Bufori cars: What makes the Malaysian luxury auto so special?
Bufori cars have emerged as one of the most sought-after luxury items among Asia's ultra-rich.
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"The beautiful thing is I get to see it built from the beginning to end, like watching a baby growing up," said Tan.Skip to next paragraph
Khouri, who built his first car in his backyard at only 21, says that while the Bufori kept its trademark classic designs, the cars' performance itself is "in a class of its own".
The Geneva, a 4-door luxury limousine with elegant curves and a long running board, is powered by a 6.4-litre V8 engine boasting up to 470 horsepower and 630 Newton meters (Nm) of torque.
"These are exclusive, very elite. You've got to be very special to own one of these cars," he said.
But Khouri admits that the long waiting list can push some customers to competitors such as Bentley and Rolls Royce.
"These cars are made by hand. No machines -- look around you, it's just people," he says, gesturing around the 50,000 square foot (4,645 square meter) factory in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur where workers are busy fitting custom-made parts and molding the Bufori's classic body.
Upstairs, in the upholstery and interior section, leather is cut and stitched by hand while engineers put together electronic controls.
"You can't speed up people like a machine," he added.
With around a hundred workers, the factory makes only 60 cars worldwide per annum -- a fraction of its 300 target, with the limited workforce and the long hours it takes to complete a car dragging down production.
"Our problem is our demand exceeds our capacity. We're not in the situation where we can produce enough vehicles to meet the demand worldwide," says Khouri.
"It sounds like a crazy problem to have - but it's serious because we are losing sales everyday."
Khouri wants to set up more factories to speed up production but is wary, wanting to preserve the quality.
"Bufori cars are very labor-intensive and dependent on people. We might compromise the quality which is something we don't want to do," he added.
The Bufori La Joya coupe takes 3,500 man hours to complete while the Geneva saloon needs 9,000 man hours.
"That's ridiculous in the overall scheme of things. If you look at a mass producer carmaker, even 50 man hours is taking too much," says Khouri.
But customers who chose to be patient have no regrets.
"It is worth the wait," says Tan, whose car took 20 months to finish. "It's more than a car. To me, the Bufori is an art."
(Reporting By Anuradha Raghu,; Editing by Elaine Lies)
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