Mr Darran Kwok drives a 1993 Toyota Soarer – possibly the only one left in Singapore.
The third-generation rear-wheel-drive coupe is a Japanese domestic model brought in by parallel importers. It is powered by a 2.5-litre engine making 280hp and 363Nm, paired with a five-speed automatic gearbox.
The fourth-generation equivalent – the Lexus SC430 coupe-convertible – was imported by Toyota agent Borneo Motors.
Mr Kwok first saw a Soarer in Japan in 2010. “I was walking out of a restaurant,” the 43-year-old sales manager at an events company recalls. “The long bonnet, sleek windows, swoopy lines and muscular stance made me fall in love at first sight.”
At that time, he was driving a Honda Civic SiR. The following year, a friend told him he spotted a Soarer at a used-car dealer.
“I drove there immediately,” the father of three says. “I didn’t know if the car was for sale, but I was confident that if I offered the right price, they would sell it to me.”
He paid around $35,000 for it. “I wanted the car so badly, I did not even take it for a test-drive.”
His haste cost him dearly. Within a month, the car made the first of many visits to the workshop.
In total, Mr Kwok ended up spending more than what he paid for the car on repairs. “The seats, dashboard and various panels were replaced as they were very worn,” he says. “The engine was losing compression, so it was rebuilt. The turbochargers were also not boosting properly.
“The automatic transmission was replaced with a reconditioned unit as it was sluggish and showed signs of slippage. Even the door lever on the inside was not working – I had to wind down the window to open the door from the outside.”
Even today, his workshop visits are not over. Yet he is quick to say no when asked if he ever felt like giving up on the car.
What’s in the boot?
• Car cleaning items
• Replacement car parts
• A pair of slippers
In February 2013, he renewed the Soarer’s certificate of entitlement for more than $93,000, which he had to sell his Civic to help pay.
Mr Kwok has since added some modifications to the car.
Besides giving it alloy wheels, a bodykit and new exhaust system, he also forked out $9,000 (including installation) for an air suspension system made by American firm AccuAir. It allowed him to adjust the ride height by nearly 14cm. At its lowest, the car sits merely 1.3cm from the ground.
“I select the lowest setting when the car is parked as it looks so cool. When I encounter an obstacle like a hump or kerb, the highest setting allows the car to clear it with ease.”
He has not thought about his next car. His children – aged six, four and two – can still fit in the rear seats, with the younger ones in child seats.
“I still enjoy driving my car so much,” he says, adding that because it is the last of its kind here, “that makes it extra special”.
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