The Return of Vintage Autos

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Helmet Clan


Helmet Clan
Jul 6, 2000
Kuala Lumpur

How many of you are die-hard fans of classic cars? It's probably safe to say that millions of people would love to own an antique car, if for no other reason than the status that comes with it. In reference to Paul Tan's report on The 46th Victorian Hot Rod Show held in Melbourne recently, the culture is booming in the city of Oz, and such pieces of gleaming metal are considered finely crafted jewels as well as collectables for car enthusiasts. Looks like vintage has indeed made a comeback!

Vintage car restoration involves restoring historical beauty to its original form. Collecting and restoring vintage and antique cars can be an addictive hobby. These rare models are scarcely used on the road other than on special occasions. So other than the hefty price tags that come attached to these pieces of art, what else is stopping collectors from laying their hands on such priceless beauties? Young car enthusiast, Kanapathy Panichelvan 24, chief mechanic of Roles Auto Services, explains that the main reason is probably due to the high intervals of maintenance.

"Maintaining antique cars is not everyone's cup of tea. Proper care is essential to maintain vintage cars and the most important and difficult step is in restoring them as the required spare parts are extremely hard to find. Many times spares parts are custom made to fit the structure of the vintage car," he shared, adding that the trend of reviving vintage cars back to life actually started since the airing of Discovery Turbo. "We actually have quite a few orders from owners who bought classic cars that are not in running condition and ask us to revamp and bring them back to life!" he exclaimed. Kanapathy then went on to say that as these cars are rarely used, car owners might find problems with starting their engines and they need professionals to check and service their cars.

Kanapathy Panchelvan, 24, is currently working at his family workshop that caters to the high-end market.

Having just graduated from the The Otomotif College (TOC) two years ago, Kanapathy has since gone back to help his father in their workshop that caters to the high-end market. Dealing with royalties, Very Very Important People (VVIP) or even local artists are considered a part and parcel of their daily life. In fact, they just finished servicing a special Bentley Limousine model; the likes of which ferried Queen Elizabeth around back in the day. The workshop in Kompleks Selayang specializes in servicing classic cars such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and even Jaguars. Prices for their services range from a reasonable RM 1,500 up to RM 5000, depending on the models and parts of cars involved. Nevertheless, both father and son do not compromise on the quality of service they deliver to customers. "We don't want to cheat on our customers' money so we always bring in the original parts ordered from the United Kingdom to ensure the safety and comfort of car owners," stated Kanapathy.

"I am indeed thankful that I have been well exposed to different car models and their technologies at TOC. You see, vintage cars are decidedly harder to deal with compared to normal cars in terms of service and maintenance. Take for example, my two favorite cars, which are the Aston Martin and Ferrari. Sure, they are amazing in terms of performance and speed, but the working skills required to fine-tune them, and the proper way to service them really requires professional training. This is because their bodies are made of fibre and therefore can get cracked or dented easily. The wiring is also pretty complicated as well," Kanapathy exclaimed.

Nonetheless, Kanapathy is well-familiarized with servicing various models in the market, as TOC exposes their students to high technology electronics and other technologies. TOC brought in over 20 different Asian and European real working car models for their students to practice on. Such cars include BMW, Mercedes Benz, Lexus as well as the Honda Civic Hybrid, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Subaru, Hyundai, Proton and etc. The college even installed a four-wheel drive chassis dynamometer – a highly advanced machine that calculates the horsepower and torque measurements on the front and rear wheels, for students to be exposed to standard motorsport high-end equipment.

Kanapathy poses with one of his favorite cars, a vintage Rolls Royce. He plans to build a car running on different brands of engines and transmission and bring it to the race track some day.

In addition, Kanapathy also benefited from TOC's program which emphasizes on practical experiences as this industry requires professional hands-on skills. Therefore the college's courses are 70% practical based and students are exposed extensively to the actual workshop environment during internship at 800 dedicated venue partners around Malaysia. This valuable learning experience helps TOC students gain a strong foundation with real world automotive education and up-to-date knowledge, thus ensuring a successful future.

"I'm glad I've learned so much on different cars and engines whilst being guided by TOC's team of experienced instructors, all of whom possess a minimum degree level qualification. Being experts in the field, they really taught me a lot especially in terms of wiring and electronics," Kanapathy elaborated.

Kanapathy adapted easily to his working environment, particularly the very complex area of electrical and electronics. "I put the knowledge and practical skills gained from TOC to good use. I wouldn't be able to fix all these different wiring systems without a solid foundation in electronics. You see, we learnt several subjects on the theoretical study and practical analysis of issues related to the field of electrical and electronic technology applied to automobiles. This we did inside TOC's cutting edge laboratory which consisted of several different electromagnetic simulators. The simulators helped us understand the operations of all the main electrical or electronic systems and components. We worked on the simulator panels at our own pace before moving to the actual ("live") vehicle," he said. Apart from that, Kanapathy enjoyed the self-learning sessions for the theoretical parts which were conducted through simulated faults programmed via personal computers based on a series of dedicated computer- based interactive learning courseware.

Kanapathy is also a final year student at Unitec in Auckland, New Zealand.

"Of course I'm glad I chose TOC to further my studies upon completion of my SPM. I did a lot of research beforehand and am thankful I made the right choice," stated Kanapathy. The boy who aspires to become a Formula One mechanic hopes to be more involved in the motorsports field as time goes on.

"TOC has set me on the right track with exposure and hands-on experience in the motorsports arena as well. I have done drifting, dragging and I'm now in the Japan GT race category. One day I will build my own race car and bring it to the tracks," he smiled.

Established in 2005, TOC has grown by leaps and bounds to its current local and international student population of about 1,300 at its Petaling Jaya campus. TOC students benefit from the cutting-edge facilities, top grade trainers, technologically advanced equipment and software besides a guaranteed career placement and development. The college's dedication to providing the best automotive education is reflected in the millions of Ringgit spent on the sophisticated software and branded equipment, as well as in the state-of-the-art facilities such as Autotronics laboratory, chassis dynamometer, Electude(an online automotive diagnostic program), engine simulators, diagnostic tools and so on. TOC upgrades their training facilities constantly with additional training aids and simulators, besides buying new vehicles for in- college practical training.

Besides their main campus in Petaling Jaya, TOC has offices in Penang and Sabah to provide detailed information about automotive courses, careers, and our unique lifetime job placement.

For the newly opened Penang office at Kristal Suites, Bayan Lepas, call 04-640 2867. Sabahans can visit the office at Kompleks Asia City or call 088-488 950.

To ensure that students make well-informed decisions, TOC organizes the OTTO Camp (Open Day) to show the usage of some of the sophisticated equipment and see first-hand how they work. Prospective students and parents will be able to catch a glimpse into the exciting automotive world at the upcoming OTTO Camp at our Petaling Jaya campus on March 19, 2011 from 10.00am-4.00pm. Due to high demand, students must call 03-7955 2811 or visit to register for the limited seats.

Text: TOC


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