25 August 2017

More than an old car #33: Ferrari 308 GTB

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

More than an old car #32: Mercedes-Benz W116 450SEL 6.9

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

More than an old car #31: Saab 900

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

More than an old car #30: Ferrari Testarossa F512M

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!