- Published: Wednesday, 03 May 2017 13:26
Ken Pan’s unique Toyota Corolla Altis is proof you can achieve your ‘mod vision’ without sacrificing peace of mind
The world's best selling car, Toyota's Corolla, has always been known as humble transport for the everyman.
But the design of the latest Corolla Altis hasn’t gone unnoticed. Its design language has caught on with a different set of car owners like 36- year-old Ken Pan.
The aircraft engineer is one of the pioneering members of the SG Altis Club, a group of like-minded enthusiasts who convened an owners’ club of their own. Much of their enthusiasm has been inspired by, in their own words, the sculptured new lines of the latest 11th gen Corolla.
Ken talks to our writer at one of his favourite places - the TRD corner of Borneo Motors Leng Kee showroom
But while all of them have their own take on the perfect Corolla Altis through various enhancements, Ken’s ride is a little different.
The Mod King (no not this sort of mod), as he's been dubbed inside the club, has the sort of car that obviously isn’t stock, but doesn’t cross the line into OTT territory - and it’s also possessed of a unique focus.
There’s the badge-less front, the body kit and the alloy wheels, all visible to the naked eye of course, but Ken puts a premium on improved handling and car dynamics which almost comes as no surprise, given his professional background.
"I was driving the previous facelifted generation fitted with strut and anti-roll bars, front lower valves, and larger rims. I salvaged most of what I could and had them installed on my current car," he says.
To elevate his Altis above the ordinary, Ken breaks up the stock profile of his Altis through either one of two options, lowering the car or installing a body kit. Being a family man and in anticipation of his dad's nagging, the first was out of the question, so a body kit it was, and the family now rides in style and comfort.
But was there a mod he ever regretted?
It was fitting lights to the undercarriage of his first car. Reflecting, Ken says, "Why take the risk with electrical wiring? I've heard of cars catching fire, so when I choose my mod, I'm not only practical, it has to be safe. If not, I'd rather pay a bit more for Borneo Motors to do it right. If I get a reputable place to do it, they'll also honour the warranty and not run away."
Apart from initially being a few modding streets ahead of other members, it's Ken's generous propensity for dispensing information and advice with a healthy dollop of common sense and perspective that's earned him his nickname.
Whenever it comes to any modification though, Ken has one thought that overrides all else:"Safety should be everybody's concern, I've seen crash videos on cars with and without strut bars, and it could mean the difference between life or death."
As one who walks the talk, Ken welcomes fellow enthusiasts into the passenger seat of his car to get the feel and mechanical advantage of a mod, while a few lucky ones get a test drive. Quite generous of him considering how personal a car can be for some, "To me, there is no boundary with friendship. We gather to makan, sing songs, and talk shop, and some have become very close friends over the past year. It's easy to expand the joy in our hearts because of our shared interests."
Intending to drive out the full ten years of his COE, Ken is taking his time to tinker around and savor each mod fully before the next. "'I'm going to give my car a little treat each year, a surprise that will have me enjoying and loving my Altis even more," he says with a smile. With his most recent mod a new head unit for a big sound, Ken believes there's always room to improve.
And will there come a time when he says to himself enough is enough? Ken, the Mod King replies with confidence, "Yes, there will be a full stop, as to when it will come, I can't say, because my modding journey is just beginning, and to stop now is way too soon for me."
Despite what Ken says, and being avid car enthusiasts ourselves, we suspect that he enjoys the whole process of modding far more than the end product. But having started out with a solid base - with a Corolla Altis purchased directly from Borneo Motors - we’re also quite sure he’ll be driving happy no matter where his mod journey takes him.