Singapore Nightlife & Car Culture
Grass Is Greener

While Southern California has some of the best car culture in the world, anyone who lives there will know just how strict the laws regarding modifying street cars and what can and can’t be registered are. I’ve always been envious of other States because of this, as in many places you can get away with crazy motor swaps or drive rare imported cars without the authorities even blinking an eye.

But as much as I thought that car culture in California was heavily regulated, my perception changed when I visited Singapore for the first time…


I’ve traveled to 26 different countries since I’ve become a Speedhunter, so I’ve had the chance to experience car culture all over the world. If you guys are regular readers then you’ll already know how crazy we are for Scandinavian car culture – specifically in Norway. But as many of my Norwegian friends say, ‘Everything fun is illegal in Norway.’ That is a country where you can’t even put lowering springs in your street car without getting hassled by the authorities, and even snowmobiles are illegal (no joke). Then there’s the outrageous taxes on new and used cars based on engine size… But as tough as those in Norway have it, the regulations don’t even hold a candle to what car enthusiasts in Singapore have to live with…


In a way it’s understandable that Singapore is so strict on controlling the cars on the road. After all, there’s only 277 square miles to this country, yet it’s home to 5.5 million people. Quite simply, there just isn’t enough room to play with cars here. Somehow though, the petrol heads in Singapore manage to still band together and enjoy car culture – but it comes with a cost.


For example, in North America the manufacturer suggested retail price of a Toyota GT-86 (or Scion FR-S) is US$25,900. If you were to purchase the same car in Singapore right now, it would cost around $128,000. That’s USD, not Singapore dollars! And it gets even better… You only get to have the car on the road for 10 years, unless you’re willing to pay an exorbitant amount to keep it for another decade.


It’s called a Certificate of Entitlement, or COE, and every car in Singapore requires one to be road legal. If you don’t pay and get caught, the authorities will take your car to the scrapyard and crush it.


These regulations are in place to keep the number of cars on the road to a minimum, and to ensure that the fleet is kept modern. Why is the COE so expensive? Well, the government only makes a certain number of them available, and car dealerships have to bid on them which drives up the price. Everyone has to pay the same amount as the highest bid, so it fluctuates depending on the season. At the moment a COE costs about US$60,000, but of course, it could go up even higher!


So let’s say you want to buy a 2007 FD2 Honda Civic Type R. A car like this would cost around US$55,000 in Singapore, but because of its age and the fact that a COE only lasts for a decade, in three more years the owner will have to pay another US$60,000 or thereabouts if they want to keep it on the road. There are a few ways around these outrageous prices, but I will touch on those shortly…

Making Friends

The reason why I was in South East Asia in the first place was to promote my new Formula Drift Asia book, which was on sale in downtown Singapore at the Shaw House Center.


With the help of Formula Drift Asia’s President and founder, Marcus Lim, I set up my very first photo gallery. The photo book was on sale for the weekend and the proceeds went to charity. We chose Camp Vision – a non-profit organization geared towards helping at-risk youth in Singapore.


Many fans came by, as well as a few Formula Drift Asia drivers – including Benjamin Chiam who drives an awesome Toyota Supra with NASCAR-inspired livery.


Overall, I was very happy how the gallery turned out. We sold almost 200 books over the course of the weekend, and all for a great cause.


Our goal at Speedhunters is to showcase local car culture and scenes from all across the world. If it’s cool and it’s car related, we want to hear about it. So I was ecstatic to make friends with a few people from the local tuner scene.


After the gallery showing and being stuffed full of some of the best Chinese food outside of China, I was greeted at my hotel by Godzilla. This build was actually inspired by our very own Dino’s Project GT-R, although the owner does not have red RAYS Volk Racing TE37RT wheels that you guys love so much.


The absolute worst part of my job is the traveling, so since I was primarily in Singapore for the photo gallery I left my full camera kit at home. Of course, I couldn’t be completely empty handed though, so had brought one camera body and two lenses (a standard and a wide zoom) with me.


We drove for just a few minutes before stopping at a parking lot filled with cars – not the sort you would normally see on the road in Singapore though.


With such strict car ownership regulations, I did not expect to stumble across such a strong tuner culture. A standard Toyota Corolla costs over US$100,000 new here, so can you imagine what a Subaru Impreza WRX STI runs for?!


One of the things I noticed was that none of the cars had their hoods popped, which is the norm for late-night meets, right? There’s a good reason for that though, as if Singapore’s Transit Police drop by and see that your car is modified, they can force an inspection. Even being ratted out through an identifying photograph is enough for the authorities to take action, which is precisely why I took the liberty to blur out all the license plates.


You might be wondering what the deal with older cars like this AE86 is. Well, the COE has been paid twice already to keep this car on the road in Singapore, but it’s up for renewal in two years. So, if the owner wants to drive it for another decade, he will have to cough up another large wad of cash.


Believe it or not, this is the very last AE86 Trueno three-door hatchback in Singapore – all the others were crushed when their COE expired. If you don’t have the money for a COE but really want to keep your car, there is a loophole in the law that a few have figured out.


Some desperate owners have driven their cars into Malaysia and paid a shop to store it, and then reported it stolen back in Singapore. Of course, the car can then only be driven in Malaysia and on the track, not the road. Desperate times call for desperate measures as they say.


So why not import more AE86s from Japan then? Well, you could, but given their age they would need to be registered as a classic car, which only allows a few days out of the year in which they can be driven on the street. If you want to import something like an R34 Skyline, you’re going to be out of luck, as you can only import cars that are just a few years old. It is why there are only nine BNR34 GT-Rs left in Singapore.


We cruised around in a group of about 20 or so cars before ending up at a very popular meeting point. By now it was already 1:00am.


There were all sorts of cars, and I could not imagine how expensive some of these would be to own.


Quite a few cars at the meet proudly displayed track day badges to signify that their street machine sees the light of Sepang Circuit, or other Malaysian race tracks.


Soon the police showed up of course, and one by one the cars rolled out in orderly fashion. No one was worried though because, unlike the transit Police, local cops have no authority to hand out citations for modified cars.


If you were wondering, only right-hand drive cars are allowed on the road in Singapore. There are two Ferrari Enzos, a few Mclaren P1s, and even a Mclaren F1 in the country. Because they’re all left-hand drive (Or middle drive), though, none of them can see street use. They just sit in garages collecting dust.


A predetermined route was planned out for the early-morning drive and our group quickly grew to around 80 cars strong.


At this point it really did remind me of the days when I first got my driver’s license and cruised around the streets of Los Angeles at night with my friends. We would drive for hours, but never ran out of road.


It’s somewhat different in Singapore of course, and you’re limited to the network of roads on the tiny island. So we drove to the airport and back a few times, as it was the longest stretch of road in Singapore.


While the rest of the city slept, we blasted through the tunnels and roadways.


We even came across a gang of motorcycles that seemed to have a similar plan.


Given this place is so small, we were bound to drive through the major intersection where my photo gallery was. Just a few hours earlier I was at that very spot signing books and chatting with fans, but at this moment we were blasting through the streets of Singapore like we were on the Wangan.


Eventually, the group split up and we ended up with the original 20 cars that we started with. The Singapore Grand Prix was held just a week earlier so we parked right in front of the main grandstands. Just in case you guys were wondering, that Bayside Blue beauty would fetch a cool US$200,000 if it was put up for sale, but I have a feeling the owner is going to hold onto it until it’s the very last one in Singapore.


This group of tight-knit friends help keep car culture in Singapore alive and well, and I am very glad that I met each and every one of them. It’s just too bad I can’t mention any of their names. It was 4:30am now which meant it was time for some dim sum.


Swee Choon Dim Sum is open all night and it’s one of the local hot spots to frequent after the clubs. While every other table had guys and gals dressed to the nines and tipsy from a night of drinking, we were a table of car enthusiasts sharing stories of our fun-filled night over some delicious plates of food.

Local Fare

Before I left Singapore I met up with one of the editors at Rev magazine, which is probably the largest tuner magazine in Singapore.


Aaron Hia is also a photographer so we had quite a bit in common. Plus, we both love Taiwanese-style pancakes – although I’ve never had them dipped in curry before…


One of Speedhunters’ past Editor in Chiefs, Charles Kha, toured Singapore while he was on the job and visited one of the largest performance garages in the country.  Singapore actually reminds me of Japan in that it’s not really commonplace to work on your own car. You don’t even wash your own car or change your own oil – a lot of which can be put down to a lack of space. So before I left, I wanted to check out some of the local shops responsible for tuning the cars that I encountered a few nights earlier.


Aaron picked me up in his Suzuki Swift and took me to the outskirts of town and a huge multi-level complex filled to the brim with different mechanic shops. While most of them cater towards OEM maintenance, a few specialize in tuning and servicing for performance. That Supra in the background? The very last example in Singapore…


Aaron is a bit of a track day junkie himself and when he picked me up, his Swift was still running on semi slicks from his last day out at Sepang Circuit. Our destination was Lye Designs – a well known shop in the local scene.


‘Uncle Lye’ is regarded as the Nakai-san of Singapore. He’s been running this half body shop, half race-prep workshop for decades. If you want your car restored or modified the right way at a fair price, he’s the guy you come and see.


It’s an honor to have your car worked on by the legend himself, and although there’s not a huge amount of room in the workshop, Uncle Lye always has plenty of projects on the go.


You guessed it – he has one of the last FC3S Mazda RX-7 in the country, which is currently undergoing a full restoration for one lucky customer. There are only five left on the road. When the car first came into the workshop it was in horrible shape with multiple layers of old paint covering the body. But because it’s one of the last of its kind here, there’s no way it could be scrapped. It’s going to take time to rebuild it from the ground up but it will definitely be cool to see it back on Singapore streets.


Also in the shop was this very nicely built Evo – a car that currently holds the AWD Turbo Street class time attack record at Sepang Circuit with a 2’24’839 lap. For comparison’s sake, Aaron’s Suzuki Swift clocks in at 3’01. This car will be shot for Rev magazine soon so keep an eye out for it if you are local.


Along with building and servicing cars, Uncle Lye offers technical support at the track.


This FD2 Honda Civic Type R that competed in the recent 2014 Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (aka the Sepang 12 Hour) was in the shop for some race damage repairs.


Aaron and I walked around for a little while until we came across one of his friend’s cars that we saw a few nights earlier. Yes, it is the last EF Honda Civic SiR in Singapore…


There are a few other examples, but they’re just replicas and not a genuine EF9 like this one. It’s been tastefully upgraded too.


Singapore enthusiasts are on a whole different level in terms of commitment. Paying COE of around $60,000 for something like this Civic SiR is beyond loving your machine. It’s an obsession, and I truly admire the passion for car culture here.


As one of the guys said, ‘We don’t do drugs, we don’t gamble, and we don’t cause trouble. We just love cars and hanging out with friends. What’s wrong with that?’


My quick visit to Singapore really opened my eyes and gave me a new appreciation for the freedoms we have with automobiles in California. I bought my 1970 240Z for $3000 when I was 20, and every year my registration is $50. My friends in Singapore will never know what that is like because there is not a single 240Z in the country! Even if someone did fork over the money to import one, they could then only drive it on select days in the year.


Which brings me to a question for all you Speedhunters out there: do you live in a country that is even more regulated than Singapore when it comes to enjoying cars as a hobby? Coming from the land of beater cars and cheap registration, this is all new to me…

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto



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in terms of car culture, Singapore and Malaysia have a better taste than Indonesia.

Note: I'm indonesian


Save the last EF9!


Hey guy still has it. Still see it in the multi-story carpark in front of my house


Hi I'm currently in Singapore now and I was hoping if you knew of any car meets coming up anytime soon?


This is one quadrillion dollars worth of cars and mods. Watched several car docs on the financial lengths owners have to go to to own a car. Modding is a whole different beast. Gotta love the commitment.


This is one quadrillion dollars worth of cars and mods. Watched several car docs on the financial lengths owners have to go to to own a car. Modding is a whole different beast. Gotta love the commitment.


Dont worry that EF9 still has a long way to go. And its in good hands ;)


Mad Respect! I salute each and every one of you.


Why isn't car culture near me so rich?!


I have always wanted to some day live or work in a place like Singapore/Hong Kong...but my love of cars has always prohibited me from seriously considering it! But I do love the culture and lifestyle there, aside from cars.


Thanks Larry for the write up about the pain we go through in "owning" a car here in fact we don't own a car in Singapore but "lease" it from the government for 10 years, then "renew" the lease again at the end of 10 years for another 10....Glad you enjoyed the trip down and am honoured to be one of the 20 included in your shoot...cheers


I always thought that my country, Spain, was one of the worst places to be a car enthusiast. We have a lot of taxes, one car inspection for year, and you need to keep it stock. But wow! Be a petrolhead in Singapore it's almost impossible. It's really good to see how this people fight against the law to keep their beautiful machines alive. Don't let die those incredible cars, you are an inspiration to the rest of us! (Sorry for my bad english)


great article... learn something new everyday


Aww man, you should take a time and jump across the causeway to Johor Bharu. The nightlife car culture is as vibrant as Singapore too.


Aww man, you should take a time and jump across the causeway to Johor Bharu. The nightlife car culture is as vibrant as Singapore too.


Not entirely accurate but close enough :)


muhammadilham yeah indonesian still more ricer problem.... rather than SG or MY.... they`re no ricer


Excellent coverage Larry and this is quite a good representation of what the car culture is in Singapore. Many think its insane but well, we only LIVE once and as far as it goes, we will do what we can to keep that dream alive. Thanks for sharing this article. Indeed, we only 'lease' our car from the government in that we have a fixed timeline for the cars we own.Ridiculous? Perhaps... But i suppose one has got to be a little crazy or obsessed to love cars in a place like Singapore. 



AbelTan Thanks, and i'd love to come back to cruise with you guys again on national day.


Larry Chen AbelTan Hah, Excellent. That itself is worth a trip down to Singapore. You've just seen the tip of the iceberg. 

PS: there is more than one AE86 and RX7 FC3S still around in Singapore. 

Check it out:


PatrickLim I thought about it today actually. I am sure normal people don't consider owning a car for over ten years, but like me, you guys are not normal either. I've owned my 240z for ten years now, and my pickup truck as well. You just fall in love with a machine, and it's hard to let it go. 

I feel your pain!


AbelTan Yup, someone already pointed it out about the FC. Although I heard that the other AE86 are not hatchbacks and the other ones are levins. I could be wrong though.


Larry Chen AbelTan Ben's AE86 is possibly the only one that is actively running the roads. I know of two other AE86s but they've disappeared under the radar since 2 years ago.
FC3S-wise, a Japanese tuner hides away his gaggle of these machines away. One of the R34 owners that night (a white one) owns a FC3S too.
There is actually an RX-3 as well, but due to time constraints and the lack of prior scheduling, we couldn't plan a visit. Next time when you're over, we'll do a proper one. :)


Larry Chen AbelTan Amazing Godzilla soundgasm in tunnel;0


The cars facing extinction at the moment are the Lancer Evolution IXs, as well as the Impreza WRX GD models, these have less than 2 years on their lifespan before they're dutifully scrapped or exported. Sadly, the one next in line is the Honda Civic FD2 Type R, about 3 years left.
We are always caught between a rock and a hard place; should we tune or upgrade our machines, given the very short lifespan left before we scrap/sell/export them? The financial factor ALWAYS come into play and honestly, it hurts. Even if it is a simple Honda Fit, a Suzuki Swift, we still love them like our other halves.
What makes it harder to grow our own individual tuning identities is the presence of menacing arm of the transport authorities, whom the government empowers with the authorisation to haul your vehicle back for inspection as they wish. Many have had close calls or been slapped with fines that they simply give up; selling their performance machines and going back to stock, common vehicles to avoid the constant and intense scrutiny of the authorities.


Larry Chen PatrickLim Car enthusiast think alike...some ppl thot I was crazy and are amazed that I have had my S15 for 12 yrs and I am the first owner...I just hope and pray that when 2022 comes, I will have the resources to keep it on the road...BTW, I think the 240Z is awesome...hope to see you soon in Singapore again, sorry I couldn't continue on that night to join u guys for dim sum


I LIKE. The cost to keep our cars on the road is insane, but as a car lover, I love the fact that other owners still find their way around this and make the time and effort. It is only through them that our "Nightlife & Car Culture" will survive!!!


Just out of curiosity, what wouldUSD$100k buy in the US?


LouisSoon R35 GT-R plus some change, maybe a dingy murcielago, two nice NSX's, four Corvette Z06's, $128k will buy quite alot of kit here in the US


Awesome piece. Thanks for visiting our little dot on the map and covering the cool boys!


LouisSoon top of the line R35 GT-R and fully loaded GT86. haha.


my god am i ever happy to live in north america. and even better Canada


What states don't even bat an eye if you import a car? I'm guessing florida is one of them? Over here every now and then I see an S15, and a white R34.


A band of rebels more badass than what can possibly be found anywhere else, sporting most of the last of the Great Breed of Japanese Sports Cars that live in this particular habitat...


I mean, in other places (say, UK) you can buy a used hachi for just a few K quid, and these guys' cars are valued for as much as a Ferrari!

I am just impressed with their dedication.

Now, here in the Philippines, there are sports cars rotting in some ports. Heist, you want?


muhammadilham Nah, You get the point. All in my eyes now the car is too slammed or too ricer. Don't get me wrong, I like slammed car too but You road in Indo like what and I really hate the car when they ride too slow in front of me. Just few people who made the car with their good style.


My only problem with where I live is that me and my 2 lovely neighbours all drive Bugatti Veyrons. I payed all this money for exclusivity and this is what I get. The frustration is real. Do I have to be Ralph Lauren to have a rare car? I am thinking about buying a Toyota Camry just to be different...


UWerqxTeam_MJ Not to brag about it, but in my region you could buy a hachi for a few squids (not even quids)...


That's why no one runs a LSx in Singapore hahaha


remind me to only visit Singapore and never move there. I thought California was bad!


i just sold my 8 years suzuki swift sport for 22k sgd and bought a 21 year old eg6 for 36k sgd. could be the craziest thing and the best thing i have ever done in my car career. hope to be able to keep the eg6 for life even with my last penny and dime.


I don't know if I should be happy or sad
On one hand, we don't have to pay so much for cars in Vietnam
On the other hand, we don't have cars in Vietnam


muhammadilham depends on what you've been looking for


Larry Chen Tate_
Ok, i hate you all in the US


TyeSabean  Sounds like motoring heaven, but Im guessing you can still only drive a nicely tuned car half the year because of weather...


Why not use your $100,00+ to move out of that horrible shithole AND buy the car you wanted to anyway? Those people that live there and endure the laws must be literal masochists.


Am I the only one wondering what kind of salary these guys must be on in Singapore to be able to afford these "luxuries" ?? Just seems like a crazy amount of money to have in the first place...


Find us on FB at JDM Legends SG or JDM Central and like our page


Do the cars really get scrapped?
It strikes me as incredibly wasteful when they could certainly be imported to the UK & Ireland as whole cars quite possibly Cyprus too ( and maybe imported back to japan??) imported as parts to Australia..
Annual taxation is bad-ish in the UK and insurance effectively prevents younger people from owning anything remotely powerful (for example it could easily cost an 18 year old $3,000 to insure a 90bhp Ford Fiesta(!)).
But clearly it's not a patch on Singapore.
In reality the UK is very libertarian. It's only the idiots who have any real trouble (speeding in residential areas, rough cut 'fenders', parts of the car dragging on the floor..).


@Brisk If they can't get exported, they end up in the scrap is wasteful but unless someone is willing to pay the price for the body and shipping, that's the only other way
Some cars which have a history of accidents, will end up with pretty high and ridiculous insurance companies will only cover you for Fire and Theft if your car is more than 10 yrs old, no comprehensive


Mathjos21 If you think car prices and crazy, wait til you hear about property prices


Oh ok - so if it's an evo or something of value (let's face ae86s are worth a decent amount in the UK) then they are exported but we're talking about run of the mill cars and as we would say 'sheds'..!
Btw, in terms if trying to keep under police radar... That white ae86 might want to consider matching front and rear wheels if they don't want the 5-0 being alerted to them!


Very nice article and pictures of course. It is a little bit sad that sometimes you can't keep your car, even if you want it so much because their absurd rules..

This is really sad and bad.. I feel very luck that i live Europe......


PatrickLim Interesting Patrick.
Thanks for sharing.


PatrickLim You mean the 99 year lease?


@ITB Singapore is probably the most modern and one of the best places to live in the world. You kinda have to see it to believe it.


KennedyCao lol, I hope this was meant to be funny.


Poor rich singaporeans.....and their cars


Just passed through Singapore - shame I'd left before this article was posted. Saw a few "modded" motors (including the blue Evo in the photos) and an orange McLaren P1 and lucky enough to drive a Lambo round the streets!!


Larry Chen PatrickLim that and the prices for an apartment that is basically a box in the air...landed properties are very expensive so most of us live in apartments


taiwanese-style pancake??its a roti canai my friend...indian fluffy n crispy pancake...yummmmeeehhh


You should come & visit us in Malaysia too! Check out the scene here!


BusThatCantStop harbi ha. Gt86 60bin yuro olur mu diyordum ben. 128bin dolar nedir


BusThatCantStop harbi ha. Gt86 60bin yuro olur mu diyordum ben. 128bin dolar nedir


buraKagan abi onu geç arabayi yolda tutmak için düzenli olarak 60 bin dolar bayılmak? :D


I'm pretty sure I'm going to Singapore in a few months, how can I visit Lye Designs? :)


BusThatCantStop oha o kadarini okumadim :D


buraKagan aynı zamanda klasik araç kapsamına giren arabaları sadece yılda bikaç gün sokağa çıkarabiliyosun (AE86 dahil)


BusThatCantStop sonuc: singapurda yasanmaz :D


And this is the perfect example, I've got about 2 more years left with this Evo. Singapore is a tough place to live in especially if you're a car lover.
Thank you for coming here and featuring our Car scene :)


i really want to move out of singapore just because of the regulations here, i know it's one of the safest and most modern country to live in, but as a car enthusiast, it's really painful to see 120,000USD being spent on a GT86 (which i really want to get as my first car)


JamieOng is it easy to move out of singapore tho?


and here i thought that malaysia's car regulations and law are crazy. i mean i know its worst in singpore but not to this extend! it cost around 100 over thousand ringgit to get a GT86 or less i think but in singpore is like more than half a million ringgit. haha


Ahrepppp 9 BNR R34 only.. :/


Samuel_ongcs yup hahaha what to do sad country


Ahrepppp 240z at $3000.. Pala pisang..


Samuel_ongcs ya hahaha


Interesting perspective ... to be honest I almost would prefer something like this. I can't keep up with my hobby because I have more space then I know what to do with. For projects I currently have a bike an e46 m3 (which I am scared that if I look at it wrong will break) and I am looking for a nice 240z to work with. My focus is so spread out. However, in Singapore you have to be focused and you can only really choose 1 vehicle. All you attention goes to that vehicle and all of your focus. I bet you that AE86 owner has the kind of devotion to that car that we can only dream of. We should be so lucky!  Great article Larry!


BusThatCantStopÜlkelerin_kişi_başına_GSYİH'ya_(nominal)_göre_sıralanışı kişi başına düşen milli gelir $50.000+ mış singapurda :D bence biz yine daha beter durumdayız


buraKagan hassiktir lan beter olsunlar o zaman :DD


BusThatCantStop HAHAHAHA :D that instant mood change


buraKagan olm arabam yok arabam, şu an initial d izleyip mal gibi eğleniyorum :D


BusThatCantStop hangi siteden izliyorsun :D bende başlamayı düşünüyorum


buraKagan baya eğlenceli, özellikle sollama sahneleri :D


BusThatCantStop sadece 26 bölüm iyiymiş :D


BusThatCantStop sadece 26 bölüm iyiymiş :D


buraKagan o ilk stage, 6 tane var :DD


BusThatCantStop wut :D neyse bakarız


buraKagan third stage film gibi, 1 saat 40 dk falan, second stage de 12 bölüm falan


Awesome article Larry. I've always admired the car culture in other countries as opposed to the United States for some odd reason. Probably since here in the Florida everything is very "vanilla" as far  as the enthusiast scene goes. I guess its the fact that even when regulations are so strict they seem to have much more of a passion to build such great well rounded "illegal" creations; Almost like a romeo and juliet lifestyle of the car world. Reading this does make me appreciate my 370z a bit more and how lenient the laws are out here in Orlando.

Gianluca FairladyZ

Larry Chen  You photos are just awesome! Huge respect for you Larry! Real good work. Will you ever sell the opening picture as a print? This would be a nice decoration in my garage or sleeping room! Keep up the good work!


After reading this article I think I'll stop whining about the regulations here in Italy. I thought them strict but nothing compared to the ones those poor guys have in Singapore. At this point I can just say props to those people and their great passion. Also congrats to you Larry for the FD books and th photogallery!


One of the best reads I've had on Speedhunters. A+ Larry!! Great job. See you at SEMA!


Thank you for great article, now let me tell you guys something about my country, Vietnam. All I could say is "There's no car culture at all". Of course we got bunch of rich guys with modern sports car but it's just for show. All things they could do with their cars is just drive 5-7kms to a coffee shop or a luxury restaurant (once per few months). People here always crazy about some modern European cars like Phantom, Aventador, 458, Merc and Audi but no one actually knows wtf is a R34, F40, S1 quattro, E30 M3, AE86, MX5 or FC/FD. The import laws here are bullshit too, all the tax you have to pay to get your dream car is around $25000. When registration, even 1 inch bigger of wheels and tires or 1" lower will make you car not pass. 99% of tuners here are ricer, all they do is just riced some commuter 100HP FWD with oversize wheel, giant wings, bodykit and sometimes, neon light. All I could dreaming right now is just own myself a MX5 (1st or 2nd gen) and don't even hope I can find some friends to share a car hobby in this stupid country or maybe I'll try to work hard to get our of this place in the not so far future :)


Yes they suck!! Here in Singapore if you're caught with a Exhaust that is "illegal" you can get fined and jailed! What if you're caught with an Turbo conversion? Hahha cars goes straight to the impound lot can't pay the fines? Sure thing we crush your cars


JDM_Luca vero, sono rimasto al dir poco scioccato, che numeri esorbitanti !


Bro You should come to Johor... :)


Yup. Not only Exported to Malaysia for being kept, But also many of them was legal or illegally exported to Indonesia (Batam Islands) Little did I know. So, that's why there's so much cool cars (EK Hatch, S2000, Or Impreza Taxi) were owned by the people in Batam (Indonesian). Maybe you should see Indonesian car culture. Here, the price of GT86 is way cheaper than Singapore. But still more expensive than the US, But in here, the police don't give any shit for your mods. Just make sure you put your license plates, match the color of your car to your ownership paper (but sometimes the don't give a shit), then you're free.

in Indonesia you can do ANYTHING you want as long as you have money LOL


that fc looked like a japanese keisatsu at first lol. theres about 2 of them on the street in here Estonia one is mine, few are rusted in some backyard and 1 is going to be a drift car soon ( my ex fc3s).
we also can not do any modifications except air filter and custom exhaust ( with catalytic converters ofcourse) but still people do it :)


that fc looked like a japanese keisatsu at first lol. theres about 2 of them on the street in here Estonia one is mine, few are rusted in some backyard and 1 is going to be a drift car soon ( my ex fc3s).
we also can not do any modifications except air filter and custom exhaust ( with catalytic converters ofcourse) but still people do it :)


Larry Chen KennedyCao It's kinda funny and kinda not.  As with a lot of other Asian countries, there's a huge motorcycle/moped population.  Cars tend to be for "rich folks."  Usually at night there are a few "bosozoku-like" (read dudes running straight pipes on their bikes) running around town.  From all my visits there, the only awesome car I saw was a Nissan Bluebird close to the wholesale market in Saigon.


So it's official? Singapore car scene: The hardest of the hardcore?


By far yes I guess. We are


I feel you bro, I'm from Vietnam too. Let's not forget the 300% tax on every car on the road


This actually makes me happy about the laws in Britain! Love that evo!


Oh you poor guys in Singapore. I really love to see how some petrolheads keep their babies, even if it costs an incredible amounts of money. Crazy guys!


Tough to be a car enthusiast in a country that is so corrupt and no means for improvement.  I totally feel for you both.


FunctionFirst their core.. its mined from the nucleus of the sun


Damn, it is like some kind of car hell!

I'm shocked being a Californian at how locked up these guys are—we should never complain again! Also Singapore is the place of my favorite F1 race, and the one hotel that is on my bucket-list:  visiting, staying, and swimming in the pool of the Marina Bay Sands hotel (F*cking Gorgeous!). 

Stay tough Singapore car fans... Stay tough!


Hafiz Yahaya with their education and first world standards, many siingaporean migrate easily to australia, canada, us and uk..

for malaysians..its much tougher now..


Hafiz Yahaya cant compare small country to malaysia. heck y is ours expensive anyways? protect local this day and age its a very backward policy.


Sounds like maine state inspection with all the rust and damage from the roads just not Singapore expensive jeez :p


Sounds like maine state inspection with all the rust and damage from the roads just not Singapore expensive jeez :p


Wow talk about committing to a car!  Great article!!


First world standards huh. Still Singaporeans are dreading to move out of the country.
You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side. I guess that's the case with Singapore. Cos there ain't no place like home here in Malaysia.


Hafiz Yahaya yes bro. now malaysia is exporting people for ISIS. we are world class standard for sure :) cheers to that :)


I'm malaysian. Plz put your cars there.


Boleh ape salah.


bachquang yeah, it's great to see another Vietnamese on this site. Car guys in Vietnam are so rare.


Thought I'd join the discussion. I've been visiting this site for a few years now, I really enjoy it and decided it was time to say a few words.

Articles like this really do put things in perspective. I could just about get an early Diablo in the US for what a GT-86 costs in Singapore. 

I'm American, and we tend to look at California as a totalitarian shithole where modified cars are concerned, but I guess California only sucks for car guys compared to the rest of America. You go to places like Florida and Wyoming and central Pennsylvania, and they literally DO NOT CARE what you drive as long as you've got valid paperwork and are under the speed limit.

Keep in mind that I'm not talking about the car CULTURE, but rather the car LAWS.

I feel bad for Singaporean hot rodders, but I also give them an enormous amount of credit for being able to stand up straight under the weight of all that obnoxious officialdom.

Even if I could have something like an R34 Skyline, I don't know if I'd want to be a car guy in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing or anywhere else that seems to treat car enthusiasm like a form of civil disobedience. To thrive in a hostile climate like that deserves a great deal of respect.

I guess love really does conquer all.

Anyway, keep up the good work.


Crushing a car because it's 10 years old seems so fucking wasteful. What the fuck, Singapore government?


Editors in chief


Hoangy Larry Chen As I recall, there was a 1967 Mustang fast back, a porsh 944, an old Impala, an NSX, 2 Supras, couple of badly riced 240SX, 10 S2000, 7 Evos X, 10 new Imps and 4 GT86, which share the price tag of Cayenne and auto-only. Personally, I'm eyeing a 1995 impreza sedan for my first car, now on sale at $8000. Not WRX or STi, and it's even an EJ18. Maybe I can swap a EJ20 from a random Legacy somewhere on it, then tune it gradually. Still, I need to buy the car first.


TuanAnhPhamCong Gen 3 Mazda MX-5 is available at your local Mazda dealership at the price of $75000. Simply speaking, our gov just don't want us to have cars


This makes Canada seem like automotive ownership heaven; especially for imported cars. If it's 15 years old and you can get it to pass DOT Safety (usually swap headlights, tail lights, seatbelts, etc. that say DOT, even without a USDM equivalent) you can drive it. I've already seen a couple R34's lurking around the streets, and there's like numerous R32's faffing about. Those guys slap in whatever headlights fit to pass safety then put the OEM headlights back in...but of course they adjust the bulb's angle to be proper.
I think Ontario has exhaust regulations or something (Mandatory catalytic converter, Db regulations?), and in Quebec the legal import age is 25 and they recently banned excessively stanced vehicles.
But Quebec's weird, in a lot of ways.

Otherwise, you can do what you want to your vehicle, but it's probably best to avoid drawing attention from the police, unless you like possibly having to re-safety your car.


@flushpoke TyeSabean If you're brave, or own a Subaru, you can have year round motoring fun. Snow drifting FTW.


Ice Age You are correct about the Florida laws.Florida has the highest bumper to wheel height in the country, you can have straight pipes, hell sometimes you can even get away with pipes poking out the hood. You want to lower your car, no prob. It can scrape and the police just don't care, but if you street race or speed good bye license.


Actually one point this article did not touch upon is that the majority of enthusiast here are not knee deep in money and most of us take on big loans just to have a car for those few years. You gotta do whatcha gotta do...


NYporkdept Especially considering that these cars will never be manufactured again.


E_Chill Ice Age Yeah, they'll even register Skylines, but don't let the Feds find out!

The good thing is, this is the year that the first year of the R32's production run can be legally imported to America. I assume there are a few left is usable condition out there...


@TROLLS ROYCE UWerqxTeam_MJ Mmmm... squid. I prefer the large ones, stuffed with onions and savory scrapped fish, then grilled with basting made with tomato sauce, soy sauce, a little mustard, and natural squid ink... 

or Japanese calamari, drizzled in Teriyaki sauce.


Hello all and thanks to Speedhunters for showing everyone what we petrol heads in Singapore go through, just for the love of our rides. Thank you all for your kind words and compliments...


Hello all and thanks to Speedhunters for showing everyone what we petrol heads in Singapore go through, just for the love of our rides. Thank you all for your kind words and compliments...


@Brisk Unless the local dealer can find a buyer to export to, it gets crushed...I reckon its cheaper to buy fr Japan hence finding buyers is not easy
You should hear the exhaust on the comes out only occasionally not that the owner has his R34 GTR


My 96 civic ek4 insurance cost me 2.5k after 3years and they wanted to increase it to 2.8k or more because i had claimed against other drivers. 2.8k for a 1.6L Altezza on the other hand costs 1.5k for a year. This is in sgd.


Much respect to the people in Singapore. The Supra and RX7 look really good. Great article Larry!


You got to be kidding me on owning a car in singapore


Never again I will call German car laws problematic or impossible to match. Never. 
Very good article! Learned a lot.


AlFattah  er.. no.. turbo conversion is classed under exhaust mod. superchargers are classed under engine mods. you probably mean supercharger mods.. no difference from dropping an engine.. impounded too.. in this case I'd rather drop a 2jz into any car tbh.


Hafiz Yahaya  being safe isn't living a life. working til the age of 70-80..


I have never seen another manual RS200 other than my own. I've only seen is200s. I heard of 1 or 2 manual RS200s around I have yet to see. pretty sad.. no more JZA80s on the roads of Singapore.


syed_yasin shit man aku bersyukur gila tengok kereta aku kat luar. These guys da real mvps yo


I live in São Paulo, Brazil and our road rules are quite mild, but the prices are quite high. We only need to pay a yearly tax, pass emissions once a year and pay insurance. I currently own a fairly modified Subaru Forester XT and just to give you some perspective, all of these taxed goes for about 3000 USD a year. Its not cheap, but its payable. The problems start when you purchase a new car though. A brand new Subaru WRX STi MSRP is 100.000 USD, more than double what costs in the US. So the car culture here is considered to have a higher treshold, if i may. 

But some JDMs are very rare and can be a hassle to maintain and modify, because parts are expensive and the odds are they'll have to be imported from Japan (or even the US, in the case of some american muscle. Even worse for european cars, which are even rarer because most brands never imported the good models / trim levels/ variants. 

So all in all our rules are not that strict, but are way worse than American laws.


Sorry i meant auto is200s and auto rs200s


wow....I've heard that Singapore car laws are tough but didn't realise its that crazy! I'm Indonesian living in Australia, car laws in Australia can be annoying but I won't be complaining anymore. Car laws in Indonesia are very relaxed but we have crap roads.

There is a small island called Batam between Singapore & Indonesia, its part of Indonesia and its fairly common to see ex-Singapore cars being sold there. I guess there are people that benefited from the tough Singapore laws.


@wheels there's an FC Savanna soft top in Batam.. FYI


We just recently spotted a soft top fc3s on the roads of singapore as well. Rare stuff..


AaronLim wah damn beautiful thing. i also spotted a maroon 88/89 red toyota starlet in SG 2 years ago. i think the red one is from SG too. but its not as good condition as the one you posted. salute to you car guys @ SG.


Salute to all motorheads across the world!


LOL sadly true!


Damn. What sucked the most was to read about the AE86's (and other cars) being crushed:-/ actually bummed out cause of this story.


I live in Singapore, single and earn about usd5000 a month, and I still can't afford a freaking Toyota Corolla. FML.


Hahaha close friend of mine dropped a turbo in a Suzuki swift car got Impounded and heavily fined


It should also be noted that Daytime Running Lights are required, but that's just a minor rewiring of the OEM lights, fog lights or some other front mounted light you decide to slap on. I also read that side markers/reflectors are required, so there's that too. There's probably other things I'm forgetting about, but if one is really curious, you could look up the local Highway & Traffic Act for rules and regulations; Pretty sure it varies in some ways between provinces.

And of course, there are our frigid winters that many Canadians lament about but endure anyways (I, for one, embrace them since I was born a snow baby). For this, you have a couple options:

1. Buy a cheap-ass 'winter beater'. A Cavalier, Neon, Civic, whatever cheap, running vehicle you can find to drive while you have your nice car parked for hibernation.

2. Take public transportation. This is only applicable to people living in a major city, but you could still possibly use your vehicle for out-of-city excursions. Lord knows it would certainly reduce the chance your vehicle be involved in a weather related accident, what with there being less drivers out in the country.

3. Prepare your car for battle! if you don't feel like going through the process of owning, insuring, and seasonally swapping vehicles, you can always prep your car for the impending snowfall. Buy winter tires, undercoat your car to prevent salt and sand related damage, get a feel for what your car is capable of at it's limits in the snow. You'd be a little more likely to get involved in a weather related accident, but good defensive driving should avoid most of that. This is also why imported cars like any Subaru, Mitsubishi Delicas, or any other 4WD vehicles are so popular.
Plus, drifting in the snow is fun.


@wheels a car magazine in my country covered ABT 2012 in jakarta,from what ive read,indonesia's import policies are even more ridiculous.You cannot drive a LHD car and half-cut cars cant be imported and it sucked.the reason why the mitsubishi scene in malaysia and KE70 driftcars thrive in malaysia is because we can use half-cuts.import car policies in Malaysia,Singapore and Indonesia sucks


@sgcarlover i feel for you i really do! nobody should have to put up with the crazy price to own a car in singapore. i dont know what your line of work or family status is but have you considered moving? i know it sounds a bit much moving just to own a car but to some its worth it


He's lucky the authority hasn't scrap the wheels...yet.




Who's going to be the first to build a 1932 Ford Roadster or a 1955 Chevy on the island (even if it's only a replica)?

Tasos Papazachariou

This article is beyond great.However what blew my mind is that you have to pay 50$ to register a legend(in my eyes at least) and I have to pay 260euros to register a crappy Corsa and another 240euros for insurance...


if u guys are ever in asia i think u guys should come to Brunei.. and cover the car culture and nightlife in brunei.. hehe


i cant see them although i live in Singapore i guess you were lucky


I thought China is the hell of car culture until I see this article...Although classic JDMs are quite rare here for the reason that basically no one can pay for a car before 1990s, the existed ones were smuggled here many years ago. 

Luckily we don't have to pay a horrendous fee to keep our cars from being crushed, and the cost of new cars is quite fair after seeing the figure in Singapore. A brand new GT-86 takes about USD$40,000, while a new Impreza takes USD$75,000. I know this is way more expensive than in North America or Europe, but at least it's still affordable for middle class.

As for modification, it's neither legal nor illegal here. Traffic police would ignore you in most of the time, but the owners of tuner cars would have a bad time when there's a campaign occurred, usually comes when there's a accident of tuner car. There are many voices of making a regulation of tuner cars so the majority of them would not have to play hide and seek with traffic police.

The territory of China is so vast that you are not likely to see a lot of tuner cars in one place, since the tuner cars are spread over the country. But there is a great car meet hold by a crew named iAcrophobia in Beijing once a year, many local manufacturers partner with it, and it is this meeting that attracts tuner cars driven to Beijing by their owners from all over the country.

Hopefully there's a chance in the future that Speedhunters would come China exclusively for  a car meeting and the curiosity of China's growing car culture.


Larry Chen So are you making a trip down during National Day?


Larry Chen So are you making a trip down during National Day?


Larry Chen So are you making a trip down during National Day?


Here in Portugal for my Subaru Impreza my98 i pay every year.
€135 road tax y
€150 insurance with glass coverage
€35 inspection or Mot
€1,40 p/liter of 98 ron fuel.
Tunning IS active in Portugal but IS illegal.
If you are cauhth by police you may or may not be in trouble.
IS not the worse but car are super expensive. A brand new Toyota Gt86 cost €40.000 and new car have to pay premium insurance


dude in Ohio, you have to pass emissions for 25 years and then... yeah, you're done, no inspection or emissions at all. Some communities aren't fond of absurdly loud exhausts but largely you can get away with anything. The only downside is garaging your car for five months of the year because of salted roads, and we have a ton of potholes, but it feels like nirvana here now


Wow.. most depressing article i've read on here.. i wonder if this is where it's heading worldwide.. hats off to these people for their infinite dedication..wish you all the best..


Not joking, this is worse than North Korea. Over there, if you are one of the few rich people granted "elite" status, you can buy any car once you have paid a huge (unknown) import tax. Same in Cuba, where there's a 2000% import tax. After that, the cr is yours for as long as you wish