29 March 2018

More than an old car #61: Honda Concerto

In the history of car production, there are cars that look fashionable back then but end up horribly dated now. Conversely, there are others that look ordinary when released, yet appreciated by car enthusiasts today. This 1989 Honda Concerto EXi is a prime example of run-of-the-mill plainness but it has held up well all this while.

The Honda Concerto was a result of a joint production between Honda and Austin Rover Group, and was introduced in 1988. Its name is derived from a type of music composition and it was supposed to cater to European tastes. It looks like a 4th-gen Civic at first glance, but a notable difference is the "six-light window treatment", or the additional rear quarter window. It was made in both the UK and Japan, and came in a 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan. This sedan version was powered by a 1590cc i4 Honda ZC engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 185 km/h and an acceleration of 10.6 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.41m long and weighed 1075 kg.

Production ended in 1994 when the Rover branch was acquired by BMW. So far, there is only one other model in white left on our roads, though there had been more a few years ago. Besides the more glamorous classics, I thought it would be good to highlight unremarkable old cars such as this to show our diversity. This unit has been maintained quite well and I like the subtle paint job too. It may not be destined for the scrap yard any time soon, but I fear many of you would not appreciate this relic. Granted, many of you would fail to give it a second glance and I had to dig up my archives to find this picture. Yet, this is the whole point of my blog: to raise attention to the oldies among us today.

26 March 2018

More than an old car #60: Rover 60 (P4)

Previously, I mentioned the Rover SD1 that had made an appearance here. It seems that there is a greater appreciation for obscure British cars and I was pleasantly surprised to spot this 1954 Rover P4-60 at the Road to Saigon flag-off! I had never heard of it until I saw it in one of my follower's feed (it was a photoshoot of the same car), it was pure luck that it had turned up at the event!

The Rover P4 series were a group of mid-size luxury cars produced by the Rover Company between 1949-1964. However, the P4 name was a factory designation and the common people identified them by the amount of horsepower produced ie 75, 60, 90, 105, 80, 100, 95 and 110. The bodies were made of an aluminum/magnesium alloy up to the final models, and was one of the last UK cars to feature "suicide doors".

The Rover 60 was announced in 1953 to include a more economical 4-cylinder engine. This specimen here is an early model, as there were modifications done later on such as a longer car boot and changed positions of the side indicators. It was powered by a 1997cc straight-4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 127 km/h. It was 4530 mm long and weighed 1413 kg.

Production of the 60 ended in 1959 with 9,666 made. It turned out that this was originally imported into Singapore back in the 50s by Champion Motors Ltd, a car dealer that incidentally markets Suzuki cars today. This unit was registered in March 1954, but it sports a current registration number. It is part of British culture and was also known as the "Auntie Rovers": motoring journalist Denis Jenkinson commented that the P4 had tackled a torturous journey "just like going to Auntie's for tea". I hope you will have a chance to spot this uncommon beauty, with its quirky rounded look and two-tone paint!

19 March 2018

More than an old car #59: Porsche 944

Porsche has always remained a fan favourite among many of us here due to the runaway success of the 911. It is also seen as a luxury symbol that has attracted the young and old. Here, I want to recognise a lesser-known product from the Stuttgart factory: this 1985 Porsche 944.

The 944 was based off its predecessor, the 924 and it was supposedly an upgrade from the teething problems the 924 experienced. Introduced in 1982, it featured better handling due to the strategic transaxle placement. Furthermore, it was faster and had a front/rear weight distribution. The rear spoiler at the back added a nice styling touch. It was powered by a 2749cc i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 220 km/h, with an acceleration of 8.4 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4200 mm long and weighed 1180 kg.

Over its lifetime, different versions were made including a Turbo and a cabriolet version. Production ended in 1991 with 111,500 made for the base 944. I am aware of at least 5 units on our roads, but as with old cars, it has many issues that would keep the owners busy for a while. It is cars like these that provide a refreshing view from the more numerous 911s. I believe you would not be able to miss its subtle boxiness, do keep a lookout for them!

12 March 2018

More than an old car #58: Datsun Sunny 1200

Many of you would be familiar with Nissan even if you are not into cars. From Uber/Grab cars, to Cabstar lorries or even your parents' car, chances are that you would hit a Nissan if you were to throw a rock randomly. However, Nissan's history stretches way back and it was renowned for producing classics such as this 1971 Datsun Sunny 1200.

In 1911, Masujiro Hashimoto founded the Kaishinsha Jidosha Kojo ['A Good Company Automobile Manufacturer'], and in 1914 it produced its first car called the DAT. The car's name was an acronym of the company's investors' surnames: Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi. The company's name was later changed to Jidosha-Seizo Co. Ltd in 1934, which later became part of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd in 1934. The Nissan name came about as an abbreviation of Nihon Sangyo, the holding company.
At this point, you may be already confused by Nissan and Datsun, but remember that they are the same company. The Datsun name was phased out in 1985 and subsequent cars are produced under the Nissan name.

The Datsun Sunny 1200, also known as the B110, was produced in 1970 as a competitor to the Toyota Corolla. Back in 1965, Nissan held a national campaign to name its newest product and after 8 million suggestions, the name 'Sunny' was chosen after being nominated 3,105 times. Variants included a 2/4 door sedan, a 3/5 door station wagon and even a pick-up truck. Its popularity increased when it performed well in Japanese rally events, and fulfilled a market gap for small cars in places like Australia.
It was powered by a 1172cc Nissan A12 i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 150km/h with an acceleration of 14.8 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 3830mm long and weighed 715kg.

Production ended in 1973, where it was replaced by the Datsun B210. I believe there are a few more out there on our roads, although this specimen is the most visible as it makes regular appearances at car meets. This specimen has been restored quite lovingly, along with a front lip spoiler. Fender mirrors also add a touch of classic JDM feels--this feature is something you don't get to see often. However, it can also be a nuisance to adjust if the mirrors become misaligned inadvertently. It is really cool to see such classic machines that once ruled our roads back then, and it is really commendable for the owner to save an otherwise nondescript vehicle. Do keep a lookout for it and appreciate its uniqueness behind its boxiness!

5 March 2018

More than an old car #57: BMW E38 L7

BMW has always been the go-to car for the newly-rich in my opinion: many people I know own some type of Beemer. However, why settle for less when you could go all out with this 1998 BMW E38 L7?

The E38 is the 3rd generation of the BMW 7 series, which was first developed in 1988 under the direction of design director Claus Luthe. It had the code name "Entwicklung 99". The final production design was green-lighted in 1991 and production began in 1993. Many models were made with different engine capacities, from the 728i to the 750i.

The L7, also known as the 740/750iXL, first appeared in 1997. It was 25cm longer than the "iL" models, which you can see as the additional length between the front and back door. As a top-of-the-line model sold exclusively in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, BMW spared no expense in maxing out the possible amenities within a small area. Features included a telephone, cooler box with glasses, folding table, writing pad and even a fax machine of all things! Check out this brochure to see it for yourself!
These are features you would associate more with high-end luxuries like Rolls-Royce, but it is seriously cool to see how BMW really served to provide the best customer experience. Although I wonder whether there was a need for the user to check on his/her business while on the go?
It was powered by a 5379cc M73 V12 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 250km/h with an acceleration of 7 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5374 mm long and weighed 2215 kg.

Production of the L7 ended in 2001 with 899 made, of which only 71 were made in RHD. I was rather surprised to find out that there are 2 more units currently registered on our roads, although all of them seem to be owned by Raffles Hotel. Its number plate alludes to the foundation of the hotel back in 1886. You can see the flag holder beside the headlight--probably utilised when ferrying important personages. As the picture shows, it was taken on the spur of the moment when it was about to drive off. It's quite amazing that we have 1/24 of all RHD L7s in the world! It's not everyday that you get to witness luxuries wrapped up in an otherwise unremarkable body: who knows what gems you may find along the way!