22 April 2022

More than an old car #190: Suzuki Wagon R+

The 90s was a game-changing period for Japanese cars: the variety of vehicles churned out continues to fascinate the world even till today. Amidst it all, there were many others that flew under the radar such as this 1998 Suzuki Wagon R+!

First introduced in 1993, the Wagon R was revolutionary in the mini vehicle market. Until then, most of them were either short or uncomfortable (as they were based off commercial vehicle models). The Wagon R featured raised seats, which reduced the feeling of oppression without the need to bend one's legs, and a single step was also incorporated which made entry and exit smooth. It also shared parts with many other Suzuki vehicles in the name of cost control, which was partially inspired by Volkswagen. Its name is a wordplay on 'wagons also are', since there are sedans but there are also wagons. The R also stood for 'revolutionary' and 'recreation', which made reference to the reason why the car was designed in the first place.

Initially, the Wagon R was only available in '1+2 door' format (i.e. without the rear right door) and came without headrests. The regular 5-door version was introduced in 1996 and a facelift was applied to the front end in 1997. It was also around this time that a wider and longer version known as the Wagon R+ / Wagon R Wide was introduced. Initially, it had four horizontal slats for the front end, before it was facelifted in 1998 to resemble that of the regular Wagon R. No longer a kei car, the Wagon R+ was powered by a 996 cc K10A i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 140 km/h. It was 3410 mm long and weighed 845 kg, with a fuel consumption of 7.6 litres / 100 km

Production of the 1st-generation Wagon R+ ended in 1999, where it was succeeded by the next-generation model (also known as the Solio). The R+ was sold here in 1998, and it was around this time that the COEs for small cars was in short supply. There are about 3 units that still remain; this particular one was scrapped shortly after I saw it. Though it may look inconspicuous at first glance, there is something about its ordinariness that has always caught my eye. Its van-like shape belies its age and makes the realisation all the more better. Perhaps you will be able to catch the remaining ones on the road someday!

8 April 2022

More than an old car #189: Triumph TR6

Recently, I was reminded on Google Photos that it has been 4 years since I took some photos. While scrolling through the archives, I happened to find this 1970 Triumph TR6 which I had somehow taken even though I could not recall exactly when, so it was a nice surprise...

First introduced in 1969, the TR6 was the spiritual successor to the TR5 and it was Triumph's cost effective way of updating its traditional TR sports car line for the 70s. Designed by Karmann on a budget, it had an effective nose and face-lift from its predecessors with the middle end remaining unchanged. Available only as a 2-door convertible, a removable hardtop was subsequently designed in-house. The 2.5 litre engine was available in both fuel-injection and carburettor form, although the latter was mainly for the US market.

The car was subject to change in every year of production: 1969 models had a body-coloured windscreen and chrome engine covers, while 1970 ones had the option of wire-spoke wheels like the above unit. Wiper arms became matte black instead of chrome in 1973 and headrests were made standard. In 1975, the front bumper was raised and the front lights were lowered as well.

The TR6 was powered by a 2498 cc straight-6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 119 mph with an acceleration of 8.2 seconds [0-60 mph]. It was 3950 mm long and weighed 1130 kg, with a fuel consumption of 20 miles per gallon.

Production of the TR6 ended in 1976 with 91,850 made: interestingly, about 80% were exported and a fair proportion were destined for the US market. They are still popular at least in the UK, with about 4000 still registered on the road. Some TR6s also made their way to Singapore back in the day, although they did not appear to have been brought in by dealers. A local review in 1969 praised its decent boot space (considering that such cars usually had a small boot), and the zip-fastener in the rear window helped to provide fresh air for the occupants. However, none have remained till today: this unit appears to be an import. 

TR6s are often regarded as the last Triumph sports car: the TR7 that followed was greeted with much disappointment from enthusiasts. As with British cars from that era, they are fun and zippy to drive, although rust remains as a perennial mortal enemy. They are regarded as the bridge between the past and modernity, with better performance and yet easily accessible to the enthusiast. Classic British sports cars never fail to disappoint and I hope you will have the chance to see this rarity on the road!