Sunday, February 19, 2012

Liputan TIG 11 - The Jakarta Globe, 19 Feb 2012

Indonesia's Family Off-Road of Super Troopers 

Oleh: Tasa Nugraza Barley
For almost 10 years, Komunitas Trooper Indonesia (Indonesian Trooper Community) has attracted automotive fans from around the country eager to find muddy trails for their four-wheel drive vehicles and to share sentimental experiences from their unique rides.

Wahyu Edi Widodo, who owns a 1989 diesel Trooper and works as a stockbroker in Jakarta, was just trying to find some information about spare parts for his old Trooper when he stumbled upon the community.   He soon realized that the community had something more to offer through its regular off-road events. “I found out that this community was a perfect place for me to make new friends,” he said.

The Trooper series was first produced by the Japanese automaker Isuzu in 1981, and quickly became popular for its masculine design and tough engine performance. The Trooper has been produced by several major manufacturers under different names, including the Chevrolet Trooper, Subaru Bighorn and Honda Horizon. Isuzu stopped producing the icon in 2005. The Trooper was popular in the United States among soccer moms, but the vehicle’s four-wheel drive prowess has had a long-lasting impact among mud-hungry off-road fans.

Formed in 2002, Komunitas Trooper Indonesia has more than 700 active members, with more than 1,800 people on its mailing list. This unofficially makes the group one of the biggest automotive communities in Indonesia, with chapters in 14 cities, including Pekanbaru, Palembang, Bogor, Bandung, Banjarnegara and Denpasar.

Bobby Febriansyah, or Obenk to his friends, said the sense of brotherhood compelled him to join the community. Obenk, who is a businessman by day, said being a member of Komunitas Trooper Indonesia was all about having fun. “When members meet up, what we do is talk and laugh together,” he said. Obenk said the Jakarta chapter met almost every week. Under the slogan, “In God We Trust, In Troopers We Ride,” the troops of Komunitas Trooper Indonesia often hold public events centering on (you guessed it) their cars.

The group’s biggest event is the Trooper Indonesia Gathering, where members from all the chapters in the country come together. The community’s 11th annual gathering was recently held at the Kiara Payung campsite in Jatinangor, West Java, around New Year’s. More than 150 Troopers were in attendance. The event’s theme was “Family Camp,” and encouraged members to bring along their spouses and children for a variety of family-themed activities. The dads held an informal off-road competition while their kids played games.

Obenk said he was excited to meet members from other chapters. “I was so touched to see so many members coming from faraway cities,” he said. “It was so much fun, even better than office gatherings I used to participate in.” Both Wahyu and Obenk called the Trooper a very reliable car. “I like owning a Trooper because it’s both strong and comfortable,” Wahyu said. Obenk said that the Trooper was the kind of car that he could take everywhere, from the jungle to the mean streets of Jakarta. “I can take it for an adventure as well as a family trip to the mall,” he said. Full of praise for his beloved Trooper, Wahyu said the car was fuel-efficient and that its exterior would never be outdated. Wahyu said his four-wheel drive, high-clearance Trooper was perfect for Jakarta, whose roads often resemble rugged off-road trails. Behind the wheel of his four-wheel ride, Wahyu said he was not at all worried about the threat of floods. Obenk, who owns three Troopers from the 1980s, said maintaining the vehicles was surprisingly simple. “Trooper cars are easy to maintain, unlike many other cars,” he said. And although his Troopers are considered old, Obenk said spare parts were cheap and easy to find.

Komunitas Trooper Indonesia has some ambitious and community-oriented goals for this year. Members, for example, say they want to be in a constant state of readiness in case they are called on to assist in a natural disaster. The Jakarta chapter also organizes social events, including automotive coaching clinics for the public. Wahyu said the community wanted to create even more events that would have a positive impact on other people who also trust in God, and ride in Troopers.

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