Handcrafted Excellence: Gerry Khouri Talks About The Bold & Beautiful Bufori

Gerry looks back on nearly 40 years of building unique and rare pieces of automotive art, even as he looks forward to the next phase of the Malaysia marque.
text by Yvonne Yoong

There are probably quite a few of us who remember the uproar that greeted Bufori’s brash and unapologetic advertisement from the 1990s. Such was the public backlash – and this in the days before the advent of social media – that the advert, featuring the late Samantha Schubert, was quickly pulled from the TV screens.


Gerry Khouri, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bufori Motor Car Company

Gerry Khouri, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bufori Motor Car Company, remembers the episode all too well. “That particular TV spot was aired in 1995 and was taken off after three weeks following protests from feminist groups,” he recalls. Grey Malaysia was the advertising agency in charge back then and its Creative Director, the late Jerry McKenna, came up with the idea, which was in line with the advertising trend of “violence, horror, sex and counterculture” of the 1990s,” he told The Peak in an exclusive interview.

However, “everything was planned and calculated” to the last detail to create publicity. Grey Malaysia, being one of the more prominent advertising agencies back then, had in fact expected the outrage and had a back-up commercial ready.

“It (the strategy) seemed to have worked as many Malaysians still remember the advert and it is still used as a reference in marketing literature,” he said, adding that the strategy worked wonders as sales shot up after that. Still, looking back, it was staggeringly calculated move on the part of a relatively young auto manufacturer (Bufori was founded by Khouri and his brothers Anthony and George in 1986).

That said, what is even more impressive is how Bufori has continued to thrive – and grow – in the time since that infamous advert. As a brand, it continues to be acknowledged within an exclusive crème de la crème circle of luxury car connoisseurs, who know exactly what they want in the niche luxury car segment.

“We have since started to build cars to international standards and exporting them to more than 40 countries around the world, and introduced new models such as the Bufori Geneva,” Khouri said. Besides intensifying its car restoration services, which Bufori has been offering since its inception, the manufacturer has also expanded its business to aviation interiors.

“Our cars and services cater to individuals who appreciate the finer things in life – people who share our passion for outstanding craftsmanship and automotive technology,” he explained. “There is no clear definition of our customer demographics, other than the fact that they like our cars and philosophy. Our customer base is, in fact, very diverse. You would find the typical billionaire, car collector, professionals and even the average person who saved his whole life to afford his dream Bufori. We also have a growing number of female customers who have a particular appreciation for the classic Bufori styling.”


Bufori AIRA Gold Geneva 14v2

A Bufori, Khouri explained, “is not just a means of transporting you from point A to point B, but more a statement and showcase of the owner’s unique personality, transferred into the specification and customisation of the car. Anyone can walk into a showroom and buy a mass-produced premium car. To buy a Bufori, you need to come and meet us, specify your car, and wait for a whole year while we handcraft it. Our customers seek uniqueness, beauty and quality.”

While there is a hefty price tag attached to a Bufori – the Bufori Geneva is around MYR2.2 million on the road and the upcoming Bufori CS sports car will retail at around MYR1.3 million – what you get in return is a fully handcrafted and customised car built to international standards.

The Bufori luxury saloon is typically equipped with a fridge, massage seats and electric seatback trays, while extravagant features like an automatic perfume dispenser, using the customer’s favourite scent, is child’s play to install. The starry night headliner, made with 700 fibre optic strands, can also be customised to represent the star alignment of a special event’s date, time and location. In fact, customisation stretches as far as your imagination goes, ensuring that every Bufori that rolls out of the assembly line is completely unique.

In an age of challenges and changes, all Bufori has done is to stay true to its philosophy and listen to customer feedback. The Bufori La Joya, for example, was introduced after customers asked for a coupé style car, while the Bufori Geneva started development following a request from a high-profile customer. It’s the same from the soon-to-be- unveiled contemporary styled Bufori CS sports car.

All Bufori models, however, share the same philosophy of handcraftsmanship, customisation and quality. “During the customisation process, we try to understand the owner, his hobbies, habits and character. When completed, the car is like an extension of his unique and distinct personality,” Khouri said. “At the end, the Bufori is a unique and rare piece of automotive art, built to the exact requirements of the owner.”

In this light, especially during an age where there is growing demand for uniqueness, sales have continuously grown at Bufori. Even during the pandemic, Bufori was surprised by the increased interest from locals. “Until then, 95% of our cars were exported but, after the pandemic, the share of domestic sales actually rose,” Khouri said.


With interest in Bufori at unprecedented heights, Khouri is hopeful that the Bufori CS8 will mark the start of a new era for the marque. The Bufori CS8 will become the most powerful Malaysian production car ever, with 750hp coming from a supercharged 6.4l V8 engine. Despite that, it has been designed as a practical daily drive with large luggage space.

“The interior will be sporty yet luxurious and comfortable, with a mix of exposed carbon fibre and leather. We can’t wait to launch this car. We are also working on a Bufori Geneva Coupé with gullwing doors, which will be a very sporty interpretation of the elegant Geneva. There are many other projects we are working on, but I don’t want to reveal too much at this point,” he said.


CS script carbon fiber


CS Seat details

While describing himself as “very hands-on guy who tries to lead by example” and that there isn’t anything in the workings of the factory that he couldn’t do himself, Khouri is content to rely on his team these days. His vision of Bufori being an internationally trusted and recognised luxury marque, however, remains unchanged.

“We are demonstrating that world-class luxury cars are not only produced in Europe. We have indeed made great strides since we started the company in 1986, and we are marching on, one car or project at a time.”

Photography Law Soo Phye & Bufori
This story first published on The Peak Malaysia December Issue.

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