Monday, 24 July 2017

More than an old car #28: Singer Chamois

Small cars are getting popular again given the limited land space here and the rise of nuclear families. Furthermore, small family cars are of course cheaper than large-sized sedans. However, this 1965 Singer Chamois would not look out of place on today's roads!

Singer Motors Limited was founded by George Singer in 1875, where it started out making bicycles and motorcycles. It moved to car manufacturing in 1905, where it was later bought over by the Rootes Group in 1955. However, the Rootes Group was later bought over by Chrysler Group in 1971 and the Singer name became defunct.

The Singer Chamois is actually a 'badge-engineered' version of the Hillman Imp. Badge-engineering is the process of putting a different brand to an existing product and selling it as something different. The Hillman Imp was first introduced in 1963, where it possessed unique innovations such as having the engine at the back of the car, a fold-able back seat and a rear window opening as seen in the second picture. It was marketed as a potential second car for families, and this was helped by how cheap it was back then. Although it enjoyed success as a rally car, it was plagued with many problems such as overheating.

The Singer Chamois was powered by a 875cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 125km/h and an acceleration of 25.6 seconds [0-60mph]. It was 3.58m long and weighed 711kg. Only around 49,000 were produced under the Singer brand and this specimen is the only one left in Singapore. It is currently owned by well-known classic car restorer David Chan and some may recognise his garage in the background. He has owned the car since the 1960s and it still has its original number plate. This is a real pieced of automotive history and I hope future generations will not forget that such cool cars exist!

Monday, 17 July 2017

More than an old car #27: Jaguar XJ6

Previously, I covered the SS Jaguar and I am sure that most of you would be aware of the Jaguar brand as well ie the car driven by rich businessmen. Although older Jags are a rarity in Singapore, they do pop up every now and then. This 1971 Jaguar XJ6 4.2 Litre is a prime example of a car that remains timeless in its design.

The 1st series of the Jaguar XJ was introduced in 1968, with input from former Jaguar chairman Sir William Lyons. The XJ series remains popular throughout its lifespan even until today, but surprisingly Jaguar was hindered by the XJ's success to expand to other models. This specimen was powered by a 4235cc XK 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 191km/h and an acceleration of 9.2 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.81m long and weighed 1676kg.

Production ended in 1973 with 59,077 produced in the 4.2 Litre variant. It has been well-known for its effective braking and good ride quality, and at least 3 still exist on our roads. This ride has unfortunately fallen into disuse--the first picture was taken back in 2013 while you can see the various rust spots on the second picture. I hope the owner will continue to maintain it for future generations!

Monday, 10 July 2017

More than an old car #26: BMW E21 320

BMW is a common name known to everyone--it can either mean the car itself or the self-deprecatory 'Bus, MRT, Walk'. There are a myriad of models being produced and I believe some of you are driving one. As with all older cars, they are subjected to the government's restrictions and some of you may recall the well-loved E30 series that are still present here. However, this 1982 BMW E21 320 is often described as 'forgotten', mainly because they remain rather obscure till today.

The E21 was the first generation of the 3-Series [eg 318i, 320i... in today's context]. It was designed to be the successor of the 02 Series and was unveiled to the public in 1975. The E21 had the trademark 'kidney grilles' standing out from the front and the wedge-shaped car was unusual at that time. The centre console and the dashboard were curved towards the driver, and this design still remains in all of BMW's cars today. It was equipped with a 1990cc BMW M20 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 181km/h and an acceleration of 10.7 seconds [0-100km/h]. The E21 320 was 4.36m long and weighed 1090kg.

Production ended in 1983 with more than 1.3 million made, of which around 390,000 was the 320 model. This specimen is currently the only one left in Singapore, as I have never come across another one. The owner has maintained it well and surprisingly it still has a normal plate. It does projects a unique image compared to the cookie-cutter designs present today, and I hope the owner continues to keep this antique running!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

More than an old car #25: Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and Bentley T1

Rolls-Royce [RR] and Bentley have always been associated with the super-rich who prefer something more eye-catching than a normal Ferrari. Drop by any luxury hotel in Marina Bay and you are bound to see at least one. However, older models are even rarer, partly due to the COE system and that it remains as expensive as ever to own and maintain them. This makes the above 1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 1 and the 1975 Bentley T1 even more exquisite in its own right.

RR was founded in 1904 by Charles Steward Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce, which started out making luxury cars and airplane engines. It quickly established a reputation for superior engineering quality. Bentley Motors was founded by Walter Owen Bentley in 1919, and RR acquired Bentley in 1931. After a series of further acquisitions, both RR and Bentley are currently owned by BMW. Strictly speaking, RR cars currently are not made by RR themselves as only the aerospace branch remains.

Production of the Silver Shadow began in 1965, with 2 generations made when production ended in 1980. Initially, it was supposed to be called 'Silver Mist', but the name was changed after it was realised that 'mist' is German for manure/rubbish. It was the first RR vehicle to adopt a 'unibody' construction [car body and floor are produced together as one unit]. The Silver Shadow 1 was equipped with a 6750cc L410 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 193km/h, with an acceleration of 11 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.17m long and weighed 2108kg.

The Bentley T1 was technically an identical twin of the Silver Shadow, except that its front grille was simpler and lighter. The logo on the wheels and the front was of course different. It also had a 6750cc L410 8-cylinder engine, but with a lower top speed of 183km/h and an acceleration of 10.2 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.17m long and weighed 2100kg.

Only 16,717 Silver Shadow 1s and 1703 Bentley T1s were made. What I found rather unique for this Silver Shadow specimen above is its rather old number plate. That is certainly not original, as the 916th vehicle to be registered in Singapore would have been in the 1950s. The owner must have liked it so much that he/she retained the original plate, although with the red-yellow background. I have seen quite a number of Silver Shadow 1s in Singapore [they are there if you look hard enough], but this Bentley T1 specimen seems to be the only one here. It has been imported from the UK, but it has not been moved for quite a few years already. I don't know what the buyer plans to do with it, but hopefully he can recognise its rarity and let it grace our roads.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

More than an old car #24: Chevrolet Corvette C3

American classics are even more rare than the usual Ferraris and Lamborghinis here, given that GM did not establish a presence in the Asian market. This 1977 Chevrolet Corvette C3 5.7L is a sight to behold even though it is not native to Singapore.

The Corvette C3 is the 3rd generation of Corvette cars made by Chevrolet from 1968-1982. Its name is derived from the smallest class of warships known as a 'corvette'. Designing started in 1964 with the release of the Mako Shark 2 concept, which was ironically leaked by Hot Wheels when they released a toy car model. It was powered by a 5733cc Chevrolet Small-Block 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 174km/h with an acceleration of 9.3 seconds (0-100km/h). For the 1977 model, it was 4.7m long and weighed 1605kg.

More than 540,000 C3s were produced, of which almost 50,000 were produced in 1977 alone. However, it is worth noting that all models were left-hand drive. This specimen was imported from Australia, where it underwent a right-hand drive conversion. There are currently 3 C3s in Singapore, one red and one blue in colour. Corvettes have become the icon of Chevrolet and it is heartening to know that there are people who are still passionate about these uncommon classics!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

More than an old car #23: MG YA

This MG YA calls up images of the 1950s as seen in various black-and-white films from that era. Just by looking at it, you may get the feeling of a rich British gentleman calling the shots as he patrols around his estate. It continues to exude its classiness even until today.

The MG Y-Type was thought of back in 1939, but due to the war, production had to be put on hold until 1947. No effort was spared in designing the interior--the seats were all leather and the trim was wooden such as the door window frames. The headlights were also separately mounted even when most cars were integrating the headlights with the front frame. It also had a front 'suicide door', where the door hinge was fitted at the back instead of towards the front. The name came about due to the higher risk of injury when people got in or out of the car. The YA was powered by a 1250cc XPAG 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 115km/h with an acceleration of 33.5 seconds. It was 4.09m long and weighed 1034kg.

Production ended in 1953 with 2 generations of Y-Types produced, of which only 6,131 were YAs like the one in the picture. Based on my knowledge, there are probably around 5 examples here. This specimen could have been present here before Singapore became independent, and the owner could have gotten it registered later on. It is quite surprising that it is still running on normal plates given how old the car is, so the owner must be really passionate about his ride. You should be able to spot it easily--its unique shape gives it away!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

More than an old car #22: Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Alfa Romeo cars are instantly recognizable by the triangular-shaped grille with its logo inside it. It is relatively common on our roads--you or your parents may have driven one before. Yet, this 1983 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 [Tipo 116] is not something you will get to see here often.

Alfa Romeo, an Italian car maker, initially started out surprisingly as a French firm [Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID)] in 1906 which was backed by Italian investors. The company came under the direction of entrepreneur Nicola Romeo in 1915 and was subsequently renamed A.L.F.A Romeo--a combination of the original name "Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili" and the last name of Nicola Romeo. It is now owned by the conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles since 2007. 

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta was launched in 1977 and production ended in 1985, with around 380,000 made. The 'Tipo 116' [Type 116] refers to this particular generation as there was a previous model which was called the Giulietta also. This specimen was equipped with a 1570cc Alfa Romeo Twin Cam 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 175km/h with an acceleration of 11.3 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.21m long and weighed 1070kg. It may look similar to many cars in the 1980s, but a defining difference was the short car boot length and a small aerodynamic spoiler that was merged in the car body. 

Only 2 currently exist here as far as I know and it seems the owner has preserved it ever since it was bought here, due to the period-correct number plate. These older cars do have a higher chance of breaking down and having this specimen survive until today is an achievement. You can consider it your lucky day if you see this in person!