What’s the Thai modifying scene all about? Ladies and gentlemen, you’re looking at it…
When somebody mentions Thailand, what’s the first thing you think of? Extravagant cocktails on sandy beaches? Leonardo DiCaprio frolicking in blue lagoons? Fat elderly Americans wolfing down sticky rice while watching ladies do tricks with ping-pong balls? For us, the first place our mind goes to is the car scene.
That’s right – behind the veneer of island-hopping and watersports and world-class cuisine at poverty-line prices, there’s a vibrant modifying culture in that Southeast Asian paradise. Its roots are just the same as in the UK – young guys and girls meeting up after dark at drive-thrus and on seafronts, the odd bit of mischievous driving (but not racing, officer, definitely not), and that perennial keenness to make the cars cooler, faster, louder, different to all the others.
In Thailand, the main focus is on Japanese rides – Civics, Skylines and S-body Nissans are particular favourites, along with oodles of Integras, RX-7s, Evos and Imprezas. There’s a massive drag racing scene, with illegal street drags drawing in huge crowds, and diesel tuning is a big deal too.
When it comes to street cars, Thai tuners really love to put carbon fibre all over everything, there’s a certain fondness for VIP builds, but the overarching headline story right now is widebody extensions. Thailand has a keen eye on the fashions of the rest of the world, drawing influence from the likes of Rocket Bunny and Liberty Walk, as well as RWB Porsches, Stateside SEMA trends, the Clinched range from Russia – bigger is better, that’s the key, and Thailand loves to make its own versions that often don’t get a lot of exposure elsewhere in the world. It’s like a microcosm of modifying that borrows ideas from across the globe, stirs them together into its own melting pot, then creates unique and exciting things that the rest of us would never expect to see.
That’s why we’re bringing you this Fiesta: it neatly showcases the archetypal Thai modifying style of 2018, while throwing in a few curveballs to boot. You see, if there’s one thing you can expect from this colourful scene, it’s the unexpected. Yes, Thai folks love Japanese cars, but this is a Ford Fiesta. Why take a European-built hatchback and throw their own style at it? Well, why not?
It’s worth pointing out, of course, that this isn’t actually a European-built hatchback at all. Ford have a manufacturing plant in Thailand, where they churn out huge numbers of Fiestas for the domestic market, and their spec is a bit different to what you’d find in the Eurozone. There’s no ST model over there; instead, the top-of-the-range variant is the Sport you see here, which comes with a 1.6-litre Ti-VCT motor and a dual-clutch 6-speed Powershift transmission.
Bizarrely, Thai Fiestas have a 100mm PCD instead of the 108mm of global versions, the same as the Mazda2 – and the bodies also share various Mazda paint shades. But fundamentally, it’s a Fiesta as you would recognise it… at least, it was when it came out of the factory. But one or two things have changed since then.
The architect of all this madness is proud owner Paktakrit Bantip, the Bangkok resident who chose local tuner outfit Garage Unique to make it, well, unique.
They have form with this sort of thing – bespoke Garage Unique widebody kits have been making ripples across the internet when applied to cars like the second-gen Toyota MR2, BMW Z4, four-door Honda Civic saloon and E92 BMW, and their eye for an aggressive wide-arch design is matched by the quality of the execution. The kit you’re seeing here is the custom ‘Street Warrior’ design, and you’ve no doubt spotted that the base car is a five-door; you can get three-door Fiestas in Thailand, but this base makes more of a statement as it’s not always easy to go wide-arch when you have rear doors to grapple with. It either works or it totally doesn’t (the latter being the case more often than not), but Garage Unique have really nailed the look here.
The kit comprises the wide arches along with sideskirts and skirt extensions, front splitter, bumper inserts and wing vents, rear diffuser, and to all of this lunacy they’ve added their own custom design of rear spoiler. It’s just nuts, isn’t it? Have you ever seen a road-legal Fiesta so wide, or one running 10-inch wheels with 255-section tyres at the back?
Oh yes, and we’d definitely better talk about the wheels. Paktakrit had his sights set firmly on the Thai scene’s JDM influence here, craving the internet-breaking majesty of WORK Wheels, and a key advantage of this decision is that the wacky PCD didn’t really matter – WORKs are bespoke, crafted to your own specs, so they can be made to fit whatever you like. In this instance he’s gone for the celebrated Meister S1 design, 8.5×17-inch up front and 10×17 out back, which is a frankly mindblowing footprint for such a small car. The rubber is race-car aggressive too – Yokohama Advan A050s make a real statement about your street-racer intentions. Perfect for those warm Bangkok nights, with their sticky tarmac underneath amber skies full of Eastern promise.
Thai tuners love a brutal exhaust, and the laterally-exiting affair you see here was knocked up by Thokunart; it fuses the modern enthusiasm for rorty and extremely visible pipes on JDM builds with a certain early-2000s throwback to the UK scene. Remember when every Saxo had four 5” pipes poking out of the back? This is in the same ballpark. And in a further 2000s flashback, just check out Paktakrit’s interior.
The air install takes centre stage of course, as we’re seeing across the globe (and yes, obviously the Fiesta’s running a custom air-ride setup!), but the rest of the interior treatment is something that used to be everywhere but you really don’t see that much of these days: whacking great amps, huge subs, loads of high-end speakers, all artfully presented in custom enclosures.
Bride Stradia buckets and Takata harnesses bring it all back to the here-and-now, and the ultimate result is one of fusion. This is a car that draws in influences not just from modding trends around the globe, but also across the decades. And that’s Thai car culture in a nutshell – it’s a sort of greatest hits of worldwide ideas, spanning a broad timescale, and bringing it up to date with the country’s own unique style.
It’s not just about Pure Shores, pad thai and sex tourism, then: Thailand is about provocative, mould-breaking cars. So now you know.
TECH SPEC FORD FIESTA
Garage Unique Street Warrior widebody kit – including arches, skirts, skirt extensions, rear diffuser, front splitter, bumper inserts and wing vents, Garage Unique rear spoiler, custom taillights
1.6-litre Ti-VCT, custom Thokunart stainless exhaust system with transverse outlet, 6-speed dual-clutch Powershift
8.5×17” ET15 (front) and 10×17” ET15 (rear) WORK Meister S1 wheels, 225/40 (f) and 255/40 (r) Yokohama Advan A050 tyres, 25mm front and 35mm rear spacers, custom 4-valve air-ride system
Bride Stradia seats, Takata harnesses, 10” touchscreen media centre, Massive Audio pre-amp, 6x Eton Power Amps, 10x Focal speakers, 15” sub
“Garage Unique Thailand, Unwanted Team, and Serialone Photography.”
Words Dan Bevis Photos SerialOne