Bangkok, Thailand - Extravagant widebody styling is about as fashionable as it currently gets in the vibrant and always booming world of Thai automotive personalisation.
And if you want a bespoke design that's lavishly fashioned and designed to reflect your own personal tastes then there are few companies better placed to turn your dreams into reality in Bangkok these days than Garage Unique.
This company is right at the top of its game when it comes to widebody kits as they churn out cars that not only satisfy the customer’s own desires but grab the attention of cars enthusiasts here as well as the camera lenses of the specialist media. That, after all, is what the world of widebody styling is all about, making a statement and drawing looks.
The story of Garage Unique, which is located in the city’s North Eastern suburbs, is all about passion, dedication and hard work. Their expansive body shop is a hive of action and staff that are going about their tasks with dedication and a real eye to detail.
The driving force behind the steady rise of this company into a customising powerhouse is Mr Supakorn Wongklahan, or "Pol", as most Thais are best known by their nicknames.
His career started in a previous company that focused on styling upgrades for sedans and embraced the big styling fashion here of the time, known as ‘VIP Style’. “I started ‘Masterwork’, with my brother,” says Pol. “That was just for the sedan car, the Toyota Camry. In 2013 we started Garage Unique and we still start on the sedan car and after that we change to the wide body, first with the Toyota MR2.”
The company very quickly broadened away from its sedan core into taking on a diverse array of cars. When 9tro visited the body shop just before Christmas amongst the cars being crafted were offerings from Nissan, Mercedes, Subaru and Mitsubishi, while classics have now come under the spotlight as a striking Datsun 240Z is getting widebody treatment.
Wander around for a few minutes and you are hit by the fact that designing, developing and executing a high-quality bespoke wide body kit isn't anywhere as straightforward as it might sound. It's a big team effort with a lot of strands that pull together and plenty of people involved throughout the process, each a specialist in their own task. It's little wonder that they only turn out half a dozen projects a year and each one takes several months. Exclusivity is guaranteed with the Garage Unique stamp.
And exclusivity really is the right word. “If we customise cars one by one we only do four or five a year,” says Pol. “If we see a car that’s popular and design a kit that we can sell we sometimes make a mould and sell for others cars but not very often.”
If a customer has a car and wants to personalise it with a uniquely designed widebody kit – how does the process play out? “We explore what the customer likes,” says Pol. “We think about it, what design the customer wants, if the customer has an idea we will take the idea. He will talk to us and we all have to learn because widebody has a lot of styles, like a time attack style or rocket bunny style. We talk about it and we create it directly on the car.”
“We try to do something different,” he continues. It’s about creating aesthetic dreams.
Garage Unique has the ultimate seal of approval in terms of finished project execution as during the last edition of the Big Motor Sale, a glitzy annual motor show held at BITEC Bangna where all the volume OEMs in Thailand were represented, cars that Garage Unique had worked on appeared on the booths of two major brands here, Mitsubishi and Suzuki. With the sky-high standards of quality and finish car manufacturers demand of anyone to be associated with their badges, that really says it all about where Garage Unique now stands.
The Triton was a project realised with XO Autosport,” says Pol. “They cooperated with Mitsubishi Motorsport and they wanted me to make the widebody kit for the truck, it’s a project to show the truck around the country.”
For the Swift it was a case of adding their stamp to the car thanks to some unique tweaks and upgrades. “The customer bought the car and he had a picture from another country and he wants me to make like that,” explains Pol. “We changed some things on the rear fender and the side skirts are a bit different. Suzuki saw the finished car and they wanted to show it at the Big Motor Sale.”
It’s not just all about ‘JDM’ cars as Garage Unique has been a hit with the German brands too, in particular with BMW, having already created one-off designs for the Z4 sportscar as well as a swathe of sedans including the E46, E85, E89 and E90.
They’re also about to make a splash in the classic world with an exciting widebody project for the Datsun 240Z currently in process. There’s a Mitsubishi 3000 GT taking shape in the bodyshop too, a rare car here and one that’s even rarer to see clothed in personalised bodywork.
It's always good to take a look at what the owner drives before committing to a project – does he buy into the dream he’s selling? And here Pol ticks the boxes for his customers. His own Honda S2000 is an instantly recognisable feature of Bangkok’s pulsating car culture landscape with a striking kit that’s finished in an intricate Japanese-themed wrap that needs a good few seconds to fully absorb.
The styling upgrade suits the Japanese sportscar, giving its pretty lines a useful dash of aggression, all adding up to help it stand out from the pack, which, after all, is what any potential customers are going to be looking for.
Achieving a quality finish with any one-off design is very difficult to achieve so Garage Unique are focused on best workmanship, creating cars that are a little bit different. “We’re making step by step growth,” says Pol. “Widebody takes time, the money the customer spends looks like a lot but usually the project takes three or four months.” Expect to hear a lot more about this company in the future.