Viet Nam News
Having operated a garage in Đà Nẵng, Đoàn Chí Thành, 27, has started a business of car modification, drawing on his ample experience with cars to design and create innovative models for his demanding clients.
The garage, situated on Xô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh Street, is a creative space for Thành and his team of mechanics to put together the new custom models.
Most of the modified cars are luxury brands, for which Thành’s garage provides maintenance and spare parts. However, customers are showing a preference for attractive bodywork and interior decoration, as well as a significant roar from the exhaust pipe.
“There are hundreds of choices in the modification of a car, from spare parts, wheels, tires, exhausts, engines, and styling. Users also ask our garage for upgrades to a car’s engine capacity or storage,” Thành said.
“Some car owners want their old-style vehicles to be equipped with a new, fresh design. For example, we can change a 2009 model to a newly launched one. It takes a little change to the body and a few modifications to the interior, and car users have a new style car on an old engine and frame,” he said.
In the driver’s seat: Đoàn Chí Thành tests a new modified Mercedes Benz G Class before releasing it to the customer. Courtesy Photo of Huan Thanh Workshop
Thành said searching for specific spare parts and accessories for the modifications can take up to one or two months, because they are not available in Việt Nam.
He said most spare parts and accessories need to be ordered from the US and other agents abroad.
The Đà Nẵng-born garage owner said the mechanic team took three days to complete an upgrade on a Ferrari 488 GTB, comprising a full-body kit, rear air wings, and exhaust pipe.
“It’s a really hard job for us when the 2016 model is near perfect. However, the car owner wanted an extraordinary look for the classic Ferrari model in his collection,” Thành said, adding that the team had to replace the lower plastic rear air wings with carbon fibre one.
“We also ordered software for our modification model, to make sure that the car runs safely, and the engine capacity is kept in line with the modified spare parts and accessories.”
The 27-year-old mechanic was also impressed with an order to upgrade a military-use off-road Mercedes G Class model.
The four-wheel drive vehicle, which was originally designed for use by the Swiss Army, was one of only two commercial copies imported to Việt Nam.
Thành said a technician from Mercedes Benz in Việt Nam resold one to a local buyer, and the car was disguised as a military off-road vehicle with camouflage paint.
“It’s a manual design for off-road trips and forest patrol. The diesel six-cylinder engine was kept original, but the interior needed redecoration with leather seats, the intake air filter was changed, and the halogen head lamps were replaced with LED bulbs,” Thành said.
“We also fitted larger tyres and rims to really make it a ‘muscle warrior’ around town. It’s still a rare car in Đà Nẵng, and the model has remained unchanged for decades,” he said, adding that it’s really extraordinary vehicle to see on the street.
Muscle motor: A full body view of the modified Mercedes Benz G Class. Courtesy Photo of Huan Thanh Workshop
Off-road Ford Ranger
Thành has his own modified truck, created from a 2005 Ford Ranger pick-up, with camouflage decals covering the vehicle’s body for off-road trips.
A little change to the interior, with leather seat covers, made the truck a little more comfortable.
He also installed LED roof lights and head lamps for driving at night.
Thành said he had to upgrade the truck’s diesel four-cylinder engine from a 2.5 litre to a 3 litre.
“We fitted a turbocharger, air filter, and larger fuel injection unit to supply enough fuel for the bigger cylinders,” Thành said.
Two portable fuel tanks were installed on the vehicle’s body and disguised with paint, while a small gasoline drum was installed to store personal belongings on off-road trips.
Thành said most new car models often feature an automatic gear system, but professional drivers and off-road lovers prefer a manual transmission.
He said car modification is only just emerging in Đà Nẵng, and the number of buyers is still limited.
Thành said he wishes to have a team or a modified car association in Đà Nẵng – where mechanics and mechanical engineers, as well as collectors, can share their innovative ideas, experience, and passions.
“It’s really an endless fascination when you think about it. It’s a constant series of challenges that you have to overcome before every new modification project is complete.” — VNS