If there was a great time to be alive as a car guy, I would say that today, where we are right now in the year 2019 is an astonishing time to be alive. Today – we sit at an equilibrium in the timeline between the best of yesteryears that the car industry have offered, and a front row view of exactly how cars will be in the near future. Humans have been so engrossed to make the car absolutely perfect, spending billions in research, innovation and experimentation with technology to improve cars and ultimately make them faster, better, and safer for drivers today. And if you ask me, where we are right now, we’ve reached a point where the best of cars today are built to almost no faults and flaws.
But here’s a food for thought – if cars are so great today… why do we keep looking back? Consider the new Nissan GTR for example. Its fast, its quick, and it is the perfect example everything you could possible want and need from a fast sports car. But when you drive one, you are basically sitting inside a super high tech computer attached to a 600bhp engine. Cars today are built to transport you from point A to point B in the fastest, safest, and most efficient way a car could, and perfection equals lack of soul. We 90s kids have it the worse. Playstation comes to mind yet?
Cars today are just not made the same way as they used to. Sure, they’re not as quick, not as efficient, and definitely not as safe as they are today. Sometimes they don’t work perfectly, but it was the flaws, the clunkiness, the failures, and the difficulties that gave these machines from yesteryears a soul. And if you ask me, the epitome of car history had to be the 1990s. It was the time where manufacturers had found the groove to make great, reliable engines; yet they didn’t have to care about emissions, regulations, or safety (to a certain extent). It was a time when manufacturers cared about how a car feels on the drive, which is why the 90s gave birth to the best cars that we know and love today!
Passion drives emotion – and the appreciation for cars must come from a deep place inside our hearts that finds this irrevocable love replaceable. And to fuel this passion and love, it takes patience, virtue, and let’s be honest… a heck load of $$$ to make that dream garage happen. Must gladly be said though, that Tony, the owner and keeper of this garage has spent quite a dime to complete this collection. And while we’re on the subject of value, we’re going to just put it out there, that this garage easily creeps to about RM1.5 million!
What’s in the garage?
Happiness must be said, that it cannot be achieved through possession. But if you’re successful and excel in many parts of your life, then you can reward yourself with these toys. Tony is a big time car guy, and when we first got acquainted with him back in circa 2011-2012, he was already running a few top notch supercars at the time. We used to join drives with Blue Jackets Society, a supercar enthusiasts club that surrounded themselves with minds alike, and Tony would show up in his Ferrari 430 Scuderia painted in a very special shade of Azzuro California or his Signal Green Mk1 997 GT3 RS. But as with most car guys, well before that, he had already gone through his JDM phase in the early years. Back in the mid 2000s in fact, Tony used to own a specialised JDM workshop in Sunway building 1000hp Skylines and 700hp Evos. So this love for JDMs did not happen overnight!
After excluding himself away from the JDM scene and focusing on his personal and family business, Tony started car shopping again about 2 years ago. I remember bumping into him at Naza Italia, when he came to check out his then new, Ferrari 488 GTB. Shortly after that, he got a Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2 to go into the garage pairing. These are some properly serious Supercars! Yet 12 months down the line, I noticed he began to acquaint himself again with some modern classic JDMs. I asked him once, “why’d you sell all your Supercars bro?” and he just smiled that hinted otherwise. It was clear that these cars didn’t make him fall in love with driving again. It didn’t deliver the same energy and excitement that fuelled his passion and love for cars and driving. So he looked back, and rediscovered his love for these modern classic JDMs again…
There are six (6) JDM modern classics in this garage, and each and everyone of them have been chosen to represent the best that these generation of cars had to offer from Japan. Starting from as early as 1990 with the Skyline BNR32 GTR, followed by the 1998 NSX Type-S, the 1999 Honda Integra DC2 Type-R, the 2002 Skyline BNR34 GTR V-Spec II Nür, the 2002 Mazda RX7 Spirit-R, and the 2004 Mitsubishi Evo 8 MR. Through the years, these 90s born and bred cars (with the exception of the Evo 8 MR of course) had delivered some of the most notable advances in car development and engine tuning, stratifying itself today in the JDM hall of fame and renowned for its cult status.
The late 90s and early 2000s period was a transitional period between pure raw breeds and the inculcation of electronics in cars. Today, cars are almost 80% managed by computers and electronics, thus every input that you give is calculated by a box somewhere within the car to make you go faster and safer. These cars here, they’re different. Take the NSX for example, it is I would say, the most raw iteration of the 6 cars in the Ageing Chamber. No traction control, no power steering, a 6-speed manual gearbox and about 300 horsepower to be managed. It doesn’t sound like much by today’s standard, because every other hot hatch has more than 300bhp today; yet the driving experience is of a completely different nature. No nanny state, just you managing every piece of mechanical grip there is to keep the NSX on the road.
Although, it must be said that within the compounds of the garage Tony still owns two other very special modern classic Euros that he adores very much. The BMW M5 E60 that was infamous for its F1 derived 5.0-litre V10 engine and the E46 M3 CSL that could possibly be, the best ///M car ever made! We got the opportunity to roam around in these cars for a bit too, and we can understand what the owner seeks in the characteristics of cars. These cars, they’re all about the experience between man and machine.
Why is it called the “Ageing Chamber”?
There will never be another moment again in the future, where you could still find these JDM modern classics in its purest, most untouched form. Not for the same current value at least. Did you know that the value of these cars are only appreciating by the day? Speculators say that in just a few years time when the 25 year classic car restriction in the United States opens up for these 90s cars, the value will only be going up. But I have to establish right here, that Tony DID NOT purchase these cars for investment purposes. He’s a real car guy, and let’s admit it, we car guys could give two shits about the appreciating value.
While many of us would push to modify or restomod these cars into untameable monsters, it is not Tony’s aspiration for his collection. His goal is to keep these cars as stock as possible, reimagining that similar experience as someone would have, buying the car out of a Nissan or Honda dealership back in the golden days when these cars were new.
Designed to preserve – 2 years ago, Tony had built this garage back in his home town in Kedah to store his then Supercar collection in a well ventilated space. But by the moment this garage space came into completion, the collection had turned completely 180 degrees into JDM modern classics. The idea is simple, to build a garage that resembled a ‘man cave’ rather than just a parking space. It would be a place to unwind, where he would go to find some peace and quiet with his cars. He would store everything that he loved in this garage, including memorabilia items, car parts, and model diecast cars too! Inside, the garage is also air-conditioned to ensure that the paint, rubbers, and seals of the car are kept at pristine temperature to preserve these cars in its best form. And at all moments, the shutters would be closed to keep dust away other than the time the car goes in or out of the “Ageing Chamber”.
Tony believes that in the next 10 or 20 or even 30 years, these cars would be the reigning equivalent of the likes of Skyline Hakosukas or Toyota 2000GT from the 60s & 70s today. Which is why each and every car in this garage were chosen and imported directly from Japan in its best form and condition. For example, his 29 year old R32 GTR only has 22,000 KM on the odometer, and cars like the RX7 Spirit R is the rarest and most perfect iteration of the Rotary powered Mazda from factory. You won’t be able to get the most perfect, low mileage example of these cars again in the future, and the Ageing Chamber was designed to store these cars perfectly for that purpose.
Keeping the JDMs alive!
In Malaysia, whilst we have a relatively large cult of JDM enthusiasts and owners, many of you would notice that sadly, only a handful are still kept alive and in an almost loved condition. The bulk that we see during drives, car meets, and events are the ones that are loved and cared for. But have you seen the abandoned ones? Do you know that we have more of these cars around, yet they’re all just left unspoken for? It pains me to say that I have came across many, and it burns a hole in the heart every time.
Cars are meant to be driven. They’re meant to be cared and loved for. There is an emotional state of lost when the relationship between man and machine unties, be it on an unfinished project, blown mechanicals, or just financial restraint to keep these cars alive. The ownership experience brings everything to another level, because cars like these have souls. You connect and bond with them on the open road, and it is that intimacy that brings us all to fall in love with cars and driving all over again.
I’ve driven many cars in my time, and I thank the stars for all the opportunity that has befallen to myself in getting to experience cars in this life. But dare I say that this trip has given me a whole new perspective on cars. If you were to compare them on paper, these cars are far from the quickest, maddest, or craziest machines out there today. They’re just shy from some of the slower sports cars you could buy in this current decade. However, being on the wheel of say, this RX7 Spirit R opens up a new form of love on car enthusiasts. I can tell you, that the 13B in this form is slow, it is uneconomical, and completely empty on the inside to drive. Yet between the revs, and upshifts on gears, you get to listen to the Rotary whine, the go-kart like feel from the small and lightweight chassis, and pop-up headlights on the bonnet as the sun goes down, elevates a whole new romance in cars.
And the R34 V-Spec II Nür with its N1 spec RB26? You have to be completely mental to despise the Skyline. There’s just a whiff of old school from the RB26 that you just really can’t get from newer cars anymore. The throttle feels tight, making it hard for you to rev match or heel and toe even on normal speeds, and the boost definitely takes a while to spool up. But the moment you hit 4000rpm, everything comes alive together and before you know it, you’re already doing 200km/h before changing into 4th gear. Its like an orchestra or a live show, because even if you could watch your favourite band on Youtube, the experience is just on another level when you’re right there in front. I know, the R34 definitely has to be anyones favourite here…
… but if I had to pick ONE favourite from all the 6 JDMs in the garage and bring home – I’d pick the NSX Type-S over any of them, any day of the week! No other car here gives the purest driving experience like the NSX could. The way the steering reacts, the way the engine revs up, and just how light the car is, puts this car on another level in my opinion. When Honda developed the NSX, it was designed to go up against the likes of Ferraris and Porsches of the time. They weren’t busy messing about, trying to get their cars to be faster with electronics like how other brands were. They instilled the Senna connection in its development, and through his input, made the car 50% stiffer. And because it had zero assistance, every moment driving the NSX just puts you continuously on edge and alive.
This is one definitely not for everyone. You sit very low on the ground, hunkered into the Recaro buckets and fight over getting in and out of the car. You can’t park the car anywhere you’d like, because it is difficult to turn (no power steering) and its hard to get in and out off. Yet, despite the fact that it has been over a month now since we went to Kedah to shoot this garage, I still have dreams on the NSX Type-S every other night. It is far from the quickest car out there today, but it is the most unadulterated driving experience you could possibly get from a car.
Uncovering the “Ageing Chamber” has definitely set a new bar for all of us at NoEqual. We live for cars and contents like this, and we feel this would be very hard to surpass in a while. But nothing is impossible, and we hope that with stories from owners like Tony and his garage, it would inspire others to bring more of these cars to life on our shores in the near future!
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