Manfred is the owner of the Instagram page @Classiccars.sg and drives a beautiful BMW E36 daily. In this episode of In The Passenger Seat, he discusses the classic car scene and his experience of owning a car that is three decades old.
We first came across Manfred’s page when we saw a picture of his BMW E36 with two other cars, a Toyota Celica and Alfa Romeo, both of which bear Vintage and Classic Car plates respectively.
We decided to reach out to Manfred to ask him more about vintage cars in a country where you rarely spot old gems like these.
With the Singapore Government planning to adopt more EV vehicles and technology in the next five years, let’s hear what Manfred has to say about vintage cars, especially those that are as old as the owner himself.
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First of all, what’s your name, age and what do you do?
My name is Manfred. I am 25 this year and I run several businesses. It includes Pillowseed, a web development and digital marketing firm, and Abstract, which does personalised laser engravings on wood, acrylic and leather merchandises for consumers and corporate companies.
On the side, I do adjunct lecturing on web development for private institutes and courses.
For the people who don’t know, what car are you driving now?
I am currently driving a 1991 BMW 320i (E36). For the longest time, I always wanted to own a classic car. I saw a few, but the cars were either sold very quickly or I just did not fancy them.
One day a friend of mine happen to find a pretty good deal on this E36 and asked me to view it. I went for the viewing and really liked it. That’s how I came to own my E36.
Your BMW E36 is as old, if not, older than you. Have you done anything to it ever since you purchased it?
Yes, my BMW E36 is precisely 30-years-old. When I bought it, I had to do some aesthetic and mechanical work to fix wear and tear.
I got my hands dirty and tried to fix them myself to the best of my knowledge and ability. Of course, I roped in some friends for help as they were classic car owners as well.
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What’s your fondest memory of cars? How did you fall in love with them?
After I got my driving licence, I started looking around for a car to drive. Thanks to my close friend, Melvyn, who is the owner of the Toyota Celica, he introduced me to different cars types, both modern and classic.
I went from simple everyday cars to classic ones as my knowledge and interest in automotives grew.
With that being said, what incited your love for classic cars over modern cars?
Classic cars have a certain charm mainly due to their vintage, retro look. It’s very different from the cars that are manufactured these days.
On your Instagram, you have pictures with a Vintage Toyota Celica and Alfa Romeo. How did you come to know the owners of these cars?
They were my friends before I entered the classic car scene. Melvyn is the owner of the Toyota Celica and is my childhood friend. The owner of the Alfa Romeo is a friend of Melvyn.
How would you describe the vintage car scene in Singapore?
I am still pretty new to the vintage car scene in Singapore, but I have made friends with quite a few very passionate classic car owners.
It’s an amicable and welcoming community that share their experiences and offers help willingly. It useful to know people within the community as you never know when you have questions or need help.
Do people normally snap photos of your car when you’re driving?
From time to time, though not as much as those older classic cars. It does feel good knowing that people appreciate vintage cars as much as I do.
When you have a Vintage/Classic car plate in Singapore, you can only drive it for 45 out of 365 days a year. What are your thoughts on that rule?
I think it’s alright given the lower road tax and COE. But of course, any classic car owner would want to drive their car for more than 45 times a year.
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Do you think people will soon forget about vintage cars, with more and more car models being manufactured every year?
With people chasing the newer, more modern cars, the classic car scene will eventually start to dwindle. In the end, only those with a true love for vintage cars will keep the scene alive.
As someone driving a car with an internal combustion engine, what are your thoughts on EVs? Do you think you’ll make the switch in five to 10 years?
I am not against EVs. As a tech person myself, I do think that automovie technology has made great strides over the years. It’s also cool to have an automated car with modern, futuristic features.
However, I’m still leaning towards classic cars, and I would still like to keep the vintage car scene in Singapore alive for as long as possible.
What is your dream car? Why?
I have a few dream cars, but as of now, I will say it’s the BMW E9.
The very first time I saw one, it captured my attention immediately. It brought back the vintage feel of BMWs where the kidney grilles were so tiny and thin.
It’s just so sleek and majestic.
What are your thoughts on the overall car scene in Singapore?
Due to Singapore’s continuous restrictions on modifications, the local car scene is slowly getting dull. There should be some leeway for car owners, especially those who really know their stuff.
Likewise, as a vintage car owner, I hope more people would appreciate the classic car scene while these cars are still around.
*This interview has been edited and condensed.
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This article was first published in Motorist.