Yes, it's RWB again and I can't get enough of it! You've seen the one-of-a-kind Victoria from Philippines previously, but what about the ones in Thailand? Autohaus RWB was responsible for bringing the first RWB out of Japan and now, they already have 12 RWBs built. Sounds like an RWB fever over there.
Having had the chance to visit Bangkok earlier this month, I spent some of my time at Autohaus to check out the birthplace of Thailand's RWB, and I'd like to share experience with everyone here.
Autohaus RWB had always been the top of my must-visit places in Thailand. In fact, it took quite a while (about 9 months) for me to actualise my visit. During the '5th Bangkok Imported & Used Car Show' last year, I was there but sadly, Autohaus was closed. When I confirmed my flight to Bangkok beginning this year, serious political protests and demonstrations broke out; causing a halt to my plans. @@"
Luck was with me this time in April. Everything was fine there, Bangkok Motor Show '14 coincided with the dates of my stay, Autohaus RWB was open after confirming with them and...
... voila! There I was, looking at the truly modern design and stylish architecture of Autohaus RWB building. The place was designed by VaSLab Architecture which shares in with RWB's vision of creating a car that is one of a kind for each customer. This place was no ordinary workshop; I'd say it was more like a showroom, or a private garage and you'd be sure that you'll find awesome cars here; Yes, RWBs!!
I walked straight ahead and found the comfy air-conditioned lounge area with Amy, the lady of Autohaus RWB already sitting at reception awaiting my arrival. Since Chinawat Kanitpong, the owner of this workshop was not around, Amy became my guide for the day. :)
Weekends are usually less crowded with customers, therefore it was an excellent time for me that day to explore the wonders of Autohaus RWB! The first building on the left you saw previously, consists of a showroom that houses two cars. They were both Porsches; parked in a space-efficient manner. The top one was an RWB - #002 RWB Thailand and ...
... a 930 Carrera Targa below which belongs to Mr A from @Speed Garage and also a friend of Chin. This car has yet to undergo RWB conversion and will never do, as Mr A is looking for a new owner for this well-preserved Targa.
My excitement for RWB came rushing through me; I climbed the stairs to the upper deck hoping to have a better look at #002 RWB, and found Chin's amazingly clean and well-furnished office, surrounded with tall slanted window glass.
You'd immediately identify a car maniac when he/she owns a racing simulator setup like this. Chin had his Logitech G27 hooked up to his PS3 and even replaced the original wheel with a bigger diameter OMP Rally steering wheel for more precision driving in the virtual racing world.
He's Akira Nakai, the man who founded Rauh-Welt Begriff (RWB) and well-known for his radical creation on Porsches which lately put his name and brand to the top. Many think that all his cars looked the same, but they are actually different and unique to each of his customers. He's a great person, passionate about his work and careless about money. That is what RWB owners said about him, which made me keen to meet him.
What about having this remarkable view outside of your office window daily? Cool right! More on the famous #002 RWB Thai later.
From Chin's office, he could also look over and monitor the activities in the working workshop area.
That's a pristine classic 912 Porsche at the top and a covered 997 Porsche under it. Autohaus RWB also provide services to MINI and BMW customers, but coincidentally that day the cars present were all Stuttgart beauty.
A while later, a very familiar engine sound was heard approaching from the gate entrance. It was indeed a Porsche; better yet, a modest RWB Targa I recognised from this particular Youtube video posted online.
I descended the stairs nimbly, and found not one, but two more of Nakai's work of art parked gracefully next to each other. Were they the same? Let's find out.
This is the newest addition to the RWB family and the 12th RWB in Thailand. According to Amy (who was still around with me), it belongs to same owner who drives this familiar green 964 RWB, nicknamed 'Korn Brownhouses'.
The name of this pretty RWB is simply '57'. It was the first time I noticed a number being used as a name on RWB. I am always very interested in the catchy names given personally by Nakai-san himself to each of his customers' build. To clear your curiosity on the name, #57 signifies the birthyear of the owner's son in Buddhist calendar.
Names give identity to your car, and Nakai-san is a genius in doing that. Let me give you some examples of some cool RWB names available world wide: Stella Artois (Nakai's 1st love), Yves Piaget, Diablo Nero, Royal Ocean, Mujer Madura, Rough Unity, Garuda, Hooters and many more.
This RWB is an original automatic transmission. Some rather have the manual, but auto is not a bad thing at all. It's practical for the daily drive around the busy streets of Bangkok, reducing the use of left foot on the clutch. No fancy bucket seats or roll cage inside, simply owner's preference of choosing MOMO steering wheel and aluminium gear knob.
My favourite part of the interior is the eye-catching bright green cosmetic work done on the RWB tachometer. It seems like it is a common practice for Autohaus RWB to use the same matching colours from the brake caliper and car body on the tachometer. Creative.
During my visit, the car was yet to be completed, as it was waiting for new Aragosta suspension, the best shock absorbers to choose from for RWB converted 964. With Aragosta, the perfect ride height could be achieved, with just millimeters clearance between the Michelin wrapped Brombacher Work wheels and extended fender.
The lady of Autohaus RWB, Miss Amy who gave me a tour around the workshop. A picture of her taking a break during the less busy weekend.
I met up with Mr Richard, the humble owner of this Slate Gray coloured Porsche and he shared plenty of interesting RWB stories including his RWB Targa and his experience with Nakai-san. This Targa is the 3rd RWB Thailand and the first Targa model in the world to receive an RWB treatment.
Why did Richard decide to own one? When he was with Chin to meet Akira Nakai in Japan for a discussion on bringing over the veiled tuning culture over to Thailand, Richard saw for himself how passionate and devoted Nakai-san was (and still is) on building RWBs for his customers. Richard fell in love with his flawless work and was 100% convinced to have his one build after Chin's.
Richard started looking around and found a used 964 with a 993 3.6L engine in it. It took a while to get the engine to good condition, body repainted, before reaching the hands of Nakai-san for final RWB makeover.
No fancy names were given, Nakai-san simply calls it 'Targa'. Although it didn't have any wings at the back, Richard likes the way it is and appreciates the simple and practical design Nakai-san build. Among the other cars he has in his garage, he likes the Targa most because it's lightweight, agile and unquestionably a fun car to drive.
The Targa's interior is another example of a clean interior. Loved the Nardi Deep Corn wheel with Black Suede leather and red stitching. Notice the light gray tachometer, that's a touch of Autohaus RWB. :)
Richard (Right) and Mr A (Left), both RWB owners hanging out at the workshop.
Drawing from their experience in driving 900km to the Northern region of Thailand, most RWB owners agree that earlier air-cooled Porsches not only sound better than modern day water-cooled Porsches - they also perform better and are more reliable. The only drawback is a slight reduction in overall power output.
This classic Porsche 912 is undergoing some restoration work. This beauty looks almost complete but actually, the engine had been removed for a proper engine rebuild by none other than...
... Mr Aey, the Head Mechanic of Autohaus RWB. Apart from being skillful and talented in his field of work, he's also a responsible person and committed to finding the best viable solution to each problem. According to Richard, it took less than 2 years for Aey to learn engine rebuilding for Porsches, from watching Youtube videos. Now, he's a master of it.
We can learn from Aey that 'Being determined and passionate in whatever you do will lead you to your desired goals'. :)
Here is Mr Aey's playground, a much busier workshop with loads of engine parts, tools and equipments lying tidily around the place. The wow thing about Autohaus RWB is that, it takes only 2 mechanics to work with all the customers' car problems, from servicing, repairs to engine rebuilds and restoration - maintaining a high level of work quality.
Back at the front showroom, #002 RWB Thailand was brought down for me to admire. I was looking forward to meet the first RWB Thailand, a white 993 dubbed the 'Rough Evolution' but unfortunately, it was away. Here's the 2nd one, a 964 and they both belong to Autohaus owner Mr Chin.
#002 RWB Thailand is real unique and one-of-a-kind to the RWB family. Unlike other RWBs where they had their wide extended fender riveted onto the body, Nakai-san went for a different approach and experimented with his innovative idea by adhering the fenders to the body using glue.
It was a long process which involved adhering, applying plaster coating and finally sanding for a smooth finish (see this example). As a result, it eliminated the use of rivets and it felt like it was built in one piece with the car. With this experience, Nakai-san can prepare to build more for future RWBs in countries like Malaysia and Singapore where they have stricter rules [no exposed rivets/extensions].
Mr Aey's best of work on display. This 3.6L flat-6 engine had been rebuilt to an excellent condition and fitted with some aftermarket performance parts which focuses on better engine efficiency in ignition and control: Electromotive TEC-3r ECU, Electromotive Direct Coils Pack, PMO Carburetion Kits, M&M headers/muffler.
The interior setup in this RWB was great! Not too empty nor extreme, but just the right amount of character which is appropriate and enjoyable for both track and normal driving. The MOMO Porsche steering wheel, Rennline steel pedals and track mats, reminded me of RWB Akira's cockpit, however, Autohaus added the signature customised tachometer with matching red brake calipers of #002 RWB.
It wears a huge rear wing taken directly from Porsche 993 GT2 and finished with Nakai-san's esteemed brand decal. The unfamiliar word 'Sekund Entwicklung' below the RWB text means 'Second Development' in German, which marks the second evolution of his RWB creation. Recently, he had updated to 'Zweite Entwicklung', the third edition.
I believe RWB culture will continue to grow and spread world wide like mushrooms; China just got its first RWB, Sopranos and very soon, it'll reach our Malaysian shores too in the form of two RWBs, a 993 and 964 made for the same owner. Let's wait and see how he'll impress the world with his final completion.
Autohaus RWB was undoubtedly a fun place to be for any car enthusiasts or RWB fans. The place is awesome, the people are great, and I enjoyed myself admiring the place and of course, the cars here. I'd like to thank Chinawat Kanitpong, Richard, Mr A, Amy and the rest of the Autohaus crew for their kindness and hospitality.
Drop by Autohaus RWB if you visit Bangkok and who knows, you might be lucky enough to see some more Rauh-Welt beauties there.
My journey with cars in Bangkok didn't end there. One more infamous RWB to admire, that is Mr A's 993 RWB! Next stop, Mr A's private classic car collection at @Speed Garage. Till then, enjoy the gallery below! :)
Thank you Autohaus RWB!