Text and photos by Cheryl Tay
Ask anyone who the prominent auto garages in Singapore are and there will definitely be a mention of Garage R. Several times in fact. That’s no surprise, as Garage R has created quite the name for itself with its reputation in reliable car servicing and achievements in motorsports.
Driven by pure passion and enthusiasm in cars and motorsports, Garage R has continuously set benchmarks in the region. Whether it’s a fierce Nissan GT-R R35 Godzilla which spews a mind-blowing output of 1,000bhp, a luxurious Audi S5 which needs more ample braking power or a humble Kia Picanto that needs an oil change, the people at HKS Garage R are more than qualified to ensure that the needs of all types of drivers are met.
From their humble beginnings in the early 1990s, Garage R was merely a humble car workshop in Singapore which imported and exported genuine parts and accessories. Over the years, Garage R’s unyielding commitment to the trade has since grown it into a leading automotive company in the region, with expansion ventures beyond the shores of Singapore to include franchisees in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and The Philippines.
Operations began in their former Upper Thomson Road workshop, which then moved to Tagore Lane before their major turning point came in 2008 when they eventually purchased their place to call home.
When I walked into the 25,000 square-feet one-stop facility at 422 Tagore Industrial Avenue, I was greeted with a hustle and bustle of auto-mechanical activity. Cars were being serviced, paintwork was being polished and everywhere you looked there were automotive-centric actions in place.
Cars have increasingly become a part of people’s lives in Singapore and it is the responsibility of Garage R to make sure that each and every vehicle that visit their premises leave with nothing but the best treatment. With the capabilities to build winning race cars, Garage R has equal or more expertise to handle the nitty gritty everyday problems that drivers face on the road.
Shortly after the entrance is an entire showroom stocked with a wide range of automotive parts and accessories consisting of famous automotive and performance brands. Garage R has earned a reputation for itself as being an established distributor of renowned brands and also for their extensive automotive knowledge, tuning capabilities, engineering prowess and skilled expertise in building and maintaining cars, with only state-of-the-art technology and tools.
Friendly sales advisors await your presence behind the glass doors, ready to hear your motoring woes out and advise you on your next steps. What caught my eye at the customer waiting lounge are the rows and rows of trophies that Garage R has accumulated throughout the years for its successful motor racing endeavours.
Having raced for as long as they existed, Garage R’s strong racing heritage dates back to the early 1990s, where they have consistently built winning cars that smashed records across the region in various types of motorsports like drag racing, drifting, karting, rallies, Time Attack and endurance racing.
I had the privilege to be taken round their one-stop facility for a tour of their comprehensive range of services by Directors Lester Wong and Lawrence Lee, who explained to me their vision and their objectives of the business. Besides the usual services like regular servicing of cars, performance upgrading of cars, retail of both OEM and aftermarket parts and accessories, and accident repairs and insurance claims, they provide unique services such as engine and transmission building, suspension overhaul, chassis development and racing opportunities.
GENERAL SERVICING & MAINTENANCE
Complete maintenance services are available for all drivers of any car: from new drivers, regular drivers, family-oriented drivers, commercial drivers, racing enthusiasts to purists. There is also a broad array of preventive maintenance packages such as engine flush, fuel system cleaning, body care and grooming, brake maintenance, air-con maintenance and paintwork jobs to ensure that your car receives the attention it deserves.
PERFORMANCE UPGRADES & TUNING OF CARS
Famous for tuning with Lester Wong – recognised local motorsports personality – fronting it, Garage R has tuning packages of varying levels for the different types of cars, specific to car brand and model even. They also constantly research and acquire new technologies and updates for vehicle electronics systems, with a special focus on engine management systems.
To the unaware, Garage R was the first workshop in Singapore to customise a Garage R version specifically for targeted car models like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. These custom cars come with additional warranty from Garage R for both the car and its upgraded parts. A proven popularity, customers are keen to collect their keys to a fully-developed car.
NEW & USED CAR SALES
Often mentioned in the media for their commendable efforts and outstanding performance in the sector, Garage R has a wall of fame on the second level with articles from various sources framed up neatly against the black wall.
On this level is also the new and used car showroom, where imports and exports of new and used street and track cars for the average driver are transacted. Various aesthetic and mechanical packages accompanying these cars are optional for owners to choose for their rides.
RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION OF OEM & AFTERMARKET PARTS
With a well-stocked inventory of parts and accessories to ensure minimal shortage of stocks, the 15,000 square-feet showroom on the ground level holds a diverse range of products, information and data to suit varying customer needs. Here, you will find numerous brands such as J’S Racing, Carbing, C-West, RS-R, Billion, Tanabe, Bride, Seidoya, Dixcel, Nismo, Defi’s, Yokohama Advan, Volk Racing, Weds Sports, SS-R, MCR, Southside Performance, Cosworth, AMS Performance, Okuyama and Aero Catch.
BUILDING RACE-SPECIFIED ENGINES & CARS
For enthusiasts, Garage R is capable of building the entire car for track use from chassis to engine, suspension, balance of car, cornering weight, wiring loom to electronics. Their team of engineers is equipped with the expertise and knowledge to develop chassis suited for different types of racing requirements – from circuit racing and drag racing, to drifting and rallying. After building the car for maximum racing pleasure, after-race car maintenance is provided too.
Building cars for a living, it is essential that they constantly improve their skills. One of the best ways to gain this experience and knowledge is to compete in races. Customers have confidence as the people who are working on their cars daily are the same people behind the winning car at races.
Being active in racing and having achieved success, they are able to fully understand the various challenges and needs of both a driver and a team. Developing and building their own cars, providing their own technical support and pit crew, as well as training and managing their own team of drivers are all part of what they do when they race.
Team HKS Garage R Racing has earned esteemed credibility in motorsports with their extensive experience in race participation across the region. Their impressive portfolio includes competition in drag races, drifting, sprints, rallies and circuit races like Time Attacks and endurance races. For example, in their four outings at the 12-hour Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race, they made it to the podium all four times without fail, even winning in our class in 2009 as the fastest Honda of the race (most number of laps).
They were also recently chosen to be the exclusive distributor in Singapore and Malaysia for French racewear manufacturer Stand21, a well-known and distinguished brand in the world of racing that promotes the safety of drivers in motorsports greatly.
By the end of the visit, I was truly fascinated by the passion and dedication the people at Garage R have for their work. There is a slight general misconception that Garage R only caters to high performance cars but that came along as a result of their successes at the race tracks.
However, this was proven untrue when I sent my basic Mitsubishi Lancer GLX in for them to service at an affordable price of about $135. The drive of my car improved significantly after being fed good stuff like HKS engine oil and a change of oil filter along with a thorough series of checks and changes.
In a competitive industry with the challenges of today, Garage R remains committed to consistently deliver the highest quality of automotive services, with personalised and dedicated attitudes and state-of-the-art technology in a professional and conducive environment.
The marriage between HKS and Garage R
Starting out as an importer and exporter of automotive parts and accessories, Garage R gradually began merchandising performance aftermarket car parts, before developing tuning packages, importing and building high performance cars, and also distributing aftermarket car parts and winning races.
In 1999, Garage R secured the exclusive distributorship for HKS (Japanese automotive aftermarket leader) before going on to do the same for several other prominent brands such as Carbing, Okuyama, ARC, RS-R, Billion, Cosworth and Aero Catch.
HKS pioneered the Japanese aftermarket performance industry with constant innovation of new products, including the first commercially available electronic turbo timer and boost controller, as well as the piggy-back fuel computers and sophisticated fuel management tools.
As the only HKS Technical Factory outside of Japan, Garage R was appointed this honour in 2008, in tandem with the official opening ceremony of their new premises at Tagore Industrial Avenue.
The relationship between HKS and Garage R go beyond just supplier and distributor – Garage R works closely with HKS to develop products and solutions for cars especially in Southeast Asian markets so as to acclimatise the cars in this region for better performance.
*This was first published in Best Car Singapore.