Singapore is an island state just 17 miles wide and 31 miles long. Home to five million people, space is a luxury, as is owning a car. Singapore holds the title of the most expensive place in the world to buy a new car with prices two to three times that of the rest of the world. Car ownership also requires a certificate of entitlement that increases in cost graded on engine capacity. This all means that a modest BMW 116i with the requisite certificate, costs a bed wetting £90,000. The certificate of entitlement runs for ten years. After that you need to obtain another one. No certificate, and your car is off to the scrapyard.

                           
Despite an excellent, expansive, air conditioned metro system, the lovely people of Singapore still enjoy their motors. With 48 hours we set out to explore the city and snap some random street scenes of everyday Singapore car culture, plus some bonus tank action. 

Downtown financial district.
Let’s go where the money is to find some fancy wheels. Marina Bay and the financial district offered some plush hotels and some usual suspects. 


Maybe this Ferrari driver is moonlighting to meet his payments, but I’m calling it “Fake Taxi”

It’s great to see a Lambo that’s painted a colour you don’t find in a bag of Skittles. The stealth bomber shade of grigio lynx, on this Huracan Evo looked the business.


R8 outside the Fullerton Hotel. Basically, a Gallardo in a sober Audi suit, used R8 prices are reaching a point where you can’t help but take a second look. I’ll take a manual with the gated shift please.



The Fullerton hotel has a fleet of old Rolls . They looked in first rate condition, albeit a little dusty. Time to sack the chauffeur?



ChinaTown
We weren’t looking for cars here, rather cheap eats, so stumbling on this Lambo made for a pleasant surprise.



Little India
This district is all hustle and bustle with, flowers, spices, tailoring, gold bling, and a plethora of murals adorning the thirties era buildings.

               

           

We recommend the butter chicken masala and ginger spiced chai. Saucy cars however were in short supply. Sensible Toyotas ruled the streets, sprinkled with middle of the road offerings from Audi, BMW and a solitary Jag. Standout on our visit goes to the delivery driver in the “Painkiller” a chromed up Mitsubishi Fuso delivering booze for thirsty revellers at the nightclub.



Bencoolen
This district was a favourite for its mix of old and new architecture.

               

Old shops have been turned into craft beer boozers for students at the local university and art school. Thoughtfully, there’s a vending machine for toasted sandwiches should the munchies strike. 

They also have ones that dispense mashed potato, or at least, that’s what I think it was. 

Just down the road from the cheese toastie maker is a tower of wonder

A vertical garage that doubles as a car art installation and advertising hoarding. Sadly, the owner who runs a prestige car sales business wasn’t at home. This garage hosts his own collection. He clearly leans towards Ferrari. Rolls here too, the Shadow looks minty but there’s one that looks in delightfully disreputable condition, and what’s going on with that Porsche race car? Apologies for the murky pics, the tower glass was heavily tinted. Lit by night, it makes an alluring beacon for car enthusiasts.

 

Authorised graffiti on the ground floor.

Out on the road we came across this Honda E.

I love these for being the first modern electric car that didn’t resemble a used bar of soap. Retro modern styling that evoked the original baby Honda should have made this a big seller. Steep pricing killed a lot of initial enthusiasm, and then there’s the battery range. Honda took a (Gen 1) leaf out of Nissan’s book. With a, Honda stated, range of 140 miles you can’t wander far from a plug socket.  With only 12500 cars built, it has potential as a future niche classic.


Lee Keng Road
Between the MRT stations of Redhill and Queenstown,  Lee Keng Road is a prime prestige car shopping spot. I skipped the Lamborghini garage as we’ve seen some already. The Ferrari garage next door had these two lovelies outside, both over a million Singapore dollars.

             
The new Mclaren 650s. Not sure how much it goes for, but they do have a used Artura in flux green with 26000 km for 1.168 million Singapore dollars – around 680K in British pounds. Ouch.


Alpine, we want one. We caught this one nipping out for a spin wearing enormous trade plates.


We’re calling this lovely 1966 Beetle as our favourite classic of the trip. Easy win , it’s the only classic we saw actually out and about.

           

           

To classify for historic status, cars have to be 35 years old. Historic cars can only be driven for a set number of days a year. The owner must purchase a day use licence at ten dollars or £6 a day Normally you can purchase only up to twenty eight of these per year and display the licence in your car. How dreary.

Telok Ayer
Back into the city to Telok Ayer. Rubbing up against the financial district, it’s streets feature classic old Singapore buildings and historic temples. By night it’s a café / restaurant society hotspot.  We found this Porsche outside the Temple of Heavenly Happiness.

Kia Stinger GT-S,

wearing the latest scorpion package (wheels. Spoiler, trim accents) and in ‘look at me!’ Pearlescent yellow. I rather like it. It looks great on a dark street, maybe a bit daft if you’re in the Cotswolds. The Stinger has been discontinued in the UK. It will be replaced by something electric. Meanwhile, the rest of the world  can continue to hoon this 3.3 V6 twin turbo version. Lucky sods.

Sharp looking Honda


Do we like the green stripes?

             

Bentley, basking in the shadows

City Centre

Not a military coup, rather a parade for national celebrations. One of two hundred Singapore model, Leopard tanks.


and these chaps from Special Ops.

Nobody has ever told them ” you can’t park there mate” Singapore has its own defence industry and a standing and reserve army of 300,000

 Millenia Walk

In the midnight hour, and the blat blat of aftermarket exhausts is a reminder that in any city, your rarely more than five feet away from a modded Japanese import. These guys have paid 40k just to be “entitled” to buy a car. I reckon that entitles them to make a little noise. 

         

There’s a strong JDM scene in Singapore where the enthusiasts know just about every car on the island. When a Skyline  can cost half a million, they tend to be driven on special days only, making it tricky to catch them in the wild. We hope to be back one day to try our luck again.

 

images Steve Swanson

 

About The Author

Steve Swanson

Steve turns any opportunity to write about cars into a roadtrip. It's seen him ride shotgun in a Bentley Blower with Clive Cussler, and cross paths with automotive YouTubers in Canada and the US. His work has been published in Magneto, Classic Cars, Classic American and some magazines that no MotorPunk reader has ever heard of. When he's not writing or driving you can find him kicking tyres at seedy auctions and hawking junk optimistically described as Automobilia

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