31 July 2017

More than an old car #29: Porsche 356

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 beschr√§nkter 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

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!

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 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

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!

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.