26 August 2019

More than an old car #115: Bentley Turbo R

Although you may know that I prefer common workhorses, I do appreciate rarities from time to time such as this 1990 Bentley Turbo R! I did not recognise what Bentley it was initially, only that it looked old. After further research, it turned out to be a rather uncommon gem...

The Turbo R, first introduced in 1985, was derived from its predecessor, the Mulsanne Turbo. However, the R (which incidentally stands for "Roadholding") ended up being more popular than the original Turbo due to its superior road handling, such as increasing the stiffness of the anti-roll bars and further anchoring of the rear frame. In 1989, a facelift saw the introduction of quad round headlights (compared to squarish ones previously) and a more pronounced front spoiler.

It was powered by a 6750 cc Bentley V8 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 225 km/h, with an acceleration of 7.4 seconds [0-100 km/h]. As with most high-end luxury cars at that time, the Turbo R was quite long at 5278 mm and weighed in at 2410 kg. Its fuel consumption was naturally on the higher end, coming in at 25.6 litres per 100 km.

Production of the Turbo R ended in 1997 with 4,458 made, of which 2,175 were in RHD. However, I believe this is the only unit left in Singapore: when the 1st owner sold the car back in 2011, it only had 2905 km of mileage! Evidently, it was not driven much and well taken care of. Old Bentleys give off a very classy yet unassuming vibe, which I feel differs from a Rolls Royce. I don't know whether you'll get to see this someday, but perhaps you may chance upon it randomly...?

15 August 2019

More than an old car #114: Toyota Echo

For every exotic/striking old car out there, there are a lot more workhorses that don't get the love it deserves. Such an example would be this 1999 Toyota Echo that may not have struck you as a classic car...

The Toyota Echo, or more commonly known as the Vitz/Yaris, was first conceived in 1998 by Toyota in Europe, and unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1999. "Vitz" is a coined word that combines "vivid" and "Witz" ('witness' in German) and "Yaris" was derived from Charis, the Greek god of beauty. JDM versions were called Vitz as it was easier to pronounce compared to Yaris, and units sold in the Australasia region were branded as an Echo.

Its main selling point was its cost and appeal as a small family car, and innovative features such as decent interior space and collision safety performance greatly appealed to customers. This sparked off a boom in 5-door compact cars such as the perennial Honda Fit/Jazz and Nissan March for instance. Some time in 2001, the Echo received a facelift where the black rubber bumper was noticeably removed. It was powered by a 998 cc 1SZ-FE i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 155 km/h, with an acceleration of 13.6 seconds. It was 3609 mm long and weighed only 855 kg, with a decent fuel consumption of 6.9 litres per 100 km.

Production of the Echo ended in 2005, where all the subsequent 2nd-generation units were renamed to Yaris. This unit still sports its original registration number and I believe the owner has intention to keep it for the long run. The Echo was first sold in Singapore in 1999 by Borneo Motors, our local Toyota dealer at a rather pricey S$90,000 inclusive of COE [S$120,202 in today's money]. However, not many still remain as owners proceeded to upgrade to better cars over the years. I found it by accident when passing by; it's definitely a car that is unlikely to attract any attention because of how ordinary it looks. However, now that you've known about this, maybe you'll get to see others on the road too!

9 August 2019

More than an old car #113: Honda NSX

Although Honda is rather well-known for making the typical passenger cars we travel in/use today, they have a long-standing reputation of pushing their limits in creating machines that appeal to speed-lovers. It was with some surprise that I saw this 1992 Honda NSX randomly at a parking lot!

The NSX was first conceived in 1984, when Honda commissioned Pininfarina to create a sports car that could rival those from Italy and Germany, specifically Ferrari's 328 model. Initially known as the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental), its name was changed to NSX (New Sports eXperimental). Many engines and designs were analysed in order to achieve the desired level of performance and reliability. Shigeru Uehara, the chief engineer for the project, was inspired by the 360-degree visibility available in the F16 fighter jet: the result was a impressive 311.8-degree horizontal view from the driver's seat. Furthermore, it featured a revolutionary aluminium frame, reducing the weight by some 200 kg.

It was unveiled to the public in 1989 to much positive reviews and was on sale from 1990 onwards. It was initially assembled at the Tochigi plant up till 2004, where it was moved to Suzuka for the remainder of its life. Some units were subject to rigorous testing on the track, notably done by the famous race driver Ayrton Senna: he provided feedback such as further stiffening of the chassis that led to the success of the NSX. In the US, it was rebranded as the Acura NSX, in a bid to be perceived as a luxury car. In 2002, the pop-up headlights were changed to fixed headlamps in order to modernise its look. Units were initially powered by a 2997 cc Honda C30A V6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 260 km/h, with an acceleration of 6.7 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4430 mm long and weighed 1390 kg, despite looking rather massive at first.

Production of the 1st-generation NSX ended in 2005, with around 18,000 units sold over its lifetime. This unit is 1 of 5 remaining in Singapore, although a post-facelift unit existed some time back before being exported. I understand this is owned by a CEO of a public hospital here. According to its VIN, it was equipped with an automatic transmission and power steering. Interestingly, the NSX first debuted here in the 1990 Singapore Motor Show, although there is no information to indicate it was officially sold here. It is certainly a rare kind here, although you may have a higher chance of seeing this on the road from what I heard!