Shah Alam, Malaysia - Faroib Autosport is one of Malaysia’s leading companies focused on tuning, restoring and upgrading retro classic cars. Run by two brothers, Ismail and Idris bin Ibrahim, the pair have petrol coursing through their veins and are passionate about creating excellence, building and modifying cars that are works of love – and art.
Tucked quietly away on a light industrial estate in Shah Alam, around 50km west of Kuala Lumpur, they have developed their reputation through the cars they build for customers – and themselves.
Faroib Autosport was formed in 1992 although the brothers were tuning and modifying cars long before that. “We were speed freaks so we try to do everything that’s possible to do,” says Ismail of when they were teenagers. “Then we start [the company] with rallying and we prepared a rally car for one of our close friends.”
Rally activity grew and that turned into circuit racing. Soon both brothers were applying their engineering skills with leading regional ‘GT’ sportscar teams. That took up a lot of time and focus – until 2014. “Many workshops do new performance cars but there are a lot of enthusiasts who love JDM retro cars but don’t really know where to go,” says Ismail. “New mechanics don’t have ideas on older engines so we discuss about doing this and we agree and jump into this.”
With a thriving JDM retro scene in Malaysia it was quickly clear they were knocking at an open door. “The customer reaction was really good,” says Ismail. “They didn’t have a proper company that can really pay attention to exactly what they want as it’s difficult with retro cars, as for projects some parts need to be ordered, some parts need to be machined, some to be fabricated so not many people can do all that.”
They started to show cars and were quickly racking up the awards – particularly at Art of Speed last year where they walked away with the lion’s share of trophies. “We won a lot of awards at that event, I think it’s an achievement that the judges see and notice what we are doing,” he says. “It certainly raised our profile, some people look and say ‘who did these cars, who takes care of them’ and they are interested to send over their cars.”
That’s added a new stream of customers who want Faroib Autosport to build cars for shows – and so they’ve got busier. “There’s a queue, at the moment it’s several months before we can accept a car,” says Ismail.
It’s a broad mix of work too. “Some cars can take up to two years, some take two months, some customers come for performance engine builds, some for the ECUs, some for the suspension,” he says.
They build each JDM car to the owner’s specific requests, they’re in the business of realising dreams, tuning is always at the heart of the equation, they know every trick in the book – plus a more tricks they’ve invented – on exactly how to squeeze more power out of a retro JDM car while improving reliability, so it’s always going to be win-win. They create ground-up builds, customised to where the owner wants to go and all fused with their understanding of history.
It must be mentioned too that Faroib Autosport has two main thrusts. As well as JDM retro cars they have an equally big reputation in the world of Porsche, but for the sake of this story we have focused entirely on the Japanese cars.
As pure petrolheads they build cars for themselves too, with equal passion, and when 9tro visited Faroib Autosport there were a string of stunning machines littering the workshop. So, it was perfect to pick four of those out – three that belong to the brothers and one which was a customer’s machine – and take a good look behind the projects, after all, if you are looking for someone to create your dream car, there really is nothing better to address any concerns you might have than seeing what makes the people behind the company that you entrust to turn your ideas to reality really tick.
Datsun 1500 Pickup
“This car took about two and a half years to rebuild, we finished it a couple of years back,” recalls Ismail. “It had a full body full restoration, stripped back to bare metal, epoxy coated before painting, new rubbers and weather seals. New suspension bushes and we build our own fully adjustable struts for the car.”
For the engine, there was serious modifications,” he continues. “It came with the 1200cc [but] we changed that to the 1500cc and then we bore and stroke to something like 1604cc along with our special regrind for the camshaft and our own spec of doing the cylinder head modifications.”
“It has a programmable ECU to suit with the ITB ignition, 40mm throttle bodies and for the ignition coil we use a twin tower coil and delete the distributer,” he adds.
The striking red pickup now has a handy 140hp and its been shown Art of Speed, two years ago, as well as Olskool Mega Gathering and a few more localised events.
Datsun 260 Z
This car has quite a story beneath its familiar but perpetually striking ‘Z-car’ lines. “I think we acquired it back in 1990 when I was 19 and my brother was 18,” explains Ismail. “We got the car second-hand from one of the top police officers in KL.
“The car went through a lot of engine transplants,” he continues with a laugh. “One of the best engines back then was the RB26 with 600 horsepower. After that we decide to rebuild the car but then we made some changes with [the company] and we abandoned the car for quite some time.”
It vanished into the depth a friend’s garage, gently decaying over the next twenty years, out of sight and forgotten by its owners, so forgotten in fact that when the time came to revive it they didn’t at first even remember where the car was resting and had to track it down.
“Then in 2015 I decide to rebuild the car,” says Ismail. “We strip everything to bare metal, there’s a lot of rust on the body and most of the parts we make manually. We built the chassis, epoxy coated and painted it, fitted new weather strips and a new interior.
“We decide to go back the original engine, which is L26,” he continues. “But this time to L28 as we stroke it to 3.0 litre with our own stroker kit for the L26. We have a lot of customers we build their L28 with this stroker kit. It has triple 45mm throttle bodies with ITB, our own spec reground cam and own design stainless steel exhaust manifold which we build in house.
“For the transmission we mix and match with some new internals from the Skyline R32 GTS transmission which is more reliable than the stock transmission,” he says. “We do our own custom suspension, rose joints, bushes are changed to spherical bearings with chromoly tubular lower arms while for the dampers we use our own adjustable dampers.” In terms of the ECU it’s now a Motec M800 with individual ignition coils from a Ford V8.
So quite a package and quite a story. “We actually decide to join Art of Speed about 10 months before but due to our workload we have to slow down the process to almost neglecting it,” Ismail says. “Then two months before the event I think ‘we need to finish the car’ so we push to get it done.”
A rush to complete, but so far so good. “I only managed to start the car two days before the event and with a new build there’s always going to be some hiccups,” Ismail says.
“First the oil pump, which was brand new, but there was no oil pressure,” he continues. “Luckily, I have one in stock and put it in and it’s working well. The next day we finish up the small details but then the moment I drive it up to the truck the fuel pump fails. We have to get it done on the spot so we change the fuel pump and get everything finished the morning before the event, at about 4am.”
The rest is history and this 260 Z caused a big sensation when it rolled through Art of Speed, Ismail back behind the wheel after its two-decade hiatus. “The feeling when you rebuilt the car and you drive it into the hall and everyone is there taking photos and videos,” he says. “The feeling after the car has been lying for years, this really is a special moment.”
Datsun Skyline GT-R
This particular car, a beautiful GT-R replica built off a 2000 GT, belongs to one of Faroib Autosport’s customers, so is the odd one out in the group. But it’s striking condition after a two year rebuild process, its eye-catching bronze paint, and those eternally iconic ‘GT-R’ details, really make it one to turn heads.
“We rebuilt the car, everything, engine, suspension, brakes, ECUs,” says Ismail. “The Skyline and the Z have the same engine so most of the cars we work with have with the L 6-cylinder, the spec is the same and we bump up to 3 litres, add in cams, ECUs, 45 mm throttle body and ITB.”
Toyota Corolla KE30 Wagon
This is the newest member of the collection. “I didn’t really intend to buy the car,” Ismail says. “But a friend told me there was a nice 2 door wagon for sale so I think let’s have a look. It turned out the bodyshell was almost gone, it was totally wrecked with rust but since I was there I asked the owner but he wasn’t asking a reasonable price. So, I just took out some ridiculous numbers and he agreed so I felt like I had to buy it.”
That was in 2014 – so it’s been a 6-year restoration project. “I have much time to do the car as it was just for myself, so I sent the car to do the bodywork which took almost a year,” says Ismail. “And then almost a year to repaint as the guy who does the painting is one of my close friends so I say take your time I’m not in a hurry.
“Then leave the car in the workshop for three years,” he continues. “Until the last few months I tell my son you can take over the car as he’s away studying and he came back for a three months holiday. So, we take the car out of storage and he takes over the rebuild and I just guide what needs to be done.
“He did the interior, built the engine, transmission, the rose jointed front lower arm,” Ismail says.
“We decided we would take the car to Penang for Olskool Mega Gathering and we have two months to build but we finished it a week before the event.”
A perfectly finished car and the colour is an absolute stand out too. “Our own mix mint green,” says Idriss.
It really is a true retro car as especially for this restoration they decided to forgo the usual injection conversion. “This is the only project we build running on carbs,” Ismail says. “A few years ago we got a set of Mikunis which we still had on the shelf and we decided to put them on the car. We took a week to get the tuning right as some jets aren’t available so we have to machine the jets ourselves.”