Not many people realize the true breadth and depth of Malaysia’s automotive heritage, and this sheer variety could clearly be seen just this past Tuesday on the eve of Malaysia’s Merdeka celebrations. The Merdeka Classic Car Cruise-In and Retro Evening was organized by the Bulldog English Pub and Restaurant in Sri Hartamas to celebrate Malaysia’s rich automotive heritage in line with her 59th year of independence, and saw the appearance of several characterful classic automobiles.
This included several participants from the highly esteemed Asia Klasika Motor Festival. Kicking things off was this beautiful 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider, its beautiful Pininfarina bodywork fully demonstrating why these Giulia Spiders are still widely regarded as some of the most gorgeously sexy Italian sports cars ever made.
Taking pride of place beside the Giulia Spider, the 1972 Panther J72 was a fine flag bearer for vintage British sports touring cars. A regular sighting at many Malaysian classic car shows and rally drives alike, it marries Jaguar mechanicals with that luxurious vintage roadster body styled by Robert Jankel and executed by Connolly Carriage. In spite of its rarity with only 368 J72s ever produced, its passionate owner ensures that this example remains in fine running condition with regular exercise and spirited drives.
America’s great classic automotive style was embodied by this 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air (Elvis himself would no doubt approve of this one), and especially this 1969 Chevrolet Impala Fastback Hot Wheels Edition customized by Mayer Carz & Restorations. They were 2 of the event’s biggest hits without a doubt, as many folks who turned up simply couldn’t take their eyes off them.
It was presented in flawless condition after having gone through a meticulous 2 year restoration, which also saw it receiving several modern refinements including an electronic ignition system with push start button, and fully digital dashboard instrumentation. Churning out 242 Bhp (245 PS) and 310 Ib-ft (420 Nm) of torque at a relaxed 4,400 rpm, its 5.7 liter V8 is perfectly tuned for chilled long distance drives in comfort.
The evening would not have been complete without the Bulldog’s warm and homely buffet, serving up a mix of signature Malaysian favorites including chicken curry and traditional British pub grub. The shepherd’s pie was a particular highlight; kudos to the chef for pulling that one off with great results. Fueled by the delicious food and cold beers, rich petrolhead conversations carried on well into the night; and it was definitely a successful evening for classic motoring enthusiasts to savor.