25 March 2019

More than an old car #99: MG K3 Magnette

Throughout my years of car spotting, I have been fortunate to come across cars that are relatively rare here. Although there is a bucket list of cars that I want to see, I guess I should be thankful to see this 1933 MG K3 Magnette since I have never seen it ever since!

The MG K-Type was first launched in 1932 at the London Motor Show, and as with cars of that era, it was geared towards racing. The Magnette name signified its smaller engine capacity from its sibling, the Magna. It experienced great success in various racing events, most notably in the 1933 Mille Miglia when it outlasted the crowd-favourite Maseratis to clinch 1st place.

The K3 was the third iteration of the K-Type, and it was fitted with a 'preselector gearbox', which is a type of manual transmission that requires the driver to first select the desired gear before pushing a pedal on the floor to change it. Such gearboxes were more common back then, for example in Daimler vehicles and London buses, and they are still used today in tanks. Most units were powered by a 1087 cc supercharged i6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 177 km/h with an acceleration of 14.6 seconds [0-120 km/h]. It was 3658 mm long and weighed 914 kg.

Production of K-Types ended in 1934 with only 33 K3s made. However, I believe this unit here is a replica since the original 33 units had either new bodies, engine swaps or were destroyed unfortunately. This is further confirmed by the registry, which implies that it has been fitted with a 1432 cc engine instead. When I first chanced upon it by accident in 2017, its registration number had not been updated yet, suggesting that it was a very recent import. For some reason, I haven't seen it at all ever since nor has it been seen by people on the road. I believe practically all of you would not have heard of it before, notwithstanding that its heyday was decades ago. I hope that I can see this in closer detail and probably find out more about its origin, maybe you'll get to see it some day!

18 March 2019

More than an old car #98: Toyota Crown Coupe S70

A number of you may be familiar with the Toyota Crown--they are more commonly associated with people who are somewhat more wealthy and yet prefer something Japanese. I had no idea that this 1972 Toyota Crown S70 existed until I saw it at a car meet!

The Toyota Crown is a series of large executive cars which first appeared in 1955, and it is the longest-running passenger car nameplate under Toyota; the Corolla only appeared in 1966! Its name is a reference to a king's crown, which emphasized a state of luxury. Also, it is one of the few Toyota models to feature its own logo; other examples include the Alphard and Vellfire MPVs. The 4th generation of Crowns ie S60/S70 was launched in 1971 and was available in coupe, sedan, wagon and van variants. For the hardtop coupe, its styling strongly resembled those of contemporary American cars of its day such as the Ford Thunderbird and Ford Torino. Uniquely, it also has a vent on the top of the hood and the steeply-angled chin of the car gave rise to the "kujira" nickname (Japanese for 'whale').

Export models all featured the quad round headlights, while Japanese-market models had rectangular ones. There was a facelift in 1973 with the change to a chrome bumper, compared to the previous body-coloured ones. It was powered by a 1988 cc M i6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 165 km/h. It was 4680 mm long and weighed 1310 kg, clearly befitting of its nickname.

Production of the 4th-generation Crown ended in 1974 with the introduction of the 5th generation model. This particular unit is currently the last one left in Singapore, and it still carries its original registration number. It was on sale back then before residing with its current owner, who has swapped the wheels with 'deep lip' rims. I really love how immaculate this rarity gleams, and the addition of the fender mirrors also lend a retro touch. According to newspaper clippings, advertisements for them appeared some time in 1973; evidently they were sold here previously. Old Crowns have all but died out due to exorbitant road taxes and lack of spare parts--it is impressive how this unit is the last man standing. If you are lucky, you may be able to see this whale ruling the roads just like yesteryear!

4 March 2019

More than an old car #97: Austin A35

Small cars are now increasingly popular among Singaporeans, due to the tax benefits from small engine capacity and parking space. Most of them are clearly Japanese, but I was quite surprised to see this tiny 1959 Austin A35 as well!

The Austin A35 was a small family saloon that was first produced in 1956. It was the successor of the A30 and shared various visual similarities, such as the rather cute-looking body which was designed in-house. This enabled the A35 to be lighter and stiffer than other vehicles of its time. During a test run in 1957, it handled well in traffic and had good fuel economy, a point which was important for buyers during the fuel crisis at that time. Different body styles were made: a 2/4-door saloon, an estate (station wagon) and a panel van. The 4-door saloon here was powered by a 948 cc A-Series i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 117 km/h with an acceleration of 30.1 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 3464 mm long and weighed 705 kg

Production of the A35 stopped in 1968 for the van version and 1959 for the saloon version. Somehow, only 28,961 4-door saloons were made, more than 5 times less than the 2-door version. This particular unit, in a unique metallic pea green paint, still has its original registration number. Although it is not very evident from past newspaper records, A35s were sold here and this may be the last one on our shores! This car would not look too out of place among the small city cars that we have today. It would seem that the owner must really love this little machine so much that he/she still decides to keep it until today. Despite the relatively huge cars that ply our road, I believe you will be able to spot this one easily as well!