Defying Exorbitant Costs and Government Hurdles, Singaporean Car Aficionados Harbor Hidden Automotive Jewels.
Picture Singapore, and you're likely envisioning a gleaming city-state synonymous with opulence, yet notoriously stringent when it comes to owning a vehicle. Here, "Carpe Diem" takes on a whole new meaning; you practically need a golden ticket—otherwise known as a Certificate of Entitlement (COE)—to seize the wheel. Priced at an eye-watering 130,000 SGD (around $95,000), these coveted permits last only a decade. Add to that, staggering car prices, taxes, and duties, and you've got a scenario that seems pretty hostile for automotive enthusiasts.
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And yet, beneath the glitzy veneer of skyscrapers and cutting-edge tech, there exists a subculture of hardcore car fanatics. These are not mere mortals content with mundane modes of transportation; these are the crusaders of cubic centimeters and champions of chassis.
Darren Ong is a case in point—a man whose love for JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) cars knows no bounds. His garage, a veritable temple of automotive worship, houses a rainbow of gems: from multiple Mitsubishi Evolutions to a Honda NSX. Renewing the COEs for his collection would easily run north of a million dollars. Yes, you read that right, a million. But for Ong, the passion for pistons surpasses the pain of payment.
Then there's Steven, a local legend who mingles with the community while casually owning a Huayra Roadster worth a staggering 14 million SGD (about $10.3 million). His GT-R 50 by Ital Design, colored in Ironman hues, is reportedly the only one of its kind in Asia. When you've got a car that looks like it could take flight with Tony Stark, it's clear you're in a league of your own.
And what about the enigmatic collector whose identity is shrouded in the kind of secrecy that would make James Bond envious? This anonymous aficionado has a stable of vehicles that have been MIA for years—a collection so extravagant, so elusive, it's as if they've been swallowed by folklore. It's an assortment that flaunts a McLaren P1, a Ferrari LaFerrari, and even a Pagani Zonda Tricolore, among others.
The tales of these vehicular vaults were unearthed by Hagerty's Larry Chen, who took it upon himself to probe Singapore's labyrinthine automotive underworld. And thank goodness he did. For these collections offer a glimpse into a paradox: a place where prohibitive policies meet unbridled passion, where the mundane transforms into the magnificent, and where the unlikely becomes the unbelievable.
So, the next time you're flummoxed by Singapore's paradoxical stance on cars, remember: here, automotive dreams don't die; they merely go underground to sparkle in clandestine garages.