Travel: Stalking RennDrive, Thailand’s RWB-heavy Porsche Group

Stalking RennDrive, Thailand’s RWB-heavy Porsche Group

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
July 20, 2015
6 comments

Story and Photography by: Ananthan Sivaraman

The Rebel Alliance, informally known as the Rebellion, was a faction of insurgents in the original Star Wars trilogy. Its goal was simple: restore freedom, peace, and the former Galactic Republic from the evil Galactic Empire ruled by a maniacal Emperor Palpatine.

Joining The Rebellion must have been the epitome of cool in the Star Wars galaxy. If that’s the case, the pilot of an X-Wing would be equivalent to a Steve McQueen or James Dean here on earth—with millions of teenage fans re-enacting key moments from the films. I was one of them.

Like Star Wars, the Porsche 911 has recently enjoyed a resurgence thanks to enthusiasts who have grown up with it. And among the younger fans of this iconic sports car, there are no 911s more cool—more “Rebel Alliance”—than those built by Japanese tuner Rauh-Welt Begriff, more commonly known as RWB.

For the past year, I have been following a stunningly beautiful 1966 911 SWB on Instagram, @tennster, better known as Tenn from Thailand. Through Tenn, I came across his group called RennDrive. As he says, the group had quite an informal start as a few people who enjoyed going for drives.

“Well, RennDrive started off as a Sunday meet up about 3 years ago. I used to go on my Sunday morning drives by myself. Then, I began taking pictures and posting them online. Some of my friends saw these pictures and places I drove to, they wanted in,” Tenn says. “Most of my friends had rides, but didn’t really drive them as much as they should. So I started setting up early morning coffee meets. It was a great arrangement, everyone was happy. And most importantly, the cars got driven.”

It’s a splinter faction of Porsche loyalists that seemed to have manifested itself out of thin air, taking charge of the Southeast Asian Porsche scene with a certain poise and coolness. RennDrive’s dictum reads, “RennDrive is not a Club. We have no rules other than to have fun”. Interesting.

RennDrive keeps its social media networks constantly active with content, and it’s difficult to not be sucked into its world. Each time I login, there’s another epic drive through the streets or picturesque mountains of Thailand. It’s just a ceaseless stream of Porsche pornography. I had been keeping track of RennDrive’s progress on this long drive through Instagram, with its 1,500 km journey beginning in Bangkok. Twenty-two Porsches were loaded into double decked flatbed trailers to be sent to Hat Yai, where the journey to Sepang began. Yes: flatbed trailers. They had trailers and two support vehicles—I thought to myself, “Good god, who are these guys?”

“With RennDrive, we usually have 3 trips per year, our epic drives, well, so far this has been the furthest we have ever been to! Our huge trips are usually destined for the northern drive, where we go up the mountains in northern Thailand,” he says. “Then at this period of the year, we would head down south, to the beach, but, we drove slightly further off course and decided to come to Sepang.”

The first few Porsches to arrive in Sepang were RWBs. Witnessing the utter insanity of an RWB in person usually leaves you speechless. RWBs have a polarising effect on enthusiasts. Be it love or hate, reactions are always the same. Jaws on the floor, shaking your head in disbelief…usually followed by a bit of profanity. 

It’s impossible to talk about Thailand’s newfound Porsche hot rodding culture without bringing up RWB or Akira Nakai. As of writing this article, there are 21 RWB Porsches in Thailand. Most of them are part of RennDrvie’s core team. Tenn owns the 5th RWB created in Thailand, a sinister black 964 Turbo, with an Interscope Porsche-inspired livery. The only other country that has more RWBs is Japan.

As a result, RWBThailand is one of the major catalyst for this Porsche hot-rodding movement in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Taste is, of course, subjective. Personally, I have always preferred the classic, simple look of older, unmodified Porsche. Simple shapes and lines require confidence in design. To me, RWBs are ostentatious—but that’s the charm. A RWB draws you in, forcing you to examine it, and question its existence. We need artists like Nakai-San, people who deliver a wonderful palette of choice in a world dominated by homogenous design.

Thing is, even people new to the Porsche family are quickly finding a reason to get an older model to drive and—as far as RWB specials are concerned—modify.

“After their first Sunday meet up, the first thing they would usually do, is sell off their new models for air-cooled machines. They turn into air-cooled fanatics in an instance,” Tenn says of many new RennDrive members. “They don’t really care for circumstances, they just want, what they want, when they want. But the car pool for air-cooled Porsches in Thailand is tiny. The amount of 964s and 993s imported into Thailand were only in the hundreds. The car pool is getting smaller and the cars are getting ridiculously expensive. We have this running joke among my friends, blaming me for the increase in price. For goodness sake, I bought my cars 6 years ago, I can’t even afford to sell my old ones because I probably couldn’t afford to buy new ones!”

If you are looking to join a group of like-minded enthusiasts in Southeast Asia and are not afraid of taking your classic car out for a long drive, joining the group is quite simple, Tenn says.

“RennDrive is an open group. Anyone can join us, there isn’t a membership procedure, and we don’t set rules like a Club. Just be nice to each other, and have fun. But—and this is a huge but—if you don’t have the chemistry, it’ll be hard. You just won’t fit in. These guys, they’re not normal. They’re slightly mad.”

Tenn goes on to explain that many in the club help with its administration; a member who does a travel show on TV helps to plan the route, another is a hotelier who helps to track down accomodations. Bringing people from a number of different professions helps to simplify the events that they hold.

The next morning, Tenn and RennDrive headed up the beautiful twisty roads of Cameron Highlands. I didn’t join them for the trip, but according to Tenn, this was by far the best RennDrive trip they have had. I’m sure the best is yet to come. 

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Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

I’ve been keeping my eye on Renndrive ever since Excellence did their first feature on the group a few years ago with Renndrive then appearing across almost all Porsche media [ print and online ] ever since . My kind of guys and dang do they ever build some tastefully creative 911’s . But err .. forget about the ” Star Wars ” analogy when it comes to RennDrive ! Better to go with ” Firefly ” and its movie companion ” Serenity ” . The ‘ Rebel Alliance ‘ being so overly homogenized 70’s in comparison to Joss Whedon’s… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

PS; Hows about a link or three for Renndrive ?

Tenn Xoomsai Na Ayudhya
Tenn Xoomsai Na Ayudhya
Jon Tabor
Jon Tabor

Very cool. One thing, though — do these pictures look a bit washed out/lacking contrast to anyone else but me? I’m guessing that’s the style the photographer was going for? To me, it makes them lack some “pop”, but to each his own.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

I hadn’t noticed initially but upon 2nd glance yes . They do look a bit ‘ flat ‘ to me as well .

Travis
Travis

Yes, it is a photographic style. In a world where oversaturation and intense over-processing, some times the subdued and muted, desaturated photos are nice. I’ve also found that it helps create an emotion. Some people like it, some don’t. As a photographer I try to vary my photo edits so neither one style becomes stale.