25 December 2017
Mercedes has always been a dream car for many, including me. By now, you would have deduced that my dream car has to be older than 1990, and yet practical enough to take it for a spin. This 1959 Mercedes W121 190 SL is one that I can only imagine being in my possession.
Mercedes-Benz as we know today was formed as a result of a merger between 2 companies in 1926: Benz & Companie Rheinishce Gasmotoren-Fabrik [founded by Karl Benz and others in 1883] and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft [founded by Gottlieb Daimler in 1890]. The Mercedes name is Spanish for "godsend" and was the name of a buyer's daughter. Its three-pointed star logo signifies the company's goal of developing engines for "land, water and air". After the war, Mercedes focused its efforts on producing vehicles that would wow the world many times over, along with the buses that has served many of us today.
The 190 SL [with internal designation W121] arose as a result of pressure by Max Hoffman, the US importer of European cars. He desired a street version of the famous 300 SL and both cars appeared at the New York Auto Show in 1954. Perennially overshadowed by its more famous sister and lacking in power in comparison, it was relatively ignored back then. However, as prices of the 300 SL can easily exceed $1 million nowadays, the 190 SL has returned to the fore as a cheaper alternative for Mercedes' exquisite design.
The 190 SL did not excel on the track and was seen as a "lifestyle car for the road". However, it had an aesthetically pleasing styling with its aerodynamic bullet-shape, down to the "eyebrows" over the wheel arches. This car is the less vivacious, yet beautiful girl unnoticed by many, for a lack of better comparison. It was powered by a 1897cc inline-4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 180km/h with an acceleration of 12.7 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.22m and weighed 1140kg.
Production ended in 1963 with 25,881 made, of which only 562 were in RHD. Surprisingly, I have seen at least 5 on our roads, which is 1% of the entire RHD population! It has a very unique style that is unfortunately not seen in cars today. The 190 SL is also associated with notable celebrities such as designer Karl Lagerfeld [who crashed it into a tree], Prince Rainier of Monaco and Beatle Ringo Starr. Although it may not be as sporty as the 300 SL, you could imagine yourself behind the wheel and enjoying the wind in your face. It set the groundwork for Mercedes to produce cars that never fail to captivate us along with the ubiquitous star. Do keep a lookout for them and appreciate the beauty of German engineering!
18 December 2017
It is quite interesting to see that quite a number of classic cars here tend to pay homage to our British colonial roots--Minis, MGs and Triumphs make up the bulk of our classic car heritage. Among them, it includes this less prominent gem that is the 1965 Triumph TR4A.
The TR4A was based off the original TR4, which was produced between 1961-1965. The main difference between them was the type of suspension system--TR4s utilised a "Hotchkiss drive" suspension, currently used by SUVs today while TR4As used an "independent rear suspension" system, which is used by most cars today. Other changes included a revised grille and a new hood badge. It was powered by a 2138cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 175km/h. It was 3.96m long and weighed 1016kg.
Production of the TR4A stopped in 1967, with only 28,465 made. I don't say this often, but I really love the Royal Blue [Code 56] paint scheme--it really accentuates the curves on this little British car and the cream interior. I hope you have the chance to capture this on our roads!
11 December 2017
Throughout my years of spotting, I have been pleasantly surprised to see quite a number of old BMWs on the roads. Once a while, I am treated to rare sights such as this 1973 BMW E9 3.0 CS!
The BMW New Six CS, or internally known as the E9, was a two-door coupe produced in 1968. It was based on the previous 2000 CS model, except that it was longer so as to accommodate the new, larger engine. The slight forward slope at the front made it visually pleasing to look at, even though it didn't really help with the aerodynamics. Various types of the E9 were made, such as the 2800 CS, 3.0 CSi and the 3.0 CSL. The 3.0 CS was introduced in 1971, where it was powered by a 2986cc M30 6-cylinder engine. As a result, it could reach a top speed of 200km/h, with an acceleration of 8.5 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.66m long and weighed 1440kg.
Production of the E9 stopped in 1975. Throughout its lifetime, it performed very well in different championship races to the point that it has become a well-known classic. Although it was highly desirable by many, the steep price it commanded was a turn-off. Of the whole range, only 4455 were 3.0 CS models. I am aware of at least 3 other models that exist here. Apparently, this car has its registration number changed between the 2 years since I last saw it. It's quite heartening to know that the owner is still continuing to keep this handsome lad on our roads!
7 December 2017
Fiat is not a foreign name to most people here, but certainly not a brand which you would think of immediately when mentioning about Italian cars. It has a long pedigree of popular vehicles for the masses, including this pristine 1975 Fiat 130 Coupe.
Gianni Agnelli, along with several investors, founded the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino [Italian Automobile Factory of Turin] in 1899. The 'Fiat' name was only in use from 1906. It became, and still is, the largest automobile factory in Italy since 1910. Fiat enjoyed much success in both Italy and abroad such as the US. In 2014, Fiat and Chrysler merged to form the Fiat Chrysler Automotive [FCA] conglomerate. As a result, brands like Alfa Romeo and Jeep are produced under the FCA flagship.
The Fiat 130 Coupe was based off the main Fiat 130 sedan, and was first manufactured in 1971. Back then, the sedan Fiat 130s were quite popular as it was marketed as a luxury car. The coupe version was designed by Paolo Martin from the Pininfarina design house, and it turned out to be quite different from the sedan version. As with cars of that period, it was quite boxy, yet you would be able to discern the subtle hints of fluidity in motion. It was powered by a 3235cc 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 195 km/h and an acceleration of 9.2 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4.84 m long and weighed 1555 kg, which was rather hefty back then.
Production of the 130 Coupe stopped in 1977, with close to 4500 made. However, only around 500 were made in RHD configuration. This is the only one registered on our roads, although I have seen another unregistered one with automatic transmission. I was fortunate to be able to go up close to this unlikely rarity during a classic car exhibition and the rumble of the V6 is a rare sound to our ears these days, due to the shift towards hybrid cars. It may look terribly unremarkable, but you would be hard-pressed to not imagine a well-dressed person behind the wheel!
3 November 2017
Mention 'luxury cars' and the usual brands pop up eg Mercedes, Ferrari etc. Some more knowledgeable enthusiasts may then remember Maserati, or the car with a trident. Although its modern offerings are well-known, I believe not many would associate it with a classic vehicle such as this 1989 Maserati Biturbo 222 here.
Maserati was founded in 1912 by the Maserati brothers: Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto. The trident logo is based on the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna's Piazza Maggiore, the original home town of Maserati. It was selected as Neptune represented strength and vigor, which was a positioning strategy fitting for a sports car company. It started out manufacturing race cars up till 1957, where it focused its efforts on making road-going vehicles up till today. Maserati was first bought over by Citroen in 1968, then by De Tomaso in 1975 and finally by the Fiat group since 1989.
The Biturbo was first conceived in 1976 as a model for the "common man" compared to its previous high-range offerings. Many different variants were made over its lifetime with different names given. This Biturbo 222 naming represents a 2-door car, 2-litre twin-turbo engine and 2nd generation. As a 2-door 2+2 coupe, it had 4 seats that could fit adults sufficiently. It was powered by a 1996cc 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 225km/h and an acceleration of 6 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.15m long and weighed 1210kg. Unfortunately, the Biturbo was plagued by electrical problems and rust such that it was very expensive to fix. As a result, Time magazine called it "one of the 50 worst cars of all time".
Production ended in 1998 with only 76 made in right-hand drive for the 2-litre variants. Based on my knowledge, this is the only one on our roads, making this a surprising unicorn. For some reason, it is badged as an E222 even though this nomenclature was only for the 2790cc engine variant. If one was looking for a cheap luxury car, this was the answer although it does not seem to stand out from the box-shaped models of that time. Currently, it is at a car workshop in the north awaiting its next buyer. Do take the opportunity to appreciate this bygone luxury which is so unlike the ones we see today!
27 October 2017
Limousines are a rare sight despite a glut of luxury automobiles in our tiny red dot--they would not be very practical and parking would be a feat on its own. It is therefore impressive to see this 1984 Mercedes W123 250 limousine casually hanging out with other vehicles as well!
The W123 series is a range of executive cars made by Mercedes from 1976, and it was the most successful model at 2.7 million sold before it was replaced by the W124. These cars came with either 4 unequal round headlights or rectangular ones, and they were longer in exterior dimensions compared to previous models. For the long-wheelbase versions ["Lang"], it came in a 7 or 8-seater format, with the middle seats folded down as and when necessary. It was powered by a 2525cc 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 185km/h with an acceleration of 11.9 seconds. It was 5.36m long and weighed 1570kg.
Production ended in 1985 with 5180 made, although I believe few of them were in right-hand drive. I am aware of one other unit in Singapore that is black in colour. Owning a car is already very taxing, not to mention a limousine which would require even more care from errant drivers or overly curious people. Such vehicles are easily associated with the wealthy as they go about in class; when was the last time you saw a limo on our roads? Kudos to the owner for continuing to maintain such an unlikely Mercedes--it would pass off so well as a wedding car and I hope you get a chance to see it too!
16 October 2017
Think of the word 'triumph' and you would evoke scenes of victory and achievement. Most of you would not have thought that Triumph refers to a car company of yesteryear, or the 1974 Triumph Stag that I spotted.
The Triumph Motor Company was founded in 1885 by Siegfried Bettmann from Germany, as S.Bettmann & Co. It started out as a bicycle importer before it was renamed "Triumph" in 1886. Though it experienced success as a motorcycle manufacturer, it entered the car industry in 1921. Triumph went into receivership during 1938 and car production stopped due to WWII. After the war, it was bought over by Standard Motor Company in 1944 and by Leyland Motors in 1960. The Triumph name disappeared in 1984 when BMW bought over its owner Austin Rover Group. Currently, the brand name is owned by BMW even though no cars are badged as such.
The Triumph Stag arose from a styling experiment back in 1963, where the famous Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti worked on a series of Triumph cars including the Stag. The first Stag was produced in 1970 and it was envisioned to be a competitor to the Mercedes R107 SL-class. As a 2+2 sports tourer, it was a 4-seater convertible coupe and was received warmly initially. Quite uniquely, its logo featured a highly stylized stag rather than a griffin. It was powered by a 2997cc Triumph 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 190 km/h with an acceleration of 10 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.42 m long and weighed 1268 kg.
However, the Stag quickly became notorious for its unreliability, specifically engine overheating. Due to numerous design flaws in the engine such as the position of the coolant, it had a tendency to heat up excessively in traffic. Numerous replacements were also required, as the aluminium-iron mixture corroded easily. It proved so bad that Time magazine rated it as one of the 50 worst cars ever made. As a result, production ended prematurely with only 25,939 made in 1977.
This specimen has been imported from the UK quite recently and given a Singapore licence plate under the classic car scheme. Recently, I am aware of a coupe unit that is originally registered here! Given the issues that have dogged the Stag, the owner must have been really brave to bring it on our roads. Although classic cars are generally less reliable than modern ones, this is really off the spectrum in terms of breakdowns. However, to each his own and I really admire the owner for driving this British beauty that could have been great.
12 October 2017
It is easy to wonder how this specimen in the picture is even a car, when it would remind us of a go-kart instead. Furthermore, its simple design doesn't distinguish itself as a 'old car' and I had trouble believing it at first. However, this 'bathtub on wheels', or the 1972 Lotus Super 7 Series 4 is still surviving even until today!
Lotus Cars started out as Lotus Engineering Ltd in 1952, founded by Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman and Colin Dare. If you take a closer look at the logo, you may notice the letters ACBC, which is actually the full name of the founder. It has produced both 'typical' road cars and cars that resemble the F1 models today [non-typical cars]. Lotus ran into financial troubles in the 1980s and was only bailed out rather fortuitously. It is currently owned by Chinese car manufacturer Geely and previously Proton in Malaysia had a stake in the company.
The Lotus 7 was produced between 1957 to 1972, and it has been praised as being simple, lightweight and delivering high performance. It was covered in aluminium panels and had a stiff interior frame, given the rather open nature of the vehicle. An innovation was the 'double wishbone' suspension, which is two wishbone-shaped arms attached to the wheel. It was surprisingly road legal and could be used for clubman racing [racing with prototype race cars]. Due to its simple design, it was a 'kit car' favourite and many spin-offs were created even until today. Some of you might be aware of a similar car produced under the Caterham model, but Caterham obtained a license from Lotus to continue producing such vehicles since 1973.
Most of the Lotus Sevens, including the Series 4, performed extremely well in acceleration, being able to reach 100km/h in 8.8 seconds.This Series 4 was powered by a 1599cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 187km/h. However, the front tends to lift up at speeds of 110km/h. It weighed 590kg and was 3.67m long. Only 664 were made and I am aware of at least 1 other model existing in Singapore.
This is a unique model that allows one to enjoy the closeness to the road, the feeling of sheer power in front of them and the authentic racing experience. It certainly is more risky as less metal is protecting you and the cars around you. Although it may be too close for comfort personally, it is indeed a real head turner because you do not get to see such a bare-bones vehicle everyday!
2 October 2017
From my observations, I would say that old Jaguars are 'endangered': you can find them in the wild but you need luck and skill to find one. However, this 1963 Jaguar Mark X seems to be the only one of its kind here, and this was a seriously coincidental encounter! I was walking back home when I chanced upon this wedding convoy for an Indian couple it seems and clearly this specimen was the star of the show.
The Mark X [Mark 10] was Jaguar's top-range saloon car from 1961-1970 and it was primarily aimed at the US market. It had a unibody car frame [the whole body was made in one piece rather than being welded together] and had a unique 'independent rear suspension' system unheard from British cars at that time. This was the first car to introduce the 4 level headlights and the slanted front end, which is recognizable as a Jaguar feature today. The most striking part would certainly be its svelte curves and how massive it was--even cars today lack the gracefulness and poise of this gentleman here. Beneath the hood lies a 3781cc XK 6-cylinder engine, though later cars were later upgraded to 4235cc from 1964. It could reach a top speed of 203km/h with an acceleration of 11.8 seconds [0-100km/h]. As a car positioned towards heads of state, diplomats and film stars, it was a hefty 5.13m long and weighed 1880kg.
Although it received rave reviews, it never really sold well in the US as it was considered 'too dated' or 'too big'. Only 13,382 were made in the 3.8 litre edition, and this is the only one in Singapore at the moment. I do not know whether this behemoth has been on our roads back then or a recent import. An interesting thing to note is that it has no rear view mirrors, which makes parking challenging at the very least. However, it is really rare for cars to be so advanced in its time--perhaps you may see this some day!
27 September 2017
Take a look at any photo from the 1980s and you would see quite a number of box-shaped cars. Such a shape was very common back then but you would be hard-pressed to find one on our streets today, including this 1979 Ford Cortina Mark 4 1.6GL.
The Ford Cortina was first introduced in 1962, with a total of 4+1 generations. Its name was derived from the Italian ski resort Cortina d'Ampezzo, the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics. The 4th-gen Cortina was based off the previous-gen model, except that it had wider windows, giving the cabin a brighter feel. It was available in various trims, namely base, L, GL, S and Ghia. The Cortina was powered by a 1593cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 151km/h with an acceleration of 14.8 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.38m long and weighed 1035kg.
When production ended in 1980, more than 1.1 million had been made. Despite the Mark 4 being the most popular car in the UK back then, it has become the rarest model due to poor rustproofing. This specimen is 1 of 2 cars that still exist in Singapore, and both are remarkably on normal plates. The Cortina was sold in Singapore previously but these are the lone survivors of the COE scourge. I am pretty sure that you will be able to recognize them from far, so please keep a lookout!
19 September 2017
Firstly, I'm really glad to have my first 100 Instagram followers ever since I started this page in late June. Thank you everyone for your undying support!! Despite writing about 36 cars only, it has come a long way regarding the content on my blog. I hope that it has been interesting so far to learn about the varieties available, and please continue to join me in my journey to cover pieces of automotive histories on our roads!
Even though I have seen UK-registered cars once in a while, I was initially stumped by what I saw because of its unrecognizable brand. It was only after running a quick check on the UK vehicle registration website that I became acquainted with the hitherto unknown 1969 Marcos GT 3-litre.
Marcos Engineering was established in 1959 by founders Jem Marsh and Frank Costin, and the name is derived from the first 3 letters of their surname. Quite an ingenious name for a company isn't it? They produced a number of cars including the GT before going into liquidation in 1972, due to a disastrous expansion attempt into the US. Jem Marsh resurrected the company in 1981 and cars were produced until 2000 when it went bankrupt again. For some reason Marsh reopened Marcos Engineering in 2002 yet again before it closed down in 2007. The Marcos name is still existing as Marcos Cars Ltd as of 2010.
In spite of its tumultuous history, the Marcos GT created a big sensation when it was revealed in 1964. It was initially made of plywood, and the chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces. As a result, the car was not only light and strong, but also required minimum cost to make. The radical car design was due to Costin's experience as an aerospace engineer, who had a hand in developing fighter planes during World War 2. Since it was very low, the driver was almost lying flat while seated. One unique feature was that the seats were fixed, and the pedals could be shifted back and forth via a knob, which is the reverse of modern cars today. The 3-litre models were introduced in 1968, where it was powered by a 2994cc Ford Essex V6 engine. It was able to reach a top speed of 199km/h with an acceleration of 7.2 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.27m long and weighed 884 kg.
Production ended in 1971 with around 200 made for the 3-litre versions. Interestingly, I stumbled upon an auction page showing the exact same car! Apparently, it was owned by a staff sergeant in the US Air Force who was stationed in the UK. The car was severely damaged when a Marcos engineer crashed it, and it had to be rebuilt. Now sporting a new registration number, the seller gave the car as a gift for his brother in Italy back in 1990. However, it returned to England in 2013, not driven at all. Somehow, someone in Singapore managed to acquire it and the car is still at the same place. This is the only one here, but whether it will be registered locally remains to be seen. Please take the opportunity to see this unicorn for yourself before it is gone!
11 September 2017
Ford is a well-known name here, especially with the family-friendly Mondeo or the sporty Focus. That being said, older Ford models are rather scarce, such as the 1967 Ford Anglia 105E here.
The 'Anglia' name has different meanings: it is the old Latin name for England and it refers to the eastern part of England known as East Anglia. It has been suggested that this name was first applied in 1939 due to patriotic reasons. Different cars made by Ford UK have the Anglia naming, but the one in the picture is the 105E, made between 1959-1968.
The Anglia had a backward-slanting window that was supposed to keep rain off and muted tailfins compared to its American counterparts. American influences could still be seen such as the full-width grille in between 'eye' headlamps. It was powered by a 997cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 119km/h and a rather slow acceleration of 26.9 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 3.9m long and weighed 754kg.
Throughout its production life, it remained very popular among consumers: it set a production record of more than 190,000 cars in 1962. Other than the saloon version, a 3-door estate car and a van version were also offered. Production ended in 1968 with around 955,000 saloons made. This Anglia is 1 of 2 that still exist in Singapore, where the other car is blue in colour. This specimen here has not seen much action on the road given the thick layer of dust on the car boot.
Actually, I believe many of you have seen a similar one in the Harry Potter series, when Harry and Ron Weasley drove it to Hogwarts after missing their train in The Chamber of Secrets. Having just finished the entire series lately, I was pleasantly surprised to see one in the flesh. It made me wonder why JK Rowling chose this particular car for the series. I guess by spotting one, you could be on your way to Hogwarts, provided it doesn't crash into the Whomping Willow!
3 September 2017
Rolls-Royce has been known to produce exquisite vehicles, and this 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche is no exception.
Production began in 1971 and its name is derived from the French and Italian term for a 'coastal road along a cliff'. Its clientele was the rich and famous, including musicians David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra. Despite its high selling price back then, the people who bought it were even richer. This car saved Rolls-Royce from bankruptcy as it reaped in some 6.3 million pounds from its sale. Each car is hand-built for 6 months, which is similar to what RR is still doing today.
The Corniche was powered by a 6750cc 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 191km/h and an acceleration of around 10 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.2m long and weighed a whopping 2185kg. There were 5 generations of Corniches produced and of which, only around 3200 1st-gen convertibles were made. The specimen here seems to be imported as seen from the rather new number plate. Based on my knowledge, there are fewer than 5 in Singapore currently. Seeing older RRs is a once-in-a-blue-moon sighting and I hope you will be able to recognise this gem too!
25 August 2017
With the recent celebration of Ferrari's 70th anniversary in, there was a record-breaking convoy of 157 stallions which traveled 70km around Singapore. Only around 5 were old horses, including the Ferrari 308 GTBs in the pictures.
The 308 GTB was first produced in 1975, as a successor to the Dino-badged 206/246 GT. It took its distinctive wedge shape from cars back in the 1970s, which could be seen as a blessing even until today as many people recognise it as a Ferrari icon. Initially, the car body was made of fibreglass but it was changed to steel some time later, thus increasing the weight of the car by 150kg. There were unofficially 2 generations of the 308: the first generation was simply called the 308 GTS/GTB while the second generation was called the 308 'quattrovalvole' [4 valves in Italian]. GTS versions had a removable targa top unlike the GTB versions. The generations can be differentiated by the horizontal louvers on the car hood for the 308 quattrovalvole.
The 308 was one of a few Ferraris to feature an 8-cylinder engine compared to the usual 12 cylinders. The specimen in the first picture was powered by a 2927cc Tipo F106 V8, allowing it to reach a top speed of 252km/h with an acceleration of 6 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.23m long and weighed 1300kg.
The 308 quattrovalvole was powered by a 2927cc Tipo F105 V8, allowing it to reach a top speed of 255km/h with an acceleration of 6.5 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.23m long and weighed 1330kg.
Production of the 308 stopped in 1985, with 2897 1st-gen GTBs and 748 2nd-gen GTBs made. Older Ferraris do have a strong following, but they are vulnerable to issues relating to such old cars. Throughout Ferrari's 70 years of existence, they have designed masterpieces like yours truly. Having said that, there are quite a number of them on our roads--do keep your eyes open! In a land where luxury cars abound, it really shows one's dedication to maintain these antiques for us to see.
21 August 2017
Mercedes-Benz has been associated with the rich and famous, or 'towkays' in the local context. It has become so well-known even among the uninitiated--practically anyone can recognise the 3-pointed star. With the glut of modern models on our roads, older models are a treat to spot, especially when the one you are seeing is a 1979 W116 450SEL 6.9 model.
The 450SEL 6.9 is the high-performance top-of-the-line edition of the W116 series of Mercedes cars. Visually, it is indistinguishable from other W116 models other than a "6.9" badging at the rear. When it was released in 1974, it was touted as the flagship of Mercedes cars. It featured a unique suspension system that allowed the car to travel smoothly on rough terrain, and the car could be raised an additional 50mm to provide for better ground clearance. As seen in the picture, it had headlight wipers, a feature that would look rather strange today. The function was to remove dirt and grime from the car headlight, just like what a normal windscreen wiper does. As its name suggests, the car was powered by a 6834cc (6.9l) 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 225km/h and an acceleration of 7.4 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.06m long and weighed 1935kg.
Production ended in 1981, with only 7380 made. This specimen has been imported from the UK as it still features UK plates. Beneath its unassuming brown paint a powerful beast lurks, waiting to be unleashed. I do not know whether it has been registered as of today, but having a variety of classic Mercedes cars on our roads is always better, given that the majority are the W123 models. Despite it being popular among diplomats and people in power, I believe many would overlook its existence. Do keep your eyes open for this rare gem!
14 August 2017
Open-top, or convertible cars remain popular on our roads given the humid climate and how good it is to feel the wind in your hair when you are driving. This 1990s Saab 900S convertible and 1989 900 Turbo sedan are unique classics-although it doesn't look very old, it remains popular till today and successfully established itself as an icon of the 1990s.
Saab, an acronym for "Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget" (Swedish Aeroplane Company Limited) was founded in 1937 by the Swedish government. It started out manufacturing aircraft in anticipation of World War 2. After the war ended, it entered the automobile manufacturing market in 1945. Saab went bankrupt in 2011, where it is currently owned by a Chinese consortium called National Electric Vehicle Sweden. Saab is a well-known icon of Sweden and its vehicles are subjected to high safety standards such as the 'elk test'.
The Saab 900 was first produced in 1978, where it featured a number of unique characteristics such as a deeply-curved windshield to provide maximum visibility, a curved dashboard and a special door design. There were different variants such as a 4-door sedan, a convertible and a 3/5-door hatchback. The convertible version only appeared in 1985 when it was noted that this would be popular among American consumers. Making one was not easy as additional safety features had to be considered. It was powered by a 1985cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 200km/h with an acceleration of 9.6 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.69m long and weighed 1340kg.
Production of the Saab 900 ended in 1993, with more than 908,000 produced including 48,888 convertibles. Saab has an unusual market following consisting of intellectuals and enthusiasts. There are quite a number of them on our roads despite its rarity and you can identify it by its unique wedge shape. Driving an almost-30 year old car requires much dedication and love, and I hope to see more in the future!
6 August 2017
Mention Ferrari and practically everyone can think of a red sports car with the prancing horse logo. This is due to society's perceptions of the brand name and that there are quite a lot of them galloping on our roads, thus it is more obvious for the public. Although we tend to associate Ferrari cars with newer models, its older marques are as equally stunning as well such as this 1995 Testarossa F512M.
Ferrari first started out as Scuderia Ferrari ["Ferrari Stable"/"Team Ferrari"], founded by Enzo Ferrari himself in 1929. Fiat SpA bought 50% of the company in 1969 and currently it is spun off from the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles conglomerate since 2016. For a brand with a relatively short history, it is the world's most powerful brand where it is recognised even in "areas without paved roads".
The Testarossa was first introduced in 1984, where it served to fix the problems associated with the 512i BB. It had a longer length in order to accommodate luggage space and the distinctive side intakes or "cheese graters" were also designed to cool down the engine more efficiently. Its name, which literally means "red head" in Italian, refers to the red valve covers on the car engine. The F512M was the final generation of the Testarossa and there were quite a number of changes. Its headlights were now fixed, the grille design changed and there were twin ducts on the bonnet. It was powered by a 4943cc 12-cylinder engines, allowing it to reach a top speed of 315km/h with an acceleration of 4.7 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.48m long and weighed 1455kg.
Production of the Testarossa ended with the F512M in 1996, where only 75 were made in right-hand drive. Although it may not be very old, it has a distinctly classic look that makes it stand out from other models. This specimen is the only one here and I expect it to make an appearance during the Ferrari showcase!
31 July 2017
Porsches are a common sight on our roads despite the rather expensive price tags, and most of you may have heard of the famous 911 that comes in many forms. The brand name is also associated with flashy sports cars driven by rich people. However, it all began with the humble Porsche 356, which many consider to be the first car made by Porsche.
Porsche, or more formally known as "Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung", was founded by Ferdinand Porsche himself in 1931. In case you are wondering why the name is so long, it stands for "Doktor Ingenieur honoris causa Ferdinand Porsche". 'Doktor Ingenieur' refers to 'Doctor of Engineering', 'honoris causa' means 'honorary degree' and the latter part in German is the equivalent of a 'Limited Liability Company'. It is a mouthful to say it, but I'm sure none of you were aware of this until a few minutes ago!
The design of the 356 began in 1948, where the founders envisioned a powerful yet light small car. It had a unibody construction, where the entire car body is manufactured rather than welded together like modern vehicles. It became popular in the 1950s when enthusiasts noted its aerodynamics, handling and beautiful aesthetics. Throughout its production span, there were 4 distinct series, namely the 356, 356A, 356B and 356C. The cars in the pictures are the A, B and C series in order. As seen here, there are not much visual differences between the 3 of them.
The green 1959 356A was powered by a 1582cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 177km/h with an acceleration of 13.5 seconds [0-60mph]. It was 3.95m long and weighed 820kg.
The blue 1961 356B was powered by a 1600cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 163km/h with an acceleration of 13.9 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.01m long and weighed 838kg.
The red 1965 356C was powered by a 1600cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 185km/h with an acceleration of 11.8 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.01m long and weighed 935kg.
Production ended in 1965 with around 76,000 made, of which 21,045 were 356As, 30,963 were 356Bs and 16,678 were 356Cs. About half are known to survive today and there are 6/7 of them on our roads, including the ones in the picture! The Porsche 356 is a popular collector car and it really takes pure dedication to keep the tradition alive. I am really drawn to its elegant curves and its aura of grandness. If you get to see one in person, you would know what I mean!
PS: Shoutout to Luxglove and Robb Report Singapore for organising this Classic Car Exhibition! More photos will be up soon, please stay tuned!
24 July 2017
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!
17 July 2017
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 191 km/h and an acceleration of 9.2 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.81 m long and weighed 1676 kg.
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!
10 July 2017
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!
2 July 2017
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.
27 June 2017
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!
21 June 2017
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!
17 June 2017
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!
14 June 2017
Pre-war cars [older than 1939] are very rare in Singapore, given the humidity and the extreme heat all year round. As a result, practically all of such vehicles have been imported here and given a new lease of life under these enthusiasts. They do look somewhat out of place in modern society and this 1938 SS Jaguar/Jaguar Mark IV 1.5 Litre is a prime example of past versus the present.
Many of you would have seen Jaguar Cars, mostly driven by what we call 'rich people'. However, it was initially known as SS Cars Limited, which was founded in 1922 by William Lyons. No one really knows what SS stands for--it could be either 'Swallow Sidecar Company' or 'Standard Swallow'. SS Cars became known as Jaguar Cars in 1945, where it is now part of India-based Tata Motors since 2008.
Production of the SS Jaguar 1.5 Litre began in 1935 and it was the smallest car compared to the larger models such as the 2.5 and 3.5 Litre. The horns are actually somewhat visible under the headlights and the side indicators were welded on the fenders [ie the curved portion over the wheels]. It was powered by a 1776cc Standard 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 113km/h. It was also 4.39m long and had a 4-speed manual transmission.
When production ended in 1949, 10,430 were made and this specimen here had been imported here recently. I find it amazing that there are people who are willing to go through all the hassle and paperwork in order to drive an antique piece of history given the COE system here. Here;s to hoping that the owner will keep it running in the years to come!
13 June 2017
I believe all would have heard of Volkswagen, especially after the emissions scandal. This is a throwback to the times when things were simpler. The VW Karmann Ghia has been noted for its beauty and its timelessness, but do you know that its rather long name is due to a collaboration between 2 coachbuilding [car-body manufacturing] firms?
Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, a German firm, was founded in 1901 while Carrozzeria Ghia SpA was founded in Italy in 1916. They were contracted by Volkswagen in the early 1950s, as VW wanted a 'halo car' [ie a premium model] to its lineup. The Karmann Ghia was first produced in 1955, where the public reactions exceeded expectations. It was marketed as a more luxurious model compared to the Beetle, as it was more expensive and time-consuming to make the car body by hand.
The Karmann Ghia was equipped with a 1584cc 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 138km/h with an acceleration of 21.3 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.14m long and weighed 870kg. When production ended in 1974, more than 440,000 were produced, out of which only around 80,000 were cabriolets like the one in the picture. As with other VW cars at that time, the engine was located at the back of the car [rear-engined]. Throughout its production period, it underwent some modifications such as the tail-light size and the bumpers. This specimen is a 1970 model, as the tail-lights have gotten bigger but the bumper had not been changed yet.
To the best of my knowledge, there are around 5 here in Singapore, making this a rare car in its own right. You can see the exquisite design of its curves and how unique it would have been back in the 1950s. Hopefully, you will get the chance to see this gem for yourself one day!
12 June 2017
Say the words 'safest car' and chances are you might mention Volvo. Volvo has a large presence here, from the everyday models to police cars, and even the PMO's motorcade. Yet, did you know that some of its cars were made right here back in 1979? Local production ended very quickly in 1980 but 500 cars had been produced. The Volvo 240 GLT was one of them.
Volvo was founded in 1927 as a subsidiary of SKF, a Swedish ball-bearings manufacturer. Its name, which is Latin for 'I roll', was supposed to be for a certain type of ball bearing but was later patented for cars. Volvo was first bought over by Ford in 1999, and was later sold to China car manufacturer Geely in 2009. Volvo has always prioritised their reliability and solidity, and it was no surprise when they introduced safety measures which we take for granted: the three-point seat-belt, laminated glass and crumple zones are examples. As a result, it has won people over worldwide.
The 200 Series [of which the 240 GLT was part of] was introduced in 1974 in a number of variations. Initially, the naming was based on the number of doors and the trim level but this was changed in 1983 where all cars were simply called the 240. The 'GLT' in this case stands for "Grand Luxe Touring", which is basically a sporty premium version compared to the basic model. It was equipped with a 2664cc PRV 6-cylinder engine [a collaboration between Peugeot, Renault and Volvo]-- the maximum top speed was 150km/h and its acceleration was 17.5 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.9m long and weighed 1370kg.
When production ended in 1993, more than 2.8 million had been made and it remains popular with enthusiasts and common folk alike. However, it is difficult to find one here despite how numerous it was, no thanks to the COE system. I have only seen a gold-coloured model even though I believe there are more. What attracted me was its boxy shape and how dated it looks, but hopefully the old-school charm can still work its magic on you!
11 June 2017
You don't really hear of cars having nicknames, unless they are really endearing/well-known to people. Such is the case with the Morris Minor, affectionately called the 'Moggy'/'Morrie'.
Morris Motors started out as WRM Motors Limited, founded by bicycle manufacturer William Morris in 1912. It later merged with Austin Motors to form the British Motor Corporation in 1952, which is now part of China car manufacturer SAIC after a series of mergers and acquisitions. The Morris brand name lasted until 1984 with the production of the Morris Ital.
The idea of the Morris Minor was conceived in 1941 by Alec Issigonis, a junior engineer at the company. He envisioned a car that the average man would want, which was also spacious and easy to drive. Interestingly, it was called the Mosquito during the planning stages but was later changed to Minor, in reference to the 1928 Morris Minor. Over its production run from 1948-1971, more than 1.3 million were made of varying types and it became a representation of 'Englishness'.
The first generation [Minor MM] was produced from 1948-1953 with more than 250,000 made, and was powered by a 918cc 4-cylinder engine. It could reach a top speed of 100km/h, but acceleration was very slow at 40.8 seconds. It was 3.76m long and weighed 762kg.
The Minor 1000, which was made between 1956-1971 had certain differences as seen in the pictures: the split windscreen had been replaced with a single one, the traffic indicators had changed orientation and the grille design was also different. It was powered by a 948cc BMC A-Series 4-cylinder engine, which allowed it to reach a top speed of 117km/h with an acceleration of 33.4 seconds [0-100km/h]. 847,491 were produced during its lifetime. Both models had a 4-speed manual transmission also; the 1st picture is a 1951 model while the 2nd picture is a 1959 model.
In Singapore, it was used as learner cars for driving lessons back in the 1970s--your parents might have passed their driving test in one! Although they may not be as common, they are still recognizable as quite a number of classic car owners still own them. Some of them still have normal plates, which shows the dedication of their owners to keep it on the roads. I am aware that this is also a popular choice for a wedding car-- hopefully you will appreciate the beauty of these gentlemen and allow it to be a part of your special day!
10 June 2017
The French are well-known for being graceful and this is certainly true of this 1971 Citroen DS D20 Super. The DS has become a beloved French icon and it has many followers worldwide: Pope John XIII, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, actress Rosamund Pike [Gone Girl] to even the late president Charles de Gaulle, who survived an assassination attempt in it in 1962. It was also popular with taxi drivers as it was spacious, and it has appeared in more than 2000 film and TV shows such as Back to the Future 2 and The Mentalist.
The DS name comes from Déesse [French for 'goddess'] and it was the replacement for the popular Traction Avant, first produced in 1934. When it was first released in 1955, France was still recovering from the effects of World War 2 and this was seen as a symbol of ingenuity. There were many rave reviews about the car: people fell in love with its futuristic styling all the way to the superior hydraulics system. Citroen received 80,000 orders during the first 10 days, which remains a record.
When production stopped in 1975, more than 1.4 million had been made.
The success of the DS cemented Citroen's status as an automotive innovator. An example was the hydraulic suspension system, which enabled the car to have a constant 'ride height' even over uneven terrain--many people have described riding in the DS as a 'magic carpet ride'. It was initially offered with the hydralique/Citromatic semi-automatic transmission [a combination of the manual transmission when changing gears, and the automated process of gear switching]. Later, a four and five-speed manual transmission was introduced along with a 3-speed automatic transmission. The DS D20 in the picture was powered by a 1985cc six-cylinder engine, enabling it to reach a top speed of 169 km/h and an acceleration of 14.2 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It is a large executive car: it was 4.87 m long and weighed 1300 kg.
The specimen here is currently the only one registered in Singapore and according to a blog I read, the owner had bought it in 1999 when it appeared on an advertisement. It still had its original number plate at that time, and the fact that it is not red-and yellow suggests the effort by him to keep it on our roads. I had no idea that one of the 'most beautiful cars of all time' actually existed here and I hope the owner continues to maintain it for future generations to see!
9 June 2017
It is apparent that what you are seeing is an old car, but how old is it? Were you able to identify the car brand immediately? Like you, I was unable to identify what this could be as there were no badges or visible identification such as the grille shape. It was only after some research that I managed to identify this as a 1961 Holden FB Special.
Holden is an Australian car manufacturer which was founded by James Alexander Holden in 1856. It started out business making horse saddles before moving on to cars in 1919. It was bought over by US-based General Motors in 1931 and recently, it was announced that Holden will stop producing vehicles in Australia this year. Holden was present here since 1956 but with the shift towards small economical cars, it left the Singapore market in the late 90s. It was only recently that Holden made a return here, albeit as Holden Special Vehicles (HSV).
The Holden FB was a replacement of the Holden FC and it was produced only for 1 year, between 1960-1961. It was available in different forms: a 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe, a 5-door station wagon and a panel van. The 'Special' version had a white roof and different-coloured body along with a stainless steel trim as seen in the picture. It was popular with farmers due to its ruggedness. It was powered by a 2262 cc 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 130 km/h. However, its acceleration was very slow at 20.4 seconds [0-97 km/h]. The FB Special was 4610 mm long and weighed 1131 kg.
During its limited production run, 174,747 were made and this specimen was imported over from Indonesia in 2013. It is well-loved by Indonesians and this came with country-specific specifications, such as a white roof and metric instrumentation. I do not know whether it is back on the road after its repairs, but this is so uniquely 60s such that you could spot it a mile away. It still has not lost its old-school charm and I hope the owner continues to maintain this gem.
Throughout my years of documenting old cars in Singapore, it is a treat to spot vehicles that I didn't know existed here, either because it is not native to the Asian market or that it has been kept from the outside world for so long. I was therefore surprised to see this 1981 Lancia Montecarlo lurking in a random corner!
Lancia is an Italian car manufacturer which was founded in 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia as "Lancia & C. Fabbrica Automobili". Lancia is renowned for pioneering many automobile innovations, such as the 5-speed gearbox and the V6 [6-cylinder] engine. Previously, it also made trucks and buses but it stopped doing so in 1970. It was bought over by Fiat in 1969 and it is currently known as Lancia Automobiles S.p A since 2007.
The design for the Montecarlo was drawn up in 1971 by Pininfarina, a famous car design company. Production began in 1975 and ended in 1982. There were 2 different generations of cars, as Lancia halted production in 1979 so that it could work out certain issues. It was powered by the Lampredi I4 engine [4-cylinder engine], allowing it to reach a maximum speed of 195 km/h with an acceleration of 9.3 seconds [0-100km/h]. The Series 2 was 3.81 m long and weighed 1040 kg.
However, the Montecarlo was plagued with problems such as a noisy engine and a propensity to rust. The first series models also had problems with braking, especially in wet conditions, leading to the hiatus as mentioned earlier. Only about 7800 were built and many were beyond repair due to the rust. To the best of my knowledge, Lancia still does not have a presence in Singapore and this specimen is most likely imported. Yet, I hope to see this someday on our roads!
7 June 2017
The MG Car Company Limited first started out as Morris Garages, founded by W.R.Morris in 1920. It is not known when MG was formed exactly, but its octagonal logo was patented in 1924 and this has been the basis for its various anniversaries. MG underwent a series of mergers and acquisitions, from British Motor Corporation in 1952 to being acquired by China-based SAIC in 2007, where it is now known as MG Motor.
The MG Midget was first announced in 1961 as an alternative to the then-popular Austin-Healy Sprite. Production ceased in 1980 with 4 different generations produced. The Mk1 was powered by a BMC A-Series 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a maximum top speed of 138 km/h with an acceleration of 18.3 seconds [0-97km/h]. It weighed 735 kg and was 3.46 m long. Strangely, it had no external door handles or locks.
Only about 25,600 were made but I am aware that there are quite a few of them here. What struck me most about this specimen here is how neglected it looks--peeling paint and the slanted number plate. The yellow has already faded, so it must have been exposed to the elements for quite some time. However, at least the last user had the mind to cover the car cabin. It hurts my heart to see it in such a pathetic state and I really hope it can be restored to its former glory.
6 June 2017
I believe many of you have come across these type of trucks in Malaysia, whether it is carrying timber along Genting Highlands or transporting produce. You may also notice how noisy and polluting they can be, when you hear the loud braap sound and see black smoke spewing out from the overhead exhaust. However, these 'generic' road-runners have a name-- the Mercedes-Benz L-series truck.
It is also known as the 'short-bonnet' truck or Kurzhauber in German, as the engine intruded into to cabin under the windshield in order to fulfill German regulations at that time. First introduced in 1959, production was surprisingly long as it ended in 1995. During its existence, it was exported all over the world, thereby contributing to its longevity. Iran is still producing them even until today!
The L-series had many variants and was classified based on its weight and the engine horsepower. It was powered by the Mercedes OM352 5675 cc inline-6 engine [6-cylinder engine]. The one in the picture is believed to be a 1980s L911 model, where '9' means 9 tons and '11' means 1100 horsepower. A distinguishing factor which I noticed between the newer and older trucks is the absence of a line dividing the centre grille. Note that the truck in the picture only has a flimsy piece of wood/metal as a door--this gives a whole new meaning to open-air driving!
Mercedes engineered these trucks such that it became rugged, being capable of handling harsh terrain and even carrying up to 3 times its maximum weight. It proved to be very popular in the Middle East during the oil exploration period, as most roads back then were not paved. Speed was not the crucial factor, so it only had a top speed of 90 km/h.
Singapore did have these trucks back in the 1980s based on pictures, but it has become extinct due to regulations. All is not lost as you can still see them across the Causeway, but do remember that they are living pieces of history!