From broken spoilers to utter disrespect - How ugly Malaysian kids tainted Retro Havoc 2023
CY Foong · May 29, 2023 05:15 PM
The 8th Retro Havoc (RH) certainly lived up to one half of its name with the 2023 version being the biggest and craziest ever organised.
Held for just one day on 27-May 2023, the car show that prides itself with a gathering of some of the best and most unique cars that are at least 20 years old saw 1,000 cars from Singapore, Thailand, and all corners of Malaysia converge into the second basement car park level of The Curve in Mutiara Damansara.
Having attended my first RH back in 2019 when it was held in Subang Jaya, I was looking forward to the event each year. Then again, this is an unmissable event if you’re a Malaysian car enthusiast as it is a chance to see all kinds of rare and interesting classic cars.
Highlights from the previous RH meets include a Toyota Sports 800 and a Toyota Century but aside from the cars, RH is also a good place to make new friends and talk to owners of their beautiful rides. I got to meet the owners of the Century and the Mitsubishi Pajero Mini from previous RH shows and most of these owners are willing to share stories on how they came across their dream wheels.
But from what I observed, this year’s Retro Havoc is a case of quantity over quality. While it is amazing to see the entire parking lot filled up with amazing rides ranging from century-old classics to very valuable wheels, the cars on display are mostly filled with very recent models instead one that you might call retro.
Perhaps some of the models on display are worthy to be showcased at Malaysia’s premiere car show promoting the best from the past but it is lacking in some retro cars. That might be due to preferences as I have attended multiple car meets around the city and for some, this could be their first time attending such an event.
Around 70,000 people turned up for that one day and due to the high traffic, it was quite chaotic to get into the event even if you bought the RM 10 entry wristbands a few days earlier.
This isn’t the first time RH has held an event at The Curve. Last year, it held two iterations at the mall’s parking lot with the first being held around Chinese New Year and the other around the middle of the year. The Encore edition as the latter version was called was the first time since 2019 that saw cars from our 2 neighbouring countries participating.
With international borders just opening up, the Encore edition was an immense success and it was the right remedy after 2 years of being holed up at home no thanks to a pesky little virus that was sweeping the globe.
But from my personal experience, this year was definitely the most chaotic of all. Those 70,000 visitors might be proof that car culture in Malaysia is alive and perhaps even going strong but as with many large events, a few bad apples stood out and the name Retro Havoc is gaining traction on social media for the wrong reasons.
Loud doesn’t mean proud
The cars that usually attend these car meets are visually striking and RH literally has a colourful bunch. From the pink colour Nissan Fairlady Z called Pinko which made its debut at the event to a Cadillac lowrider that seemingly bounced its way into the parking bay, there is excitement in the air but visual excitements don’t bring a cause of celebration among most of the visitors.
Instead, what drew a lot of the visitors over is the more mainstream sports cars. Overrated models like the A80 Supra, the R34 and R33 Skylines as well as the modified varieties of regular cars drew the biggest attention.
There was even a classic and extremely valuable Hakosuka GT-R on display at the show but if it didn’t pop and bang, no one will even bat much of an eye. And therein lies the problem with many of the visitors that show up at a car meet, if it doesn’t make a loud noise, no one is going to even bother.
Throughout the day, the whole event seemed well-behaved but as with previous versions of RH, the madness descended towards to the end of the event. Admittedly I wasn’t at RH at night having left around the evening but the calls for madness slowly began just when I was leaving.
One car started revving in the distance and then the other and yet another one. The pops, bangs, and braps sounded like gunfire as the noise began bouncing off the walls and each time an exhaust boomed, a large crowd began forming. Heads started to turn, shouts rang around, and all the oohs and ahhs acted as an indicator to follow where the sound is emanating from.
Like moths to a flame, a large crowd began circling the source of the noise and as if fuelled by the raucous crowds, the cacophony of loud exhaust noise spread all over the parking lot. With the crowd clamouring around, one of the rules of the event went largely ignored – touching the cars is not allowed.
Oily fingers and hands began smudging the meticulous paintwork of some of the cars, people start to bump around the crowded parking lot and some scratches were made to the cars’ bodywork. Amidst the whole chaos, some itchy hands broke off pieces of the car as if to “claim” some prize. It went from a normal gathering to complete chaos as the noise pollution echoed across the car park.
What’s embarrassing was that this is an international event with valuable classics from Singapore and Thailand participating along with a few guests from Japan, the UK, and Indonesia. It gives off a bad impression of how misbehaved Malaysians are and surely we don't want to project that kind of hospitality.
But the blame can’t and mustn’t be placed on the organisers themselves. The uncouth nature of the visitors runs deeper as in many car shows and gatherings in Malaysia, the issue of loud noises and misbehaving visitors is sadly a persistent issue.
The loud noise disturbs public peace even if some might find the pops and bangs to be exciting. Burnouts and drifts in a controlled environment look cool but in an underground space with little ventilation, it’s a choking hazard.
In many car events outside of Malaysia, the participants and visitors would be well-behaved as even the smallest cause of disturbance can affect future events. Take the weekend car meets at Daikoku PA in Japan for instance as an example of good behaviour among drivers and visitors.
As a car enthusiast, I enjoy attending these car meets no matter how big or small the gathering is. It’s such a shame that the bad behaviour shown by some of the visitors at last weekend’s RH is affecting more people from wanting to check out or even bringing out some rarely-seen classics in the future. Respect is rightfully needed and deserved for any future car meets in Malaysia.