Local Inspiration, Global Ambition

25 February 2016

Atara Racing fans the flames of retro car enthusiasm with inventive showcases and acclaimed self-designed wheels.

With almost 13,000 Instagram followers and twice as many Facebook fans, it is safe to say that Atara Racing has come a long way in just five years. The home-grown brand was born in 2010 when a couple of motorheads were frustrated by the lack of reasonably priced wheels to fit their retro cars. “At the time, our only options were imports that cost between RM8,000 to RM12,000 per set,” says co-founder Alie Kuoppa. “Atara Racing was founded to provide affordable wheels to retro car owners. Later on, the philosophy evolved from purely supplying a need, to representing Malaysia in the international industry.”

Designing its affordable and distinctive wheels turned out to be a stroke of genius. Within four years, the brand had sold over 1,500 sets and is amongst the most popular Google searches in its field. A first for Malaysia, its designs even veer towards the patriotic with 14 spokes representing the 14 stripes on the Jalur Gemilang. Names are also distinctively local with handles such as Bintang and Pisang. The designs service various categories, from sedans to retro and premium cars. Though wheels are their primary game, Atara Racing also assists in sourcing parts for retro cars by tapping into a wide network of peers.

Today, Atara Racing has its own racing team and is present in the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Western and Eastern Europe, as well as South East Asia. Operations are still headquartered in Malaysia, while partnerships in said regions oversee business in their respective countries. The model sees the Malaysian flag flown proudly in the world of tuners as the brand continues to grow. Customers are typically car mod enthusiasts, car builders and racers, and include the likes of Zizan Razak and Achey. Imitators and fakes are a constant challenge and Kuoppa rates the business as a high-risk one, but being the first to initiate it here and possessing the expertise to realise the products with finesse add to the brand’s credibility.

In tandem with the hot wheels is a penchant for showcasing retro rides for fans and the greater public. Retro Havoc is one such expression, an automotive show characterised by prominent international guests and inventive venues such as a hangar at Skypark Regional Aviation Centre in Shah Alam in 2014, and a multi-storey car park at Neo Damansara in 2015. Each edition generates a bigger buzz than the last, growing the event exponentially every year.

“The local retro scene is actually almost on par with our neighbours but we lack a world-class platform to showcase these vehicles,” explains Kuoppa. “The initial idea behind Retro Havoc was to invite guests from the region or globally to publicise the local scene and we have actually reached the stage where other countries are starting to imitate us.”

Success is undoubtedly sweet and while the going is tough, the founders are enjoying the ride. “We credit it to all our friends and fans – we have die-hard fans around the world who want to represent us at no cost,” he continues. “They just want to roll with us. I believe that is due to our strong brand communication and good customer service by our global partners. We love being able to touch the hearts of retro car owners. We might not be famous yet but our name is starting to be compared to the big brands, and that is something. We are truly proud to represent the country we live in. Malaysia Boleh!”

 

By Rowena Jo Fernandez

This article is related to BUSINESS AUTOMOBILE CREATEWITHMALAYSIA

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