty Walk kits in Indonesia, and for IMX 2023 built this LBW S15 demo car…


… as well as another S15 featuring custom exterior graphics designed by a local artist.


Datsun 620 Hakotora anyone? Yes, please! Oh, and it was SR20DET-powered too.


It’s always nice to see a W109 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL looking like this. These tanks from the early ’70s have stood up to the test of time thanks to their top-notch build quality. And boy do they look good dropped down the right set of wheels.


Despite its shortfalls, I’ve always been a big fan of Toyota’s 3S-GTE engine. Maybe it’s because it was used in the JGTC, but whatever the reason, I think the 2.0L turbo four is right up there with the JDM greats. They’re a great match for the AE86 as well.


This overfender-equipped Trueno from Bandung looked super-tough sitting on bronze-barrelled Work Equip 40s.


I definitely can’t overlook the Hondas at IMX 2023, so let’s check out a couple starting with this EJ Civic on Work Meister CR01s.


This is another street car built to show standards. Every inch of the Civic coupe is perfect, with a shaved and wire-tucked engine bay directing all attention to the lobster tail exhaust manifold.


Parked alongside was this Spoon wide-body S2000 from Garage One.

Again, execution is on point, and it’s filled to the brim with top-shelf components like a blue-printed Spoon engine, HKS GT2 supercharger kit, titanium piping, an ARC air box and more.


It was at this point that a thought started running through my mind: Are Indonesian tuner cars actually a step above what I see in Japan?


As I continued my walk through the show, that thought was only reinforced.


Here are two more examples. This widened Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V on RAYS Volk Racing 21Cs looks like a JDM time attack car crossed with a show car.


And this Evo IX has an engine setup that left me stunned. Indonesia, you are awesome!


But wait, I’m not done yet.


Engine+’s booth was all about function – race-spec performance, high-end components, and motors built for ultimate response and power.


Their Lancer Evo IV drag car is something else. It has run a flat 9-second pass on the quarter mile, but has mid-to-high 7-second ability. The team just need a proper, prepped track – which sadly doesn’t exist in Indonesia – to realise its full potential


They have some very eccentric customers that buy all sorts of fun toys. Yes, you’re looking at a legit R35 GT-R GT3 race car.


To further show what Engine+ can do, here’s a K-swapped EG6 they put together.

While most would be happy running a stock K in their neo-vintage Civic, Engine+ have upped the ante here with a fully blue-printed motor capable of revving to the moon. Of course it’s running a dry sump conversion too.


Then there’s this Civic, which was probably my favorite car of the whole event.


I love how it looks so innocent from the outside.


Under the custom hood sits something special – a built K24 running a Full Race/BorgWarner EFR turbo setup.


The Civic is also no longer front-wheel drive. Thanks to the addition of an AWD Honda CR-V rear end and some custom engineering, drive is sent to all four wheels via a sequential transmission.

I said ‘peak Impreza’ earlier, and for me this is peak Civic. Check out the Recaro seats too.


I’ll end my coverage of the 2023 Indonesia Modification & Lifestyle Expo with a company creating aerodiscs/turbofans for the smaller wheel community. Finally!

Visiting IMX was nothing short of enlightening. I think I may have discovered JDM paradise outside of Japan, so I need to come back to Indonesia for more.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare

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