Pinky Banditos — Indonesia's First Lowrider?
Words & Photography Luke Ray.
Holdens are pretty big in Indonesia. Along with Volkswagen Kombis, Toyota FJ40s and other iconic models, the ‘60s and ‘70s saw a large number of Holdens sold new across the country. So, naturally there are still plenty knocking around and each brand has a strong owner community, just like any other country in the world. What the Indonesians don’t have though is a particularly large American car culture. Of course, there is US muscle on the streets there, and some pretty cool customs in fact, but no where near as abundant as some of the genres and brands that were sold as the working-man’s car such as the one’s that I just mentioned.
So, when a young student from Solo has a vision for a custom lowrider, he has to think out of the box. There’s no lowrider car scene in Indonesia to speak of, so he can’t reference cars up close and there aren’t scores of Chevy Impalas, Buick Regals, or Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes to scoop up and work on.
Thinking on his feet, as most petrolheads in Indonesia have to do, Bintang worked to marry his interest in lowrider culture with what stock he had available to him in the local classifieds. We were so impressed with what he came up with, we awarded it the Fuel Magazine best of show at Kustomfest 2016. We liked the mix of Australian working ute combined with American lowrider culture as well as the ingenuity used to work through problems. For instance, look closely and you’ll see that the metallic paint, the fading and the pinstriping is all skillfully hand painted, but the photo based parts of the design are actually computer generated. It’s always fascinating to see how the Indonesian builders and artists overcome issues through a build and ‘Pinky Banditos’ is no exception.
What’s your name and what do you do?
Bintang Wijaya. I’m 21, a student, currently studying International relations in Solo, about 1 1/2 hours from Yogyakarta.
What are we looking at here?
This is a 1977 HQ ute with an HJ front. It’s a 3.3L straight six.
Where and when did you find the car?
I bought it from West Java in 2015.
In what condition was it?
The body had many problems and the engine wasn’t running. It wasn’t a great car back then, but it was suitable start for a project. It was a solid purple colour.
What did you do first?
Starting in August 2015, first we serviced the engine. I wanted to restore the original engine without modifications. The condition wasn't too bad so there was not a lot of work to do, it was mostly cleaning it up. Once the engine was complete we moved on to the chassis and then the body.
What was your original plan?
I wanted a lowrider style car from the beginning. I searched many images online, saving the ones that I thought were the most beautiful. These were then used during the painting process.
Let’s get straight into the paint. Who did the work?
The paint (except for the pinstriping) was all done by Yosafat Anggoro. Just the paint work alone took one year to do. He has a lot of experience painting lowrider bicycles. But this was his first time ever painting a car.
The images in the paint… what’s the process there?
The base coat was silver flake. The images were then printed and applied using ‘paper decals’. Then, airbrushing over the top. [Ed - Unfortunately the exact process for printing and applying the images to the paint was a little hard to understand perfectly during the interview. There was some pixelation evident under close inspection so there was some sort of digital printing process involved.]
The pinstriping was then done by Danny Hacka at Kustomfest. He also gave the car its Pinky Banditos name.
The interior and tray are wild! How did that come about?
My friend Benny trimmed it but he had not had experience with car interiors. He’s a furniture trimmer. So, I designed in the interior and gave him guidance using photos and inspiration that I found. It took around one month to complete all the interior and flat bed work. I chose all the colours and materials and worked with Benny on the design.
What about the grille and bumpers, are they hand engraved?
Yes, absolutely. The front grille and the bumpers are completely custom. I designed them but the engraving was all done by my friend Agus.
How long did that take?
It took him about a day to engrave each piece.
What’s the process?
He draws a pattern for everything first. He then removes the chrome, engraves the metal all by hand. Then re-chromes. He then lays down a thin layer of brass over the top of the whole thing and removes the brass over the high points of the patterns. The final effect is that the brass is only left in the negative space areas and the chrome comes through the brass for the high points of the patterns.
Is the project finished?
No, it’s still going. Next is the suspension of course. It’s not sitting like a lowrider should. I want to install airbags to get it nice and low. I won’t go as far as hydraulics I think, but bags to get it low is my intention. There are also some details that need attention all around the car. I wanted to get the car ready to show at Kustomfest 2016, so not everything could be done in time.
I’m undecided about the engine. At the moment I can’t decide whether to keep the original 6 or change it to a V8. I do have a V8 at home but I’m confused, I’m not sure what to choose!
So you built this car for the 2016 Kustomfest show?
Yes. I made this whole project just to display at Kustomfest. I wanted to have one of the first lowriders in Indonesia. In my opinion, Kustomfest is the best show in Indonesia for classic and custom.
What are the wheels?
18” Velg Luxor 100 spoke wire wheels. In Indonesia it is so hard to import parts like this, so my friend brought them in their luggage from the USA!
Is there a lowrider community in Indonesia?
There may be one or two cars in Jakarta, but that’s all I know of. However, there is a big lowrider bicycle scene here, they are very popular in Jakarta and Solo and I take inspiration from that side too.
This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 24.