80s cartoons were said to be one of the best eras of cartoons, shows like Transformers Generation 1, TMNT and Thundercats are all now nostalgic blasting goodies and legendary classics for those who grew up in that era, something that the younger generation can only appreciate if you’re the type of person who appreciates old things (like me). The 80s was also the era of technology and computers, everything had to somehow relate to it because it was the beginning of the rapid progression of computers, even cars were getting more advance, with chips and hardware managing your vehicle instead of the old manual adjustment days. Speaking of cars (which is why we’re here), a lot of cool cars were featured in cartoons, either drawn realistically or stylistically based on the show, many characters from G1 Transformers transformed into real and very cool cars of the time.
One cartoon show, however, was made with an entirely bizarre story featuring a talking car. While Knight Rider was probably the most prominent one, the futuristic, indestructible and talking car K.I.T.T was the coolest Pontiac Trans-Am ever, but that show wasn’t a cartoon, it was live-action and marketed more to adults This show….well, take a look at the intro.
Yes, you saw that right, that boy elongated himself, morphed his face, somehow grew fabrics and plastics for the interior and turned into a full size car, his car to be exact, the incredible Turbo Teen! and if you didn’t see that face morph clearly, take a look at this.
This has got to be one of the weirdest shows ever, with a completely wacky plot. The story goes when one night, Brett Matthews swerved and crashed into an experiment that somehow bonded his DNA with his car, turning him into Turbo Teen. Because of this frankly freak accident, he decides to use this ability to turn into a car to become a superhero, along the ride (literally) is Brett’s girlfriend and best friend. Brett can’t change at will, he can only become Turbo Teen if he is exposed to heat, and will only revert back to human form if exposed to cold, which would make times when he really needed to change quite difficult, though I’m sure that was purposely done for the story. The story goes on with him doing typical 80s kid hero things, with a subplot of him trying to get a cure and unmasking a shadowy figure chasing them in a monster truck.
Brett’s car mode is heavily based on the Pontiac Trans-Am, which was a very 80s looking car. However, the Trans-Am was never sold with a turbo engine in the 80s, the word TURBO was used so much at the time even computers had a turbo mode! Even though it’s quite a common automotive term now, I think saying turbo just takes you back to the 1980s, and turbos weren’t even invented during that time, it was much earlier than that.
Turbo Teen was so weird that many people really didn’t catch on to it, although a small number of people did love it, though that wasn’t enough for the creators to make a second season. Turbo Teen only ran for one season in 1984, with only 13 episodes, after that, the show pretty much fell into obscureness. I’m not sure whether we got Turbo Teen back in the 80s or 90s here in Malaysia, and if you ask anyone, I doubt many will say “Yes, I remember!”. As a car enthusiast, having shows featuring the cars prominently or even a character (like K.I.T.T) is always cool, but having a human forcibly transform into a car based on the exposed temperature? Oof that’s just a bit too far, Brett must have felt a lot of pain, with metal, rubber, plastics and all other stuff coming out of him, and probably had a constantly terrible aftertaste of petrol when turned back into his human form. Although I’m sure some people, somewhere have long life dreams of becoming something like this, hey it’s your kink, I’m not judging, to you, it is probably very cool to turn your insides and out into a car of your dreams, and having people seat inside you to play with your buttons and knobs, whatever pleases you.
If you do want to see episodes of Turbo Teen, they should be easy enough to find, though don’t expect a clear high-quality copy of it. Plus, since they’re only 13 episodes, you can finish the show in one sitting and think for yourselves about the plot, story and characters. Now if you thought that they somehow made a toy line-up for this show despite its very short run, you thought right! Take a lot at this Turbo Teen figure!
I have to admit, I’m a huge Ford fan, I love all the Fords that have come out in the past and their current line-up. My favourites include the Mustang (that’s obligatory), 46′ Convertible Deluxe, Cortina, Escort, Transit, the Aussie Falcon, Sierra, Telstar, Fiesta, Fusion, Aerostar and many more that will just make this article into a long list. I even have a small collection (very small) of some cool Ford cars, the best one I have? its this 1972 Ford Falcon GT XB from Mad Max, which is also the best Ford movie car ever, I mean you know your car company is cool if a mad ex-police officer drives a customized V8 Ford Falcon with a supercharger and zoomie pipes at the sides through the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland.
Of course, not every car company is perfect, apparently, Henry Ford was antisemitic? and some of their cars and build quality have been quite questionable, like the Ford 500, which nobody remembered, the original Explorer, which had stability issues and other things that have happened in the past and in recent times. Despite that, Ford is still my number one go-to brand If I wanted to get a car, unfortunately, they’ve stopped selling any of them. Literally, all other Ford models are not for sale new here, the only one standing is the Ranger, Mustang and Everest SUV (sort of, I’ve never seen one, ever). Don’t get me wrong, The Ranger is a fantastic pickup, and the Mustang is a good enough alternative to other sports cars I guess? It’s just they have been completely ruined by the MLM crowd who wrap them in extremely vulgar colours and they don’t even buy the car from official dealers. Occasionally you still do see the last generation Focus and Fiesta running around and there’s still plenty for sale on the used car market. Official service centres probably take care of them in terms of maintenance and spare parts, but other than that, Ford drivers are pretty much alone now, with not much presence as it used to, this wasn’t true many, many, many years ago though. Ford was so much bigger here in Malaysia, it wasn’t just another foreign manufacturer, it was the very first one.
Ford was THE first locally assembled car in Malaysia, or should I say Malaya or Tanah Melayu, Ford has been here since 1926! However, before that, Malaya did have some sort of automotive presence, and this was way back when cars had wooden wheels and were absolutely expensive, tiring, terrible and a terrifying experience to drive. Cars began making their way here in the early 1900s and expanded slowly before World War 1 happened, with mainly British brands such as Humber, Argyll and Rover being popular and dominant (some of these companies don’t exist anymore). Other brands also broke into the very early automotive market here, such as car brands from the USA gained quite some traction and at one point dominating against British car sales after the first World War ended because of its cheaper price tag, although I can’t imagine how cheap it was back then, only British expatriates and insanely wealthy local people could really afford an automobile, which back then, must have been a sight to see something with wheels and an engine going past you. Below here is the chart of Malaysian car sales from a book written by Prof. Dr Shakila Yacob, who has documented our rich automotive history in her book which is mainly about economics and business, but despite that, the story of Ford and other cars here is very detailed. Thank you Professor and the people who created these data and sources!
Still, in the timeframe (the 1910s and 20s), Ford saw interest in Malaysia because of its strategic location (as with all people seeking to use our country). Ford believed that they could penetrate the market and expand further in Asia. Ford Canada elected to create this business opportunity, because Canada, like Malaysia, was also under British rule, this made it easier due to some sort of rule that made colonized countries be able to export cars duty-free to other colony nations, Ford Canada was set up by Ford USA to take advantage of this. This initial planning and strategy would then expand to a big automotive empire later. In 1909 the Ford Model N was the very first Ford car to enter Malaysia, speaking of first, Perak was the first-ever state to have a car, you can read the story here of who and what car did the super-rich owner drove back then.
After the initial success by Ford’s first agent here, Gadelious & Company, Ford cars were slowly beginning to become popular, Wearne & Company took over later to distribute the cars and based their headquarters in Singapore. Here are some links and photos to the original ads, now these are crazy old stuff! I managed to find a clear PDF of Prof. Dr Shakila’s work where there are some ads from both agents.
Later on, in 1926, the Ford Motor Company of Malaya LTD was officially established, the factory was set up in Singapore in a small building assembling the then-current Ford Model T (this means that we might have some rotting/sitting around somewhere in the country), later on as the company grew, Ford Malaya needed a newer, bigger factory to assemble more modern cars and trucks. In 1941, they moved to Bukit Timah, Singapore (remember, this was many years before our independence day, Singapore was still a part of our country). This factory, and it is kept preserved in Singapore as a museum now, was the first fully-fledged automobile factory in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, this was a huge deal for the country and economy. Unfortunately, the new hyped up factory was sort of short-lived, two months after the factory opened to be exact, World War II happened and the Japanese invaded Singapore. This event relates heavily to the factory because apparently, this was the place where the Japanese commander, General Yamashita summoned the British commander, General Percival to formally surrender, in fact, there is a replica of the surrender table in the museum. You can check out more photos of the factory on this blog or this Singaporean government website.
Naturally, when the Japanese occupied the factory, they weren’t going to churn out brand new Ford models, the only vehicles that were to be made had to be Nissan and Toyota military trucks. The drop in vehicles was so bad after the occupation when the British took back the factory, Ford England had to export their models to Malaysia, according to Prof. Dr Shakila Yakob’s book, only 74 Ford cars were shipped here, the rest being Bedford trucks and motorcycles, times were tough but soon Ford Malaya was back on their feet churning out cars to the people, the cars now were taken from Ford England to be assembled here. Many more improvements, partnerships and models came over the years, with more dealers now popping up in more states, advertisements in Bahasa Melayu and networks to satisfy customers growing, Ford was going very strong, releasing new models such as the Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac the 1950s.
While Ford may be an American brand, the cars and parts all came from Ford of England, we didn’t get any American made Ford cars unless they were imported but that was extremely unlikely. But this didn’t stop America from trying to get into the market again after their initial success many years back, this time, General Motors was planning something big to expand their cars into the Asian market. However, those plans were thwarted when the British administration banned imports of American cars, forcing General Motors to build their factory in Indonesia, hence why there are plenty of abandoned GM cars lying around there, you can check out abandonedcarsindonesia and these news articles telling the story of how it all happened here and here. I’m glad that NewspaperSG kept these articles in digitized form! In conclusion, GM lost the battle to set foot here and never truly came in albeit some very few Cadillac cars (Tunku Abdul Rahman had one) and the more popular Holden models that came later, which also became our police car.
Ford was expanding more, selling great cars and becoming an icon here, with other British makes such as Morris and Austin also making names here. In the 50s, a large chunk of car sales were British vehicles, which was obvious because of our history with them. In the 1960s, Ford rolled out the brand new Cortina and it was selling like hotcakes, the Cortina was Malaysia’s best selling car at the time, and was built in the Singapore plant! the Ford Cortina was like non-other, it was a jack of all trades with a fresh, practical and sporty styling inspired from American cars. It wasn’t just the looks, the Cortina came with a couple of engine options, with some trim levels developing a respectable amount of power for its time.
Everything was going great, and in 1963, something greater happened, Malaysia was officially formed. The government began to work and started making policies that would enable foreign companies to obtain licenses to build and assemble cars locally here, this was to further progress our industrialization, create more jobs and create a market of locally made parts for the new cars, Malaysia was steadily growing in the automotive sector.
Unfortunately, not many things worked out so well, Singapore separated from Malaysia two years later due to complicated political things (go read your history book). This separation caused an issue to the local assemblers who had just begun settling here, so they banded together to form the Motor Vehicle Assembler Association (now the Malaysian Automotive Association) to form a neutral ground for both countries to come to a conclusion. This didn’t go very well and soon, Malaysia restricted the importation of cars from Singapore and made local assemblers choose between us or Singapore. It was bad news for Singapore as almost all of the assemblers decided to stay with Malaysia, Ford stayed in Singapore but our neighbour eventually lost all of its automotive assemblies because of high costs and low domestic market interest. By the 1980s, Singapore was not rolling off cars anymore, I mean honestly, they had to expect this, it’s a tiny island, the country knew they had to control this. Singapore later went on to having very strict policies, taxes and laws on vehicle ownership, focusing more on public transport (which did the job since they’re much more efficient and better at it than us).
Back in Malaysia, we were spoiling ourselves with a smorgasbord of locally assembled goodies, cars like Volvo, Fiat and Opel were all being built here and hitting the streets, this didn’t mean Ford wasn’t pulling back, the Escort and Cortina were still the choices of many Malaysians (though I’m not sure if these ones were made here or were imported from England since Singapore just broke up with us). Continental cars were dominating the roads but something happened that changed all of this success forever, and it came from the Land of The Rising Sun.
In the 70s, the surge of Japanese automobiles was coming in fast, during and after the fuel crisis, companies like Datsun, Toyota and Honda thrived with their fuel-efficient, cheap and quality cars, it sort of took the world by storm, conquering markets and challenging huge car companies. Before all of this, most cars weren’t really all that reliable nor were they exactly fuel-efficient (that was America’s problem that led to their automotive industry crumbling), but the Japanese somehow made it all work properly and packaged it in a neat car body, with the additional benefit of being competitively priced and very good for value against their continental rivals. Just like the ad above, you can clearly see that Malaysians soon favoured Datsuns more than anything else, sales of Ford cars declined as Datsun and Toyota fought for the highest sales with Mazda, Mitsubishi and others following suit. By the mid-70s, Japanese cars were dominating the market, these events would soon motivate Tun Dr. Mahathir to create our own national car with the help of Mitsubishi.
With more policies and changing of ownership, by the 1980s, the blue oval pretty much didn’t exist until they made a comeback later on in the 1990s, selling cars such as the Laser, Telstar and Ranger. Ford kept going into the 2000s with the Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport under their new distributor, Sime Darby Motors, unfortunately, with low sales, gearbox issues (Fiesta) and the premium pricing which made it too expensive to justify getting one, people flocked to the more competitively priced Japanese brands. These factors made what Ford is today, now dramatically reduced to just selling the Ranger, go to any dealer and the only thing you’ll see are variants of the pickup parked in their lots.
It’s sad really, that once such a big name in Malaysia has now pretty much gone, and it’s made even worse because you don’t see old Ford cars are much as old Japanese cars, in fact, you don’t see any of the other continental brands as much as old Corollas and Datsuns, heck, even those old Japanese cars have become less common. Now granted, with lower sales, it’s not going to be easy finding these cars and also most of them never survived, there was no such thing as rust protection back then, so most of these cars probably have completely rusted to dust. But unlike Japanese cars from the 70s, you will almost never see any Fords from the same era for sale on any used car websites, the only way to find any is to join groups such as British Classic Ford Owners Club where they have members and people who sell cars and spare parts for old Fords.
That’s really the only way to find old Ford cars, other continental brands and the more popular Japanese ones that were made in the 70s and before that, the only way to find them are Facebook groups or spotting them at car shows. Not even our museums have any surviving examples of any cars made from the past like the Model T Fords that were assembled here, and I’m not just talking about the locally made Fords and the other brands, cars in public services, such as police cars, double-decker busses and taxis were simply not preserved for people to look at today. In fact, not all classic Protons are present in our museums, I don’t think we even have any of the cool and rare export models that I’m sure not many people know about. Now I could be wrong about this, I haven’t been to the national museum in a long time and I haven’t even set foot to the automobile museum in Sepang, but judging from the photos, there really isn’t much in terms of car exhibits, we should have these cars, foreign or not, they were part of our automotive history, it’s a shame that no examples survived, it would have been awesome to see a locally made Model T, Cortina, or even cars registered here from the early 1900s, but I guess we just don’t appreciate history to that extent. I could also be wrong on how our museums keep these data and information, the automobile museum might also have the history written or documented but most of the links I’ve attached are from Singaporean websites, which makes more sense since Ford was pretty much built there, could that be the reason why there isn’t much documentation and physical proof here? that’s a story for another time or something to discuss in the comments.
Ford today will most likely still keep selling the Ranger unless the distributors want to try and penetrate the market again, but for now, if you want a Ford, realistically your only choice is the Ranger, used Focus and Fiestas or if you dig deep enough, find an old Ford that’s not rusted to pieces. Ford’s reputation here back in the day became an icon to many Malaysians, looking at the comments section of those old Ford advertisements, I saw many older users reminsicing the days their fathers bought a brand new Cortina or the time they first drove an Escort, even my parents knew what a Cortina was, and they are not by any means car people. It just shows that some cars do bring an impact to people just from their popularity and trend, old Fords certainly do bring that nostalgia back because that’s the only thing they can really do now. Ford should make an official dedicated day celebrating over 90 years here in Malaysia, for nostalgia sake.
Share your thoughts or maybe if you have any more information, feel free to write up in the comments!
If you want to read more in detail on Prof. Dr. Shakila’s book (where I got the table) check it out here. You can also visit the Facebook page where the ads came from or this one for more old car ads, I’m not exactly sure if the ads are from their original owners, or were simply shared. If you are the original owner, feel free to contact us if you’d like the photos taken down. We at MaxTorqueMY do not intend to cause any use of un-consented belongings
It’s rainy season here in Malaysia, these few days have been very cold and very gloomy, with my place seeing constant light showers. But some areas have been affected much..much worse, particularly in the east coast, Pahang and Johor, with Teh Tarik rainwater gushing into people’s houses and on motorways.
This means big trouble for your car, whether you’re stuck in it with water flooding or its been parked somewhere and drowned in the flood, a flooded car/flood-damaged car is not what you need at this time. Here are some tips to help you prepare if such events happen.
When you’re caught in a flood
Leave your car immediately and get to high ground (I can’t say don’t panic because who wouldn’t when water is getting inside your car).
If your car is being swept by the strong current, stay calm and try to exit carefully, either from the window or from the door, but if your door won’t budge from the pressure, wait for the water to fill up your car, then open and swim out (I know it’s crazy but that’s how pressure works).
If you’re swept off from the car by the floodwaters, point your feet downstream (forwards to you) and don’t try to swim or go under obstacles like branches.
Try to find a way to get up to something not flooded and solid, such as buildings, stairs etc. Wait for rescue and keep off the water.
Cry because your car is now being swept away and will probably be damaged from the flood and hitting other stuff.
When you’ve managed to survive the flood, but your car has been flooded to the brim
Don’t start your car after the flood, there may still be water inside the engine which will cause major damage.
Vacuum and clean your vehicle thoroughly, remove absorbed and standing water in your interior as it is full of bacteria, smelly and maybe slushy Teh Tarik coloured depending on the flood type. Humidify your vehicle and use an anti-bacterial spray to clean all the surface.
Floodwater can cause corrosion too, especial saltwater flood, check with your mechanic and make sure your car components are cleaned and dried as soon as possible.
You can do these things by yourself (DIY) or send to a local trusted mechanic:
Check your engine dipstick (the yellow one) and see if there are any water droplets, if there are, that means your cylinders are damaged and will cause even more damage if you start it up.
Check and change other fluids such as oil and transmission, ensuring it’s fresh and clean.
Check the interior floors for any standing water, remove the moisture by wet/dry vacuum, towels or calling a cleaning service that performs stuff like this for cars and make sure it dries properly.
Check the electrical components to see if any are damaged, check the fuse box (the black box that says fuse), if water has seeped into it with caution.
Check the fuel tank for any water (a mechanic can do this).
Any proper vehicle inspection can be done at a mechanic as they have the tools to open and see what has gotten inside your car from the flood. This is the time to be best friends with your mechanic.
If you can file an insurance claim, consult your dealer, insurance and mechanic to discuss the total and settle with them.
Be prepared for the next flood and repeat the process.
It really isn’t fun being in this situation, I have a friend who’s car has been flooded multiple times, but somehow it still manages to start up and drive by just letting it dry for a few days (which you can do too), though over the years, the rust and corrosion from the flood have started to eat the metal of his car, he’s working on restoring it (looking forward to it Nik!). This situation gets worse if your daily driver gets flooded with disgusting floodwater, that’s all slushy and completely stains your seats, luckily, there are people who are able to wet/dry vacuum and clean your seats to make it look brand new. People like Along Pakar Cuci is one of them, you can check out his reviews here and find similar people in your respective states who can do such services. It may cost you quite a bit of money but its a lot better than getting towels to dry off your car or buying the expensive vacuum. If you’re a neat freak with a knack of things being squeaky clean, I suggest you get in touch with people in this service.
Hope these tips help and inform you of what to do in these times, we at MaxTorqueMY pray for the well-being of the flood victims, we hope that victims receive the proper aid and safety away from these horrendous floodings. Stay safe and drive safe everyone, don’t get caught in the water.