11 April 2019

More than an old car #100: Citroen HY

Many of you would be familiar with the concept of food trucks, as they are a staple in almost every large-scale carnival in Singapore. Sometimes if you are lucky, you can see the renowned VW Kombi too. Let me introduce you to this 1970 Citroen HY Van, a food truck that you would not see before!

The Citroen HY, also known as the Type H/H Van, was a panel van made starting from 1947. Pierre Franchiset, who was working in the body development department, is credited for coming up with this innovative design. Its name is derived from it being the 8th project that Citroen worked on, and eventually decided to produce it. Taking cues from its Traction Avant range of cars, it featured a uni-body design and had its engine pushed all the way in front, a feature that was unique compared to vans of that time. Furthermore, the wheels had independent suspensions, enabling it to take more weight than expected.

As with the 2CV, the HY was designed to be durable yet cheap for the masses. For example, the windshield was made in 1 complete piece as it was cheaper to do so, and the distinctive corrugated body work was inspired from the Junkers Ju bomber planes: the ribs added strength without adding weight, even to the point that a horse could be loaded into one! Its remarkable height of 1820 mm also enabled one to stand inside the van, which proved useful if one wanted to load/unload goods. Most HY vans were powered by a 1911 cc 4-cylinder engine, which allowed it to reach a top speed of 78 km/h. It was 4270 mm long and weighed around 1500 kg.

Production ended in 1981 with 473,289 made, remarkably over a long period of time. This unit is a post-1969 facelift model due to the squarish rear fenders, compared with circular ones before that. HY vans have entered cult status just like the VW Kombi, and it is very common to see them being converted to food trucks selling all kinds of "hipster" foods. However, none made it to Singapore originally, since practically all of them were in left-hand drive.

This unit, with its engine removed, was imported from Sweden and has found a new life becoming a coffee van. I believe most of you would not be familiar with this since none existed here previously, despite it being well-known in Europe. It's pretty unique to see something not so common, and do check this out if you have the time!

1 April 2019

Miscellaneous classics #2: Nissan Cabstar F23

As a continuation of my old lorry appreciation posts, I will be sharing about one of the most common trucks on our roads. Nissan trucks have always been one of the crucial movers of our economy: the intermediate goods that contributes to the end product among our midst [such as barrels, ladders, paint cans], not to mention the ferrying of migrant workers that help to build our infrastructure that we take for granted. This humble 1998 Nissan Cabstar F23 has been through a lot, but none of you would recognise the importance it has in our history.

The Nissan Cabstar, or technically known as the Nissan Atlas in Japan, is a small and medium-duty truck sold by Nissan Motors. The Cabstar name was used to refer to another series of trucks made between 1968 to 1982. The "Atlas" name refers to the Greek god Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders; it alludes to Nissan's aim of having this truck carry the country, both figuratively and literally.

Currently, there are 3 generations of the smaller Cabstar/Atlas and I am sure most of you have seen them before. The 2nd generation was known as the F23 series and was made between 1992 to 2007. It was powered by a 3153 cc QD32 i4 diesel engine and was 4460 mm long. Its unladen weight was 1620 kg while the maximum laden weight was more than twice at 3350 kg.

Some of you may be wondering why this particular truck is considered a classic when there are still many of them on the road. Let's compare the above with this model here made in 2005. There was a facelift done in 1999, and as you can see, the lights became trapezoidal rather than rectangular, while the Nissan logo was now part of the grille. The bumpers were also changed as a result although it is hard to see from here. Another clue is by looking at the number plate: GQ to GT plates were issued between 1998 to 2000, while GU to GZ plates were issued between 2000 to 2005.

A check on the database revealed that the lorry had been scrapped on October 2018, since it has already reached its 20-year lifespan. This makes it all the more pertinent to see them before they are definitely gone in a few years time. It is a pity that most people do not care about lorries simply because they are not as cool as a car. I hope this has been informative to you and personally, I feel I have done my part in capturing a piece of history that future generations could look back at [if we are not using lorries anymore]...