Everyone we meet seems to be talking of ‘remapping’ or ‘modding’ these days. For the uninitiated, this is not about mapping unchartered territory, per se. It is all about tweaking one’s set of wheels to make it look different, perform better or simply, adding the wow factor.
CH tries to delve a little deeper into what the buzz is all about. A freewheeling chat over the phone with Mr. Azrif of Super Bee turns out to be informative and interesting. He confirms that there is indeed a boom in the business, a heightened interest in getting one’s car ‘modded’ or ‘remapped’. He attributes this to the young generation’s urge to flaunt their style.
Azrif opines that eighty per cent of the time, people simply want to enhance the looks or physical appearance of the cars. Beyond aesthetics though, there is an art and science behind it, about which unfortunately most are not educated. A good ‘remap’ can exponentially better the performance of a car. A well done modification can reduce drag and increase mileage. The emphasis should not solely be on juicing up the performance of the vehicle. It is imperative that the drivability of the vehicle and its suitability to the owner’s needs are safeguarded.
He states categorically that one should understand the client’s needs and use of the automobile before going to work on it. An ill-advised remap could make a car unsuitable for everyday use on public roads. At the same time, a well thought out remap could make the automobile more suitable to the clients’ needs, say, like for frequent, long drives through mountainous terrain.
His love for the job, the cars and excitement of the possibilities it offers, permeates his words. Coming from a family of established timber merchants, he recounts the reservations his family harboured against his venturing into the field of automobiles. After securing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he initially joined his father to learn the ropes of the business. He spent a few years learning the trade and more valuably, the practical aspects of running a business.
But, the longing to enter the field of automobiles, persisted. Azrif liquidated some of his assets, dipped into his savings and set out into the fascinating world of remaps, restorations, racing by setting up Super Bee.
Interestingly, Super Bee is a name that would be familiar to car lovers the world over. From 1967 to ‘73, GM ran a special performance division by the same name. They muscled up street cars into performance enhanced vehicles according to customer requests. The oil crisis that hit America in the ‘70’s led to the shutdown of the division.
Putting his training in business to good use, Azrif started importing parts and accessories with the capital he had raised. With help from local garages, he started working, mostly on his friends’ cars and bikes. In a few months time, he had convinced his father to lend him a property in Thammanam, Kochi, where he could set up shop. Again, Azrif did something out of the ordinary. Super Bee is not just a garage or workshop.
The small building on the property was converted into something along the lines of a small museum cum showroom space. Setting up a workshop is an arduous task. It requires a thorough understanding of the jobs that will be carried out in the space and safety requirements. Aware that nothing can beat hands on experience, Azrif worked at a local garage as an apprentice mechanic for six months while the registration and paperwork of Super Bee was being completed. Having found his footing in the industry, Azrif is gearing up to launch a second, bigger and better garage and showroom facility, at Edappally, Kochi, soon. With 3 car lifts and a larger display area, one is certain to be treated to more eye candy here.
Elaborating on the work Super Bee does, he insists that the most exciting part is customising and developing solutions for the clients, be it maps or exhausts. He does not follow the ‘cut, copy, paste’ or ‘bolt on’ method, preferring instead to create maps, which is not often done in Kerala. The team here have devised special packages that offer work on suspension, exhausts, remaps and the like. The idea is to give clients something they will not easily find elsewhere. This is most likely why customers send copious referrals, and entrust the maintenance and upkeep of their cars to the dedicated team at Super Bee.
Azrif states that a good mod need not mean big bucks. He deliberately works with mid-segment cars, ensuring enhanced performance at pocket friendly budgets. Being a direct importer and wholesale dealer gives him an advantage when it comes to keeping costs down. He is a nationwide dealer for brands such as Triple S suspension, Magnaflow exhausts, Yellow Speed racing coilovers, Simota Air filters besides other niche wheels and accessories.
He sounds almost surprised while stating that he has worked with clients from all over India. Azrif credits the power of social media, especially his Facebook page, in taking Super Bee places. Passionate about restoring automobiles, he has sourced parts for clients in Bangalore and Mumbai. He is thrilled that he could help with the restoration of two 123 Mercedes cars, one in Mumbai and the other in Kottayam; a couple of Mazda Miata MX 5s and a W123 Mercedes Lambretta scooter.
Getting parts for a 2001 model Mini Cooper turned out to be quite a challenge. British cars are not entirely suitable for our weather, he rues. For his own pleasure, he is working on putting right a 1984 model Nissan Cherry.
Meanwhile, Super Bee is running some interesting projects as well. They are running trials on a Honda Brio, by adding a turbo to a non turbo petrol engine and also experimenting with putting in a separate ECU during remapping.
Excited at the possibilities, this national level motorsport enthusiast says that the ‘serious side’ of the automotive industry is something else altogether. And what might that be? we ask. Cars designed and built to race, to perform under utterly severe conditions. In his most recent outing at the FMSCI in his souped-up Honda City Type 2, Azrif missed the podium finish by a whisker.
While delightedly sharing stories of his six races, he lets it slip that his dream is to design and build a fleet of hybrid cars and bikes, for the racetrack. On being pressed for details, Azrif impishly states, ‘It’s a long term plan. Wait and watch’.