In search of better Auto Options
I’ve been in the motoring beat for the last 14 years (and counting). But I’ve been into cars much longer, particularly tuning and modding cars. The aftermarket holds a special place in my heart, which is why I always make an effort to know the latest tuning trends.
I started out with low-slung, fast and furious tuned cars. But my taste in cars and tuning evolves, following the latest motoring, traffic and consumer trends. Which is why a few years back, I got myself a Toyota FJ Cruiser, to understand this segment of the market, to see the latest trends and be abreast of all tuning-related issues in this segment.
As any wise consumer would be, I researched far and wide on various parts and accessories available for the FJ Cruiser. With a recommendation from some common friends, I came upon Auto Options and checked out their store, previously located at 86-B Timog Ave., Barangay South Triangle, Quezon City. As it turns out, the family-run business, which has been around since 1989 and led by Alex Sia, are regular readers of my articles both here and in Top Gear. A friendship was struck, and additionally, Alvin, Alex’s oldest son and I shared a lot of common friends.
Through Alex and Alvin, I found a very good idea on the biggest available wheel and tire package that would fit my FJ without compromising all-road/all-weather performance. They recommended other products I might like, not necessarily from their own product line-up. And through their recommendation, I was able to try out the latest in hybrid tire technology offering the best of both worlds. Pricey tires, but you pay for quality, reliability and performance for sure!
The 4×4/SUV/pick-up segment has grown immensely, and Auto Options has grown with the market as well. But to cope with the projected increase and demand for all things 4X4/off-road, and to help professionalize the business further, Auto Options took a big leap and moved locations to a bigger and better facility, just a few meters away from their old Timog Ave., with a new address at 21 Timog Ave., literally a stone’s throw-away from their old facility. I attended their grand opening last June 3 and the event was packed with car enthusiasts, the media and Auto Options’ dealers from as far as Bacolod down south and Pangasinan up north.
The new facility now serves as a showcase for all the products they bring in, as a training center for new products and services and to house their growing personnel. As a side business, the brand is also offering suspension upgrades for their customers, namely Bilstein, Dobinson Suspension and Tough Dog, all trusted names in the aftermarket 4X4/off-road suspension industry.
Auto Option’s main focus is importation and distribution after all, but the enthusiast spirit remains strong with them so not only is the family very hands-on, but are just as excited to be talking about cars and tuning, hence the expansive display area and customer lounge. Today, Auto Options has 14 dealers nationwide, from Mindanao all the way to Northern Luzon.
Auto Options initially started catering to American muscle cars, of which Alex Sia has a strong affinity for, particularly the Ford Mustang. American Racing was their first big brand to distribute, popular with the muscle car crowd. From there, American Racing was acquired by Wheel Pros, which today is the largest aftermarket wheel manufacturer in the world, selling millions of wheels annually.
Under the Wheel Pros umbrella, the group manufactures a variety of brands for different applications which include, sports cars, sedans, SUVs, pick-ups, 4X4s and recently, power sports /UTV/ ATV and golf carts. Some of their most iconic brands include American Racing, KMC, Asanti, Rockstar, ATX, Motegi Racing, XD Series and more. The group has both cast and forged wheels, as well as road-legal wheels and motorsports wheels, being a popular supplier for the Baja desert races, Le Mans, Indycar, GT3 racing, Formula D and so on. Auto Options carries all these wheel brands, plus the Dick Cepek line of tires, again another popular American tire brand. The Dick Cepek line of tires is predominantly all-terrain and off-road tires, but in their bid to increase product appeal, the brand is now developing hybrid tires: tires that have an aggressive off-road tread block /pattern, but utilize a special compound formulation which allows these mud-terrain and all-terrain tires to be just as effective on paved surfaces and wet roads. Previously, off-road tires were like race tires: immense grip in their intended use and surface, but hazardous on wet paved roads. Thanks to hybrid technology, many consumers and avid off-road enthusiasts are now enjoying the best of both worlds. For the more cost-conscious segment of the market, Auto Options also imports and distributes Rydanz Tires, a brand engineered in Europe while being made in China. Lastly, the group also brings in Husky Liners, a line of all-weather, digital-cut, exact fit rubber mats which really help keep your interior clean. Handy if you do off-roading regularly, own a dog or haul a lot of equipment on a regular basis.
Wheel Pros was represented by Corey Kiesel, the group’s International Director and was one of the special guests at the ribbon-cutting alongside former PNP Gen. Richard Albano and TV personality James Deakin.
SUVs, 4X4s and other light commercial trucks and vehicles are here to stay, slowly accounting for almost half of the total market each year, and it will only get bigger, as Filipinos find ways to cope with adverse road and weather conditions, plus embracing an active outdoor lifestyle and booming local tourism. Shops like Auto Options are critical in the continued growth and success of this segment in the industry, offering high-quality products, sound technical advice and for car guys like you and me, a place to hang-out and pass the time on a slow day.
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