TransSport 2014 Part One

Now on its 23rd year, the TransSport Show (TSS) lays claim to being the longest continuous-running auto show in the Philippines. Unlike MIAS, TSS has always been more about the clubs, aftermarket and special interest groups than the manufacturers, and this year’s show is no different. You could probably say that TSS is the Philippine equivalent of SEMA, which is the largest aftermarket and specialty shop show in, basically, the world.

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Smurf blue is apparently the colour of this year’s TSS.

I have been a sort-of regular attendee to the TSS since I was in grade school, and back then the Megatrade Halls of SM Megamall housed the show. My dad almost lost his license when we went one time because the Isuzu pick-up we were using was hit by the coding scheme that day. Today the TSS is housed in halls of SMX, beside the SM Mall of Asia complex. A separate building with its own basement parking, going to the TSS is now a far more pleasant affair than it was all those years ago, and if the entrance display was anything to go by, the quality should be about the same.

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The Padi’s Point E90 3-Series convertible was a little alone by one of the exit doors, but I thought it was a good fit for the establishment. The E90 convertible is a car that projects the kind of “serious during the week and seriously fun during the weekend” lifestyle that Padi’s Point embraces. No other car pulls off this image quite as well as a white BMW 3-Series convertible.

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This is the sight that greets you after you hand over your tickets. Phoenix seems to be one of the chief sponsors of the show, what with banners for the Premium 98 gasoline hung up all over the venue and their logo pasted on the smaller spaces.

While the TSS has few manufacturers around, the clubs, tuners and special interest groups take centre stage here.

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While we’ve seen the collections of the Die Cast Collectors of the Philippines before, some of these cars weren’t present during that time, like these Porsches, with a sprinkling of Ferraris on the top shelf for taste.

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A few more Porsche die-casts, topped by some pretty special versions.

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In particular this RAUH-Welt Begriff (RWB) 911 die-cast. Modelled after “Victoria” (each RWB 911 is given a name by Nakai-San, who personally creates each one), I’m quite sure this die-cast is a custom creation and perfectly captures the mad bodywork that is the trademark of each RWB 911. The real Victoria is the first RWB 911 in the Philippines, and packs a LSX V8 from GM instead of the usual Porsche flat-6.

Die-cast models are a low-cost way to get into the car collecting hobby, but if you plan on being a serious die-cast collector, you had better prepare a pretty serious chunk of change. Sure, die-cast cars are much cheaper than actual cars and cost far less to maintain, but serious collectors will still have a shocking amount of money invested into their collection. Passions of any sort aren’t cheap people, and if they seem so it’s usually a relative matter.

Later on we’ll have another very interesting group of model-car enthusiasts, but for now we move onto the full-size cars.

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This is a familiar badge, only this time in much better condition.

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The MG Owners Club Manila brought out three MGB convertibles for people to ogle. Two were from the era before 5-mph bumper regulations, and one represented the “rubber bumper” Bs.

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This light blue example looks like it just motored out of a 60’s British magazine ad. A muted shade of blue, wire wheels, an open top and a classic British badge on the grille; I could smell the tea, taste the crumpets and hear “God Save the Queen” in the background.

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The lack of US-regulation equipment really does the B’s looks a big favour. The fender is unmarred by side repeaters, and the small chrome bumper overriders show just how handsome the B really is.

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The wire wheels just add to the B’s Englishness. While these are a nightmare to wash properly, the wires apparently let the wheels buckle just a tad, adding a little more compliance to the car’s ride. Before the advent of wheel lugs, wheels were attached to the car with winged knock-0ffs, so named because they were tightened or loosened with a few good knocks from a rubber mallet.While lugs are probably a little easier to work with, I reckon the act of whacking a wheel loose is much more satisfying from an anger-management perspective.

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The small chrome cap is the fuel filler, and beneath it you can see the residue left by small leaks from the pump. I for one like such things; they tell me that this car gets driven regularly, and that whoever owns it isn’t such a detail-obsessed person bent on an unrealistically perfect car.

The proportions and angle might fool you, but this is a small car. Not as tiny as an original Mini, but small enough that you could probably hide in a Montero’s rear blind spot. Seats for two and a weekend’s worth of luggage only, please.

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Aside from the lack of additions to “federalise” the car (make it legal for US sale), the interior shows off the early MGB dash layout. Here you have no provision for air vents, so owners looking for some additional ventilation had to fit an aftermarket hanging unit. The banjo wheel is a beautiful period piece, and the white piping just finishes the period look. Wood veneer might be absent, but this interior has just enough brightwork to make up for it. In this age, where even the Miata can be ordered with a power-folding hardtop, such barrenness seems hardly believable, but that’s the way things were back then. The open top was all the comfort you needed on those five days when the sun’s heat manages to penetrate the grey British skies.

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The next B is this fetching red example, from the same series of pre-federalised Bs that the blue one came from.

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The mesh over the headlamps was a utilitarian addition back in the day for those owners who drove on hard-packed dirt roads. These protected the glass from small rocks that might have been kicked up by other vehicles, and keep large pieces of tire-ruining glass from falling to the road should the lamps shatter. Racing and rally cars were also fitted with these, for the same reason; gaffer tape was an easier and less-permanent alternative, but these meshes add a certain style to whatever vintage car they’re fitted on. These would be supremely unfashionable on new cars, mainly because plastic lenses can’t ruin tires quite like glass can.

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While this red seems a bit more fitting for the classic B’s character, I can’t quite decide whether I like this or the light blue shade better. This is much harder to lose in traffic though, so I’m ever so slightly leaning in the direction of the blue car.

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No, this is not a different car. This is still a B convertible, but this time one of the “rubber-bumper” Bs, so named because of the black plastic covers MG fitted to hide the 5-mph battering rams required by 1975 US bumper regulations.

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Fitting the 5-mph bumpers was more than the fitment of some new metal. The front and rear fenders were modified to accept the steel bumpers and plastic covers. At the front, the support for the new bumpers meant the front fenders and valences had to be cut into, and at the back, the bodywork under the lamp was flattened to make space for the black plastic covers. The front frame rails were also extended to accommodate the new bumpers, so converting back to the chrome bumpers and grille means filling in the gaps in the bodywork and cutting the front frame rails back to let the grille sit flush. It’s all a matter of taste; while I do prefer the chrome bumpers and grille, I can understand that the rubber-bumper look has its own appeal.

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This is the same dashboard as the one in the project MGB we found, and is the result of needing to include padding and air vents, for the safety and comfort of the passengers.

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I know these wheels made their first appearance on Triumph’s Stag, but I didn’t know these were made for MGs as well. Then again, this should be expected, as by this time basically all British cars were being made under the British Leyland umbrella, much like GM or Ford.

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The colour of each B matches its character perfectly, the early cars with their bright colour, and the rubber-bumper B with its thoroughly modern black shade. Interestingly, if you go back to the project MGB we found earlier, you’ll have seen the evolution of the B as it kept up with time and regulations over the two decades of its production, from the classic chrome to the plastic-covered final run. I’d love to see a B-GT though, as I find them impossibly well-proportioned.

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Now we move on to a more familiar platform, and a series of inspirations for me. This is an EG sedan, done up in a very tasteful manner. No gaudy bodykits here, just a miles-deep shade of blue and some choice parts. I like how the additional gauges are mounted in a row on the top of the dash instead of the typical A-pillar cluster; they tell the world that the owner values style as much as functionality. The carbon fibre – genuine – bonnet was closed when we shot it, but bets are there’s a tuned B16 under there.

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The hatch beside it was done up in much the same style, even employing the same colour combination of a blue body and grey mouldings. This one has the Gathers seats with the distinctive “floating” headrests, and another set of gauges arranged in a row on the dash.

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Them’s the goods.

The hatch’s bonnet was wide open to show the world the wicked B16 under it. The B-series DOHC VTEC engine is the go-to engine for Asian Honda tuners, while those looking for more torque usually go for the K-series DOHC VTEC engines. Here in the Philippines, the B16 is the usual suspect, and yields a lot of power while fitting very easily into the EG engine bay.

In case you were wondering, yes, the bonnet is a bit crooked. I reckon this is because of the hood strut being on just one side. Now I’m not entirely sure, but this probably isn’t doing the carbon fibre any favours. Still, this isn’t a critical structural member of the car, so a bit of flex is probably fine.

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Obviously, this B16 is putting out more than the 160 horsepower the factory rated it at. Torque has never been a strong point of these motors, but who needs torque when your redline starts at 8,000 and your engine sounds like a small F1 motor?

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Beside the blue hatch is this grey EG. The flat grey shade looks like the same shade that Audi used for their first-generation TT, and looks quite good on the EG’s understated lines.

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While this is the most discreet of the three – not even a carbon fibre bonnet to be found – the secret is in the details. Like this beautiful strut tower brace, with three links that tie the tops of the strut towers to the firewall. Strut tower braces bridge the gap between the two front struts, stiffening the front structure, which keeps more rubber on the road during hard cornering.

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I really like how the head is colour-coded to the rest of the car, and the intake is a bit more thoughtful than in the blue hatch. The silver pipe you see going off down the left of the picture snakes down to the bumper…

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Subtle.

…and terminates in this hole where the passenger-side foglamp usually is. Subtle and effective, I like it.

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Next to the grey Civic is a whole other world of performance. If you’re a fan of “King of Cool” Steve McQueen, you know where this car takes its lead.

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Now that’s attitude.

In his 1968 movie “Bullit” McQueen plays a hardball San Francisco cop looking to bust the crime lord who snuffed the witness under his protection. The movie itself is a bit boring if you’re used to modern cop dramas, but the jewel of the movie is the chase scene between the baddies in their 1968 Dodge Charger 440 and McQueen in his highland green 1968 Mustang 390 GT fastback.

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This fastback is a faithful replica of the “Bullit” Mustang, right down to the Torq-Thrusts. In reality, the Charger, with its more powerful engine, would leave the Mustang eating dust, so Ford had to modify the 390 fastbacks for the movie. If you watch the scene, the sound you’re hearing from McQueen’s Mustang is reportedly the sound of a GT-40 at full chat, synced up to the action.

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In my opinion, the 1968 Mustang has the best rear end out of the early Mustangs, with the chrome trim melting around the curves of the rear end.

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Takes a lot of work to keep this horse pretty.

Behind the highland green fastback, we have this Mach 1 Mustang. This is from the first two years of Mach 1 production, 1969 to 1970; a new body was introduced for 1971.

Ready to swallow you and your family.

Ready to swallow you and your family.

Replacing the “GT” trim level, the Mach 1 added a slew of performance and cosmetic modifications alongside the potent arsenal of performance V8s you could order. You could have the usual 351C for good performance, or you could slowly pay for your tire guy’s college fund by ordering the 428CJ.

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Aside from the performance enhancements, the cosmetic modifications included the stripes, matte-black hood with pins, spoiler and those rear-window louvers. The Mach 1 option was only available on the fastback, which was by then renamed “Sportsroof”.

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These Magnum 500 wheels are where the British Rostyles take their lead from. It’s practically impossible to find a muscle car the Magnum 500 doesn’t look right on. I think the colour combination on this Mach 1 is the perfect blend of sporty and classy, with the flat black accents adding just the right amount of menace.

We’ll end the first part of our TransSport Show coverage here, but up next we’ll have some Japanese tuners, some classic Euro iron, a homegrown sports car and a hulking fortress on wheels.

-Words by Kristoff, pictures by Eugene.

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