Saturday, December 26, 2009

Of Formula 1 and statements made by a certain Malaysian

The Formula 1 silly season or 'of-season' circus is going at full swing at the moment. Recently we read that Brawn GP was bought by Mercedes, Lotus and Malaysia are F1 team mates in a certain sort of way, Petronas has decided to sponsor the newly formed ex-Brawn now named Mercedes Petronas and Michael Schumacher coming out of retirement to race for them. I am looking forward to seeing Schumi race again.

But I think the news that made my grey matter spin a little is the fact that Alex Yoong is ashamed that Petronas isn't sponsoring Team  Lotus F1. In all honestly, what was he thinking when he made that statement on his Twitter account. We also know that with Schumi back in F1 and with Mercedes, I can easily state that all TV cameras will spend alot of screen time on the Mercedes Petronas cars and with that, Petronas has actually made an advertising coup. On a company level, they've actually made the right choice. We'd now see two big Malaysian names on two teams now, one, Mercedes Petronas and the other Lotus F1, with Malaysia and maybe Air Asia plastered all over the cars. Isn't that bigger mileage for the country?

Then again, people who like posting instantaneous messages on either Twitter or Facebook usually do not think of the repercussion when they post on these sites. Then again, the word Twitter is derived from the word TWIT:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A twit is an idiot.
The term may also refer to:
  • The TWiT podcast network, or a fan of it
  • The weekly podcast This WEEK in TECH.
  • The Roald Dahl children's book called The Twits
  • Acronym for Teenage Women In their Thirties
  • A user of Twitter
Hence, if we look at the origin of the word, we now know what is in the mind and the person of Mr Alex Yoong when he 'twitted' about Petronas sponsoring Mercedes. Most probably nothing. The moral of the story is that do not be an overzealous updater. Think before typing. All it takes is some patience, and maybe in the case of Mr Yoong, a PR officer to go over all postings.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Now that Proton and Perodua have launched their MPVs......

It has been awhile since I discussed MPVs or people carriers in my articles. The reason that I don't discuss more about them is that I despise them. These automobiles are large van like objects that enable many human beings to be carried at one go. They have 7 seats and have a supposedly versatile floorplan. They can carry large objects from lifestyle stores like IKEA with their seats folded. They can do almost anything and are supposedly God's gift to families. The automobiles in question are those large MPVs like the Naza Ria, Toyota Estima Toyota Innova Toyota Alphard, Toyota Big Fat Bungalow and such new vehicles like the Proton Exora come into mind. Those smaller, more car like MPVs like the Honda Stream, Naza Citra, Nissan Grand Livina or even the Toyota Wish aren't as bad, as they look like slightly obese station wagons and are more car like to drive.

A history lesson

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Final Word on Football............

Recently Manchester United lost to Liverpool. Some may say that this is a rare occurrence and that the fans of Liverpool have poured into the streets rejoicing at the victory. That its players played gallantly and that they thoroughly deserved that victory. It was a battle royal between the two and the best team won. Manchester United fought well but they lost. The referee was blind. The players were careless. Some were dead men playing. Liverpool was at their best. The bookies bribed the players. If Bryan Robson were playing Manchester United wouldn't have lost. Beckham shouldn't have married Posh Spice and may Beckham leave the team. I wish Kenny Daglish were still playing. If Ronaldo didn't leave things would be different. Men in shorts are my kinda thing. Now what I just typed would made sense to either one of the team's supporters but I'm sorry, but those of you motorheads who choose to support either Manchester United or Liverpool should stop doing so.

Near fanatical support of Manchester United would mean that you are the no different from a billion or so people who support the same team. Supporting Liverpool means the same thing, although there may be slightly less of you Liverpool fans out there. Do remember that the word 'fan' is derived from the word 'fanatic and it means you are this close to becoming an axe murderer. All it needs is spark by a Liverpool fan (if you are a Man U fan) to diss your team and you may just pummel his head with your fist and end up slightly dead. But the main point is this. If you are a motorhead you should stop supporting either team as it is a waste of your time and money. Mainly a waste time if you don't place large bets anyway.

If you're a motorhead, you'd be better reading that car magazine of yours or looking at other forms of car pornography instead of watching 22 grown men chase a ball round a field. The problem with football is that it is boring. It has become so tactical that you don't see someone run rings from the middle of the field, through the midfield players, through the defender's legs and then in between the keeper's legs to score a goal. Now we get to hear tactics, lobs, passes, defensive play, coaches shouting from the edge of the field but no actual dribbling, no risk taking or no Pele or Maradona kind of magic anymore. It's absolutely dull watching grown men in shorts passing from one to another and then try some stupid cross to score. There's no Geoff Hurst style of like flying in the air kind of kick in the '66 World Cup or a Maradona dribble from the middle of the field straight through a shocked England defence sometime in the late 70s. There's no actual magic. Even watching Brazil play in the last world cup was like watching a ball tied to a string but no actual scoring or finala finishing touches. It was bloody boring. I mean what's the point of sacrificing late nights watching nothing interesting except some 'free kick specialists' fall down and get a free kick for their teams? They don't play football, it's as bad as watching wrestling on TV. At least you know they're faking it there.

Now another problem with either Manchester United or a Liverpool fan is that they can get pretty anal about their teams. Like here, I put Manchester before Liverpool. This little fact would upset some Liverpool fans because I didn't put their team before their arch rivals in this article. It's outrageous. I have to say that both are regarded by yours truly to be as good as the other, which is actually inconsequential to the well being of planet Earth. You see, if a meteor were to hit both teams while they were playing life would still go on. No country is going to go bust, no one will die of hunger and certainly no one will run out of things to do if such an event were to occur. I suppose some Chelsea fans would rejoice, but that's not the point.

The biggest reason on why you as a motorhead should not bother with either team is that if you were to spend your money purchasing tickets, souvenirs, ESPN subscriptions or even posters on any of the teams, you are actually making some football star who may be as clever as the turnip planted by some British farmer or a footballer that speaks in a squaky voice be filthy rich. You are sponsoring their slightly lavish lifestyle by paying for their Bentley Continental GTs, their Aston Martins and their Ferraris. It is you who enable those that do not need to study hard for their PHDs, MBAs or even go to Iraq to fight for their country to live fantastically rich lives. And the irony is, do they really care about the riots that happen after their games? Most of them end up in some posh restaurant eating cuisine food with their WAGs. Whereas you'd be at some teh tarik mamak shop and have  a cheap piece of roti canai which is just plain flour, suddenly becomming more clever than the coaches that actually coached the teams in the first place. Do they actually care about you eating normal food? Do they even know you exist? All they know is you bought that club scarf and paid for your ESPN subscription that enables them to maintain their exclusive lifestyle. What about your lifestyle? Instead of watching them, you could save the world, read a book or take a nice drive somewherec during that 90 minutes of boredom. If you are not a footballer in the first place, why bother watching it? Woudn't it be better playing the game instead of watching a game where there's no more magic nowadays? The game won't change. Its too boring and tactical I say again. If you want a change, don't watch it anymore.

Then again, if you're here in Malaysia, why are you bothered about some bloke on the other side of the world? Do you even know that John Major isn't the Prime Minister of England anymore? Do you know what's the current economic situation in Britain? Do you know that having tea is a very English thing? I know you do know that two English teams played football and one team won. Is that worthwhile information for some of you? I suppose it is, but you should stop. You need to aim for that Bentley and not let those footballers buy such cars and make them cheaper, image-wise, than they actually are. I mean, does Mr Rooney or squeaky voice Beckham make a fine Aston Martin or a Bentley ambassador? You'd actually be cringing at that thought and remember the next time there's a game on telly that you think will make a difference in the world. It won't. Don't bother, go read a Haynes manual, as its more productive.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Now all of you out there know that there's more to life than motoring. Finding mountain passes, hairpins, modding your car, spending hours of your life at the mechanic ogling other people's rides and cruising the nightspots are an integral part of a motorhead's life. But, there is more to life than just this. I wish to just state here that there are other stuff that yours truly over here indulges in.

One of the good things about having a fixed salary and a gentlemen's way of dressing up is the need of proper shoes. As I've stated much earlier you should have the appropriate footwear for most of the occasions, even driving. We do have our expensive driving moccs or our PUMA driving shoes for our occasional weekend jaunts in our fast cars but when we go to work everytime I look down at guy's feet I see black cheap loafers. No, the black HUSH PUPPIES slip-ons are cheap shoes okay? The BATA (BUY AND THROW AWAY) shoes are even worse. If you can spend about RM3,500 on a set of Japanese sports rims for your car why can't you spend RM200-500 on a decent pair of work shoes? People look at your rims and they do look at the way you look also.

What every motorhead should try to have is the following:
1. One good dark coloured suit (for weddings, funerals and certain semi-formal occasions)
2. One good watch - you do need to tell time. That Casio G-SHOCK won't impress the women at the casino. James Bond uses Omega and previously Rolex. There are reasons for this especially with the Rolex if you're stuck in a third world country you can pawn it for good money.
3. One good pen - That cheap Kilometrico in your business shirt pocket looks cheap. And makes you look cheaper. Buy a RM50 Parker Jotter. Not a pricey pen but it looks its part and your image will improve with this small investment but if you lose it you won't cry like a baby (try losing a MONTEGRAPPA and then see how).
4. Two good pairs of shoes for work. Two is the minimum number so that you can rotate them. Use one and rest the other. But the best number for rotation is actually 5 pairs. So you only use that one pair per day per week. Your shoes will last a long time if you do so. If you would kindly check out the picture below you'd see that I have enough shoes to have a proper rotation of shoes that would keep them wearable for a long long time. There is that saying "you are too poor to afford one good pair of shoes" as one good pair will only last about six months or less if worn everyday. And that's why you should have at least two pairs of shoes for any occasion.

 The picture you see are only of my lace-ups. Most are Italian ( I like the more streamlined design compared to English Brogues), most are Blake/Rapid welted and are used for both work and social occasions. Due to strictly following rotational wear, some are almost 8 years old (The Black Clarks Brogues at the far left of the last row was my first pair of work shoes. Bought in 1997 and still perfectly wearable - after a resole or two) Not included here are my monk-straps, moccs, slip-ons, boots, sports shoes and so forth. See? I told you there was more to life than motoring.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why is Team Lotus F1 Malaysia’s budget of a few hundred million Malaysian Ringgit per annum justified over feeding and housing the poor in Malaysia. - From the secret diary of the team’s principle.

Dear Diary,

Is the team F1 project justified? Well, firstly, my entertainment and transport allowance of about RM285,000 per month needs a large enough budget for such a salary. A budget of RM1 million per annum is rubbish. I’m not getting paid peanuts as I’m not doing a monkey’s job. I have a high profile job. Dealing with engineers, professional race car drivers, politicians and government officials as well captains of various industries who I will scrounge…. I mean beg for their funds require me to such a salary.

Secondly, I mean, me being the CEO of a world famous budget airline means that I have to allocate my time between two jobs. Hence, I need for another assistant to carry my F1 team official Blackberry and another assistant to carry my I-Phone for my airline business …. as you wouldn’t like your F1 team principle to come to work in tailor made pants pockets bulging with little items here and there. It isn’t presentable. My pockets are just there for my new Lotus company car keys (heard that I’ll be getting an Evora as well as a Proton Chancellor for my use from Proton soon! Yippie!!!) and my wad of cash. These handphone carrying assistants need salaries too. As such, part of the budget would go to these two jokers. I don’t understand why people moan and complain about having no place to carry their phones, laptops and other stuff. Why don’t they just hire someone to carry it for them in the first place? All it costs is a couple of thousand per month. Oh yeah...add the cost of my new company cars to the budget too!

Thirdly, this organization would employ tea ladies, janitors, clerks, slaves, harem girls and so forth. So some poor people would be have jobs and can afford to eat and not die from any forms of starvation. These lower level staff would be paid via the budget at first before we can pull in those large sponsorships from large Malaysian conglomerates. We would be making at least 1,000 poor Malaysians have jobs directly and indirectly via this Team F1 investment. So it’s a good thing in a way. But of course, we’ll pay them minimum wage. I think my drivers, engineers and my partners (and my goodself) deserve more because we are the ones that work hard. I mean, they (the poor general workers) don’t need to go to Suzuka, Monaco, Bahrain, and any of the other F1 races around the world. We have to be there and we need the money. Our drivers have to race; our engineers have to maintain the cars. Why should the slaves…err…general workers be paid more than minimum wage compared with them (and I). For example, Monaco’s expensive! I was surprised that an egg and cheese sandwich costs as much as a buffet lunch at some of our budget hotels here in KL. In short, the budget is there so I and my F1 team don’t starve. No roti canai and teh tarik in Monaco you know? Imagine paying RM25.00 for a cup of coffee at Suzuka. RM10million wouldn’t cut it in this line of business. That’s why hundreds of millions is required.

Furthermore, team F1 promotes the nation to people around the world just like Sepang F1 track does. An F1 team will also generate exposure for Malaysia and is a logical second step after the F1 track. There are so many people who don’t even know where Malaysia is located. I remember describing Malaysia to a foreigner; “You know where Singapore is?”


“You know where Thailand is?”

“Ahhh…of course…go go girls, elephants and tomyam.”

“Malaysia is right in the middle”

“Ohhh yeahhh..that’s what that thing is in the middle on the map”

I’m honestly tired of answering questions like that. That’s why a few of us managed to convince the government to throw.. I mean spend money in this way to promote Malaysia even more…

So with F1 coming into Malaysia and with awareness, there’ll be more tourists and more tourists mean more money circulating in the country. These extra cash floating around would also go to the people of the country. Everyone from Hoteliers, Restaurants, Shopping centers, tourist spots would benefit. Not to mention, my airline would get more paying customers. Heck, making me chairman of this F1 team actually makes more personal exposure for me and my airline!!!!! I love it tremendously. I have more personal promotion that I really need. More banks would give my airline loans. I’ll be like Richard Branson…in fact I’ll be bigger than him soon! Richard Branson = Virgin Group. That’s like me = Air As.... hmm…soon I’ll take over the world….ha ha hahahahahahahhahahhahahahahahah.

Oh yeah. There are some ‘spoil-sports’ out there saying that instead of even suggesting this F1 team, the money should be channeled directly to the hardcore poor in Malaysia. I’m sorry, I fully disagree. Money is already being channeled to the poor. It’s just that they somehow forget the existence of Ministries like the Community Development and Family Ministry. Go register with them for aid. I’m sure that other government agencies like even the Muslim tithe department distributes tithe to the poor.

All you poor people should have to do like what I’m doing. Advertise yourself and the exposure allows you to go places. Look at me; I was only in charge of a company in the music industry and then KABAAMMM!!! I’m a famous budget airline boss and then I’m chosen as an F1 team supremo! Wow!

If you’re poor, it’s your fault, and not the government for channeling the money elsewhere. Hey, even if they didn’t initiate this F1 team (which I’m so absolutely happy they did ….to my benefit), the millions would go elsewhere that you may not even hear of. The government could have used the millions and opened up a top secret Nuclear power plant or an AREA 51 or even some stupid tall building or flagpole somewhere? The nuclear plant will then incur the wrath of America, then America invades us and overthrows our Prime Minister/government that I love so much, things will be worse. The money would be wasted anyway. At least it’s going my way..hehehe.. (as for the moment of course, as I’m only on the helm till things are stable hopefully by end of 2010). So why complain? Enjoy the ride. I surely am.

P.S. I wonder if my uncle is going to make his famous puttumayam for his Deepavali open house. It goes so well with Auntie’s curry. I hope Lotus loans me an Evora by then so that I can show it off to my auntie and uncle soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The 8th Generation Honda Civic - A current car that's ahead of its time

The current 8th generation Honda Civic is one of the most complete small family sedans I’ve ever driven. I had a few months ago spent an hour driving non stop the 1.8 liter version going round the same area, taking corners and bends as well as doing some 140-160km/h runs in it and came to this conclusion. It is one of the best RM120,000.00 car you can buy here in Malaysia and I have to nod in agreement at anyone who bought one.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya and some odd ramblings...

Its Hari Raya Aidilfitri today and I'm up over at my in-law's place in Ara Damansara doing absolutely nothing to really celebrate this auspicious day except give my daughter some 'duit raya' or some festive money to her. I've even dressed down as I'm only in a polo tee and a pair of olive green chinos. The food was good as we had the usual nasi himpit, lemang, rendang (which I don't bother to eat as I'm a sausages and egg kind of man) , some nicey prepared roast tongue and salad (which I truly enjoy).

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The actual cost of transport, and some tea.

I was pondering one afternoon during this month of fasting about transportation as a whole. This idea was brought about by hunger and the need for a nice pot of Earl Grey to soothe my at that time parched throat. But the brain keeps on working anyways.

Transportation has changed our lives in ways we have never imagined. In those days, we lived in a town, village or even a city with barely any contact with a person who lives a couple of hundred kilometers away. We’d basically grow up in a village and go to school there. Then, end up at the nearest large town or city to further one’s education or skills to become a carpenter, tailor, tradesmen or bank robber. We’d then learn enough of one’s trade and set up shop in a small town a few hundred miles from the place we grew up and then find a wife from the nearest village or town.

In these days, as an example, a person can be born in Kangar, Perlis, goes to boarding school in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, does his A-levels in a college in Kuala Lumpur, gets a scholarship and leaves for England where he gets his degree in engineering, comes back to Malaysia and works for an oil and gas company, gets posted to Dubai for a stint, marries a French gal who works as a banker also in Dubai and they decide to uproot and live in Bristol, England; opening a small tea and scones shop in a suburb there while managing an internet business selling Malaysian Batik which he gets his stock flown in from a batik factory in Terengganu, Malaysia. The change that had made this all possible is the invention of the major forms of transport; Planes, trains and automobiles.

Transport has made Earth a small place to live in. Soon we’d be running of places to explore and we’d have no choice but to invent proper passenger ships to send ourselves to Mars where we’d have a whole new world to colonize. However, transport has also caused a large drawback towards Mother Earth in general. The fossil fuel we burn is causing havoc towards our environment. The carbon released from our forms or transport is causing a supposedly marked rise in temperatures globally.

If we all used eco-friendly means of fuel, there won’t be any drawbacks to people flying down to Paris every few months for shopping or driving up to Singapore in their SL55s for a supposedly decent plate of Nasi Padang along Arab Street. Note that it takes about 800 liters of aviation fuel per person to reach gay Pahree from Kuala Lumpur and about the same amount back. It’ll take a couple of hundred Ringgit in fuel just for the nice fast Mercedes to make it to Arab Street. You’re thinking that what’s a couple of liters of fuel in a car that no one actually owns here in Malaysia, most of us drive Kancils, Vivas and Wiras. Well, the supposed myth is that we tend to export our oil out of Malaysia and bring in automotive grade petrol to sell. Just think, the amount of fuel is used by the oil tanker to bring in our fuel is not calculated. Our carbon footprint is huge. Unless we find a cost effective way to replace oil.

Note that it now costs RM1.80 per liter of RON95. It costs on average RM1.50 for 1500ml of bottled water. So petrol is slightly cheaper than bottled water, even if we have to drill it from the middle of the ocean, transport it back to shore, process it, then send it a couple of thousand miles away for refining and then used. Water if bottled in, say Taiping, sent by a lorry to Kuala Lumpur and still costs cheaper. How does a country stay rich by having so much oil is a mystery to me.

But as I stated above, transport has made us very choosy people. I for instance drive a Japanese car. The cost of making that car (steel, glass, electricity used, fuel used in the process), bringing that car into the country (building a car carrier freighter, fuel to transport) and so forth makes my car have a larger carbon consumption per vehicle than if you bought a Proton Persona. Of course, there is a slight difference in quality and what pleasure the Japanese, Italian, German car can give you over the Malaysian one. It’s However, being able to afford this ‘luxury’ means that I can do such a thing. I also love Italian shoes which were crafted in Italy and most probably
sea freighted or air freighted over burning more of our fuel along the way. I cannot see myself using BATA (Buy And Throw Away) shoes nowadays as they actually are terrible items for my beloved feet which thrive on looking dapper.

I also love expensive pens, watches and clothing that we can usually find being made in China (quite true as some expensive pens are now made there), Japan, Switzerland, and Italy which are usually transported in burning more fuel to satisfy such needs.

So you see, everything we want is either transported in whether we like it or not. Your carbon footprint is large if you like handcrafted goods made by the best around the world. We have grown choosy and fussier when we are able to earn more. When our spending powers are small, the things we want are basic necessities. When we become greedy 'capitalist pigs', we can afford things from everywhere around the world. Even the beautiful wife may come from Uzbekistan if we were ugly and desperate. You see, transport has made the quality of life so much better and life more interesting overall. But we are now feeling the repercussions from all of our fossil fuel burning.

However, we motorheads are a strange breed. While some of us may seem like we care for the environment, we still want our big petrol V8 to sound like Thor’s mighty hammer. We still want our dream cars to be 1000bhp Bugattis. We still want our Mercedes’ running 6.2liters of All Mighty Grunt (SL63AMG). I think the only serious eco-friendly thing I can do now is make sure the plants (planted by my mum who does her best in making a small plot of land in front of her terrace house in KL filled with flowers and some fruits and vegetable plants) that I have on my balcony watered and alive instead of shriveled and dead. Maybe a donation or two to the WWF or any donation box that I see at the order counter of the fast food joint I frequent. EnvironMENTALISTS would love pelting me with some rotten eggs by now. But heck, I love my life right now.

Am I babbling? I suppose I am. Consuming lots of food after breaking fast does that to people. Now where’s that nice cup of tea that I’m supposed to be having now that it’s late in the evening?

Monday, August 10, 2009

A 1974 Mercedes Benz 230.6 W114

A couple of weeks ago I tried a Mercedes. It was no ordinary new or nearly new Mercedes Benz but one that was as old as I was. At 37 years of age I am at the phase of life where running up a flight of stairs isn’t normal to do, or running for the sake of just running isn’t something we thirty-somethings would usually do. Although I do occasionally do try taking a flight of stairs in leaps and bound of two or three stairs at a time, most of the time it’s a step at a time. The body may decide to pull a hamstring or two if it felt it wasn’t warmed up enough to do the measly job of running up a flight of stairs. That’s being a 37 year old dignified bum and not Michael Schumacher.

Now the Mercedes W114 230.6 I tried is worse than I am right now in my mid to late thirties. At least I can still hop, skip and occasionally jump. But a 1974 230.6 is a very sedate ride to drive around in. Entering the car, starting it up and driving the darn thing for the first time is an experience from another lifetime, era, dimension, timezone or whatever word that reflects the difference it is from the motoring norm of today. I started up the car, released the handbrake, which was a grab-handle to the right of you and slotted into first. It was super vague and light. No notchiness and not much mechanical feel to it. Could be due to its age and slightly worn bushings. But coupled to its light clutch (yes, a 4 speed manual) it’s pretty easy to move off.

The steering wheel is almost the same thing. A total lack of feel. You would have almost no confidence if you came out from a modern day classic, which although most new cars lack feel isn’t like any experience you’d find. This is probably due to the recirculating ball set up instead of a usual rack and pinion job which you’ll find everywhere. Mercedes only started using the rack and pinion recently (post 2000 onwards) and this being a 1974 model, felt as if you’re steering an arcade game. There is no feel whatsoever of the road below you. It isn’t even like some cars where you’d say that its like you’re running and your soles are jelly, where your body reacts slightly slower than the road surface due to the vague surface. In this case, its like playing a 1980s race car game, you turn the steering, the car turns but there’s no feedback whatsoever from the road. It’s unnerving at speeds above 80km/h. But you eventually get slightly used to it. Now if you complain that the Subaru Impreza has a slightly vague steering compared to the Lancer Evolution, wait till you try this sucker on. The Impreza after a W114’s power steering is full of feel, like a Porsche 911’s, epic, superb, incredible, a paragon of modern engineering. So, everything’s relevant and subjective. We have it so much better than the 1970s.

Now handling is totally affected by the vague steering.. Due to it being a recirculating ball wheel, its also slow in its responses. Somehow, you’d adapt to the vagueness of the steering and turn like what you’d turn in a super tanker. You turn the wheel 3 to 4 days in advance of the corner you’re about to take. But all in all, you somehow manage to adapt to the slow and ridiculously steady pace of driving this car. This is what wafting is all about. Things are done slow, steady and winning does not matter. Arriving in style (or a few centuries too late) is what matters. You cruise around the roads of Kuala Lumpur is a style that’s long gone for this cosmopolitan city of about a million or two worth of residents. It reminds you of an age where you don’t rush anywhere. Everything is about quality and not quantity.

The 2.3liter 6 cylinder engine is a nice old school in line or straight 6 engine. It has ample pulling power and while slightly smokey due to its age, still had ample torque to pull it out of corners. Being a six, it is smooth for its age the car would easily cruise at 90km/h all day long without feeling stressed. The 4 speed manual could do with an overdrive, but in the early 1970s, this was the norm. Auto was a pricey option that not many took.

You tend to treat a car as old as this with a certain amount of respect. The same amount of respect you treat an 80 year old guy in a wheelchair. But the great thing about this old Merc is that it still is a sensible drive in the jam packed roads of Kuala Lumpur. Why so? It’s a Mercedes, it doesn’t overheat at the first semblance of a traffic jam. It’s built like a vault, meaning it’ll outlast you and will still be a fit old 80 year old car when at the age of 80 you’ll be in a wheelchair or a walking stick hobbling around slightly deaf and shouting loudly at other people thinking they’re deaf too.

Yes it doesn’t drive like that old MGB GT I once drove. The MGB was a sports car of its time, its steering responses are still fast to this day. This was because Mercedes was building a competent sedan, and not a sports car. Its slow steering meant that passengers won’t feel as if they’re riding in a dodgem car. The slowed responses, smooth ride cossets them, makes them feel good after hours in the car. Everything is sensible. So sensible that after 36 years of age, it still is a good nearly modern classic car to own. A W123 Mercedes would be an even more sensible buy with its more modern driving style but if you really want a big grille with vintage style lights, and lots of chrome bumpers, this is the one to get. I liked driving it. Slow, and dull witted it may be, but an experience nonetheless.

Note:W114s and W115 are essentially the same late 60s early 70s mid-sized sedans. The 114s are those equipped with 6 cylinder engines and the 115s with the smaller 4 cylinders ones.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Driving Pleasure:The Reason for Lack of Articles on this Blog

I've been a litte busy taking a break from writing. During the last month or so I've made the following road trips:

1. KL-IPOH-CAMERON HIGHLANDS (via Simpang Pulai) - KL (via old road to Tapah)
2. Two road trips to Muar in Johor. One of which in a Suzi Swift 1.5 which has amazing cruising ability by allowing us to travel from Tangkak to Seremban R&R in a mere 45 minutes.
3. A trip to Bukit Tinggi
4. KL-PENANG (Batu Ferrenggi) -KL via Simpang Pulai to CAMERON again and down via old road to Tapah -KL.

All in a month or a period of less than 6 weeks.

The driving experience was priceless. Especially the trip to the Highands. The weather was fine on both trips up and down and the Scooby TS was amazing. It's little engine easily hauling its arse up the windy roads to Brinchang and yes, there was a lack of power most of the time but you know that the chassis (on TEIN springs and front and rear strut bars) seems to be optimised for mountainside roads. Driving and attacking mountain roads is an experience that I somehow will never be bored of. I wonder where next?

Oh yeah. Tires. It seems that due to my extensive travels, I happen to run through a set every 8 to 9 months or so. I suppose this fact isn't healthy on my pocket. Hence the fact that I have to run, as some of my friend's put it, 'salesmen' tires. But being 215/45/17, it'll run me close to a thousand Ringgit on those with alignment and labour costs.

On another note. The Impreza 1.6TS which I drive just had its road tax renewed for its forth year. That's Four Years of Subaru ownership. It happened to 'reward' me with a cracked radiator sometime last week. I then had to get it fixed of course. Being a 1.6 normally aspirated engine, the radiator is a single core thin aluminium/plastic top thingy which I gladly upgraded to a used WRX STI radiator with a dual core. It is also an aluminium/plastic top thingy, but at least when or if I need to repair it, its already an uprated piece. The great thing about running a larger core radiator is that it has (obviously) more water, and therefore more cooling capacity. I noticed that on hotter days the engine runs as smooth as it does on most mornings. This is a good thing, as heat is an enemy of making power. It was a repair well worth it.

Why I'm writing this is because cars nowadays have this aluminium/plastic mix for their radiators. In those days, 1980s and below cars came withsolid copper radiators that hardly break after 4-5 years (which they do now). They don't make them in wholly aluminium except for aftermarket ones. The real reason for this is that any part that doesn't fail does not make profits for the manufacturer. In this case, radiator manufacturers. They need this part to fail every 5 years or so to keep them in business. Its a curse that will not go away. It's here to stay.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Yup. PETRONAS is already selling RON95 at some of its stations ahead of its September inroduction and this has made me a slightly happy man. The one station that I know is selling that stuff is the one on the MRRII somewhere after Kepong on the way towards Jalan Kuching/Batu Caves. I'm already using the stuff and from my observation, it works perfectly fine in my Impreza 1.6TS. No hiccups of any sort.

It should, since the owner's manual states that the car is recommended to run on the said substance. Most new global spec cars can run on the stuff. In fact all new cars with Fuel Injection can run on the stuff. These new engines have sensors here and there can will tell the ECU to retard or advance its ignition timing according to the quality of petrol that is in the car's tank. Most cars can even run on RON92 without any problems but hey, some are basically too scared to try. As I've stated in a previous posting. If your car is not a highly tuned monster, it should safely run on the cheaper stuff. Anyways, its your loss if you don't try it.

How much savings do I get from running RON95 over 97 (RM1.80)? Over 40 liters I'd save a 'whopping' RM2.00. But I use about 60liters a week, so I'd save around RM3.00 per week using RON95. Now RM3.00 x 4 weeks is RM12.00. It may seem insignificant, but RM12.00 can go a long way at the local sundry shop or at TESCO. Or that RM12.00 can be put to good use by blowing it all on entertaining friends at a teh tarik stall. At the very least your friends will think that you're a generous ol' chap. And that's a good thing during times of recession.

p.s - I've recently driven a nice classic Mercedes Benz saloon, of 1974 vintage. An excellent year. I haven't fallen in love with it, but it was an interesting drive nonetheless. It will be reviewed in here soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dearest BMW, Don't Design Garbage and Call Them Niche Cars Will Ya? a.k.a. The BMW X6

I was driving peacefully along the SPRINT highway somewhere in Petaling Jaya when I was passed by the monstrous BMW X6 3.0. This car was recently launched in this country and the driver must have been feeling proud driving that hideous monster up and down the roads of Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur. I seriously cannot understand how BMW came up with such a design brief and issued a go ahead to build this car in the first place. The design brief must have read:

Dear Mr Bangle (then Head of Design, BMW)

This is the Board of Directors writing to you. Hope you are fine. We need you and your 'brilliant' degsign team to come up with a Sports Utility Vehicle that has a sloping tailgate (like a hatchback), 4 doors, square jawed David Coulthard front end, funny lines here, there and everywhere, BMW front grill that is as flaired as nostrils from an angry gorilla and sitting on 20 inch tires.

The reason for this is that recently Mercedes has come up with the CLS and it concerns us. The CLS seems to be taking sales from our M5 and M3. We think the reason for that is that it looks pretty good. We now think that with this new SUV cum Sports Hatchback Coupe we can recover some of the ground lost to the CLS. We reckon that with a car that is a 'niche within a niche' BMW will be able to profit as this is what our customers want. They do not want a CLS i.e a coupe with 4 doors, but they, the ultimate driving customers want an SUV that is sporty.

Yours sincerely
The Board

What is heck's name were thay thinking? It makes no sense. The X6, according to a guy whom I know who rides a bike to work thinks it is a bulldog on wheels. I myself think 'why?'.

What makes BMW think that "I think our X5 customers want a coupe, but still want an SUV at the same time". So to kill a lot of birds with one ugly stone, BMW comes up with a 4 door hatchback that is slightly shorter than an x5 but as high as a Toyota Harrier.

Yes, BMW engineers can make it corner like a hot hatch, because basically it IS one, only ten times the size of one. What's the actual point? If you want to drive fast, buy an M3, buy an M5, buy a Mercedes CLS or buy a Megane R26R (IF YOU REALLY WANT A FAST HATCHBACK). Don't buy a stupid looking, pointless, idiotic, niche car that thinks it can do everything. Furthermore, as an SUV, it cannot even wade though mud. It can't tow a trailer. It can't do most things people buy SUVs for.

BMW hardly makes sense. Ah, Mercedes has tapped into a niche market with the CLS. We'll tap into ANOTHER niche market, they said. Yes, no one has thought of a 4 door coupe on stilts. So they built it.

By then, the X6 passed me by, leaving me with bitter thoughts about the pointlessness of its existence. Then a Proton Gen2 passed by. It then occured to me that the BMW X6 is actually a Gen2 that has been photoshopped with a different grill and lights and its size increased by 1.5times, running on 20inch rims instead of 15in rims and tires. BMW should give royalty to Proton. I'm right, trust me. Look at the pics below and tell me truthfully whether they're the same car or not?

Left: The Proton Gen2 Right: The BMW X6 (or was it the other way round?)

Then again, I may have started a new trend here. We're used to seeing Proton Wiras modded to have tall tires like palm oil estate rally cars, soon we'll see X6 replicas running around Kuala Lumpur. Why buy the X6 if you can make one for yourself cheaply?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Perak: The Lumbering State. Volvo: The Lumbering Brand

There has been lots of rubbish of the political sort being thrown around in the Malaysian state of Perak these past couple of months. The tussle between the two main parties has gone from the removal of the state minister with a new one and a new state speaker to replace the previous one due to the change in state government that happened because a few members of one side jumping ship to the other. Now all this nonsense has got me thinking. What actually has Perak got to offer anyone in the first place with the exception of the people in charge?

Why I am asking such a question is that it usually benefits the people in charge as they can give out grants, land and contracts to their family, friends, cronies and those that they feel deserves it. Of course, this is supposedly done through ‘transparent’ negotiation, application forms, tenders and meetings. But the biggest problem I see in Perak is that irregardless of who’s in charge, the state is one of the slowest developing states in Malaysia.

The whole state seems to be like Taiping (see the pic below). Slow, idyllic, beautiful, a haven to pensioners and a place where we can sit at the market and point to a spot and place a bet with your friends stating: “The rain will come and its first drop with hit that spot at 2.30pm…for 10 Ringgit”.

It honestly is that slow. The traders who sell stuff at the market actually do that. They can and will wager a bet on anything and everything around Taiping as they’ve got nothing better to do with their lives. I should know. I was born and raised in Taiping and I still love Taiping for what it is (due to good food and its heritage actually). I can even predict atmospheric patterns to this day and age.

Actually the main problem with Perak is that it is a state in between Penang and Selangor (or more accurately, the Klang Valley). Development is concentrated in the two states and all trade centers around these two growth areas. The spillover of the development in Penang is towards Kedah, from Sungai Petani to Kulim and in Selangor, most of the development has gone towards Negeri Sembilan towards the Nilai district. It seems that Perak has not been able to gain any spillover from actual manufacturing and even in tourism; things do not seem that colourful. The only thrill I get in Perak is passing Jelapang toll to the North towards Taiping, where it passes through slightly ‘mountainous’ terrain. The North South Highway at that stretch is at its highest, with a nice long tunnel to listen to the exhaust note bounce off of it and nice uphill and downhill dual carriageways for you to enjoy sweeping corners as well as tight bends. It might un-nerve some drivers, but I enjoy that stretch tremendously.

Perak has Pangkor Island and Lumut as seaside resort locations. Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) as its hillside resort, and Taiping (including Pasir Salak) as its heritage site. But not much development or promotion has been actually done to make these sites. Of course there would be environMENTALists that would like to see the state under-developed so that places like Maxwell Hill be pristine and undisturbed. But heck, I love Maxwell Hill, but the only way to reach that place is by the government Land Rovers or if you enjoy hiking, a good 5-6 hour trek upwards. The last and only time I trekked up Maxwell Hill I was 15. If I went trekking again, I’d probably give up after the first 50 feet uphill. If I carried on any further, I’d suffer from breathing difficulties. Okay, no vehicle pollution for the hill. Could someone install a cable car service then? Not some flimsy cable car like the one in Langkawi, 1 piece of wire with one hook holding the cabin up to a wire isn’t what I call a safe way of travel. As a friend said, “if you had a choice between sky-diving and scuba diving, always choose scuba diving ‘cause your head may survive a scuba dive over a sky dive without a properly opening parachute”.

Pangkor can be another Langkawi if someone as visionary as our Tun Mahathir came along and decided that we need another Langkawi and pushed any development like crazy. We have Lumut as the Corte D’Azur and say, Pangkor as an Island paradise close to it. That would be fabulous. But notice that the roads leading to Lumut ain’t a fantastic highway to make travel easy. No one actually has done a proper development plan for the state of Perak and someone should do so soon. What? You want me to come up with one instead of complaining? Who says I don’t have a plan? I’m not getting paid for it so it’s staying in my brilliant brain for the moment. Of course, neither I’m being paid to maintain this blog but that’s a different matter isn’t it?

Perak is slightly stuck in a time warp, where time moves slowly compared to the two other states. It is not 1875, 1975 or even 1995. It’s 2009, and Perak needs a big push and therefore could the state government, whoever is in charge please buck up, set aside differences, move forward and stop all this nonsense. Is that actually so much to ask?

If Perak were a car it’ll be a Volvo 240. Years ago around 1875 when tin was being mined, rubber beginning to be planted and when Ngee Hin fought Hai San. It was a happening place to live. Nowadays, it’s basically the same car being driven around by a pensioner who happens to live in Taiping in the year 2009. Or if the pensioner used his EPF money draw out, he’d buy a used 1995 850GLT and think,

“Damn, that’s progress!This 850 is a mighty fine car.”

But he failed to note that the year is 2009 and the 850 is already a decade and a half old and car dynamics and basically progress has changed for the better. And that's how modern Perak is, in my opinion.

Things have moved on and even Volvo has moved on with their current S80 (right). With their IKEA styled center dash and modern, dare I say it Honda like looks and very acceptable ride and handling. However good a 240 is in ferrying people around, it’s too laid back. Yes there are twin turbo Supra engined 240s around which are actually fun and hilarious to drive. But ol’ Grandpa Abdullah still wouldn’t run fast with the latest pair of Addidas or after a heart transplant. You wouldn’t want to try out corner even a Satria GTI in one if you get what I mean.

As for Volvo, it too needs a bigger push. As good as the new S80 is, I still don't see anyone thinking about buying it. It still needs more image makeovers here in Malaysia (and maybe the world). No one actually really stops to think about buying a Volvo. Seriously. Unless he's looking for an estate like the V50. For RM250k+, most would buy the smaller Mercedes c200 or even the BMW 320. More dynamic Volvos please? or more race exposure to bring in the younger crowd (like what they did in the 1990s in the BTCC with their outrageous Volvo 850 wagons).

But I’d leave Taiping as it is. Those in the know would understand

The 240. Nice car, great Memories. But things have moved on a bit. Use one now in stock form and you'll be called 'Granpa' even if you're only 30 years old.

The 850. In R form, pretty fast box. I remember seeing one which really went for it on the then newly completed SPRINT highway in Petaling Jaya sometime in 1999 going like stink. Awesome shoebox! Great if you could find 850T5-R. Fab sounding 5 cylinder and turbo grunt to go.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Hour and An Old Mercedes Worth Mentioning About

A month has come and gone. We had Earth Hour recently. We had Earth Day also recently (which I think made absolutely no impact on saving the planet whatsoever). We had a change of Prime Ministers recently (good riddance to the previous, hope for the best in the new one!), and we had 3 by-elections for us coffeeshop political analysts to sit around and have their unofficial post mortems to chat about. As for yours truly, yes, I did my part during earth hour. My family and I were at my wife’s family home in Petaling Jaya where we basically sat in the dark and gossiped about family matters. Now how many of you actually turned off their lights during Earth Hour? Remember, its turning off the lights, not life support machines for the elderly or incubators for premature babies. Imagine if people did just that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Economic Stimulus? On Blogging and on certain events in the Automotive World

Ah, that's more like it. A RM60 BILLION stimulus package is what we all need. Provided the money reaches the general public instead of going through some politician's campaign fund first. Aside from that, let's add some figures to the picture. America, the main cause of this current economic turmoil is spending USD$200 Trillion and our neighbours are spending SGD$21 billion. I suppose our package is somewhat 'reasonable', before you take into account the fact that Singapore has about 7 million people to feed compared to at least 27 million of us here. America has around 290million people by the way. You guys do the math. Is the economic package big enough?

On another note, it's been fun blogging for the past two and a half years. Of course, this blog doesn't read like most blogs, where some would write on what they had for breakfast, what they had for lunch and then what they had for dinner. What dress they choose to wear today, yesterday or tomorrow. What they feel about the current political scenario or what pictures or poems they took or wrote. On an average, I write about 1.5 articles per month and since this blog's been around for almost 3 years, do feel free to browse what I've written previously.

On an automotive note, I am pretty happy that the new Honda City looks like a car instead of another tadpole on stilts. I truly despise the previous one. There is no other car that's as horrifying to own. Well, maybe the Hyundai Accent (also the previous one with all those stupid RX-S badging and fake scoops) as that car is so anonymous that a lamp post outshines it.

I also somehow pleased that most of my friends and relatives choose to purchase somewhat different from the norm automobiles. The recent being my wife's cousin, who is a somewhat happy owner of a Toyota Caldina GT4. I told him that it was a better alternative than one of those Toyota Wish or Estimas that everyone who's married with kids wants to own. He recently got married and all the best to him.

At his wedding reception his government contractor friend with a Mercedes E55 look a like was there. Now he has gone nearly the whole hog to transform his W211 E240 into a quasi-E55. The only difference is the 6 cylinder hum from the engine and a lack of a humongous rear diff that the E55 has. This a a chap who paid almost RM25K for a set of AMG brakes to make the look complete. The things people do to achieve automotive bliss.

I have to give a big hand to the guy who owns the blue Lancer Evolution 7.10. I'd say his ride is now an EVO 7 point 10 on the richter scale. It has everything and safely pumps at least 450bhp at the engine. This is after meticulous research, a brilliant mechanic and an owner who does not cut corners to achieve a target. Another way to achieve automotive bliss. But I'd hate to be the passenger in that car right now. When it had 350bhp at the engine I was slight nauseous, with 450bhp, I'd destroy his car mats.

On a closing note. Now that there are 3 lanes on the North-South highway. Things are so much better for me. I don't mind travelling North or even South. My last trip to Singapore took me 3 hours with a 45 minute break at Air Keroh, Melaka. And last weekend, traveling back from Muar took a decent time even with ridiculously heavy traffic due to the recent 3 day weekend. It should have been done years ago.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Malaysia vs New Zealand and the ugliest vehicle in the known universe

While I was on holiday in Langkawi a couple of months ago I got a little pissed in between munching down the turkey ham and sausages during breakfast. The notion of paying RM450++ a night for a chalet suite with breakfast at a 5 star resort in Langkawi seemed pretty reasonable. The notion that we had to pay the same amount for a small room at a business class hotel located at Queens Street in Singapore seemed outrageous nonetheless. It occurred to me that my Malaysian Ringgit’s value is slightly higher than rubbish outside of the country with the exception of supposedly poorer countries like Thailand, Indonesia and India. I’m sorry. But I have to say that Malaysia is a country that’s supposed to have much more better purchasing power than it currently has right now. And the argument that I shall put up is the nation of New Zealand.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Drive Experience: The BMW Seven Hundred and Fifty (E38 750i)

Now pay attention folks. This here is the first Uber-Saloon ever produced by a German marque since the almighty Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 in the 1970s. The BMW Seven Hundred and Fifty as Q mentioned in the James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, or simply 750iL as what you and me would normally call it is an engineering marvel. Although the 750 mentioned in the Bond movie is the newer E38 model, the predecessor E32 is the car mentioned here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Slightly Off Topic: Okay, you’ve got your nice sports saloon….what else is there to do with your life?

You’ve already got your ___________(fill in the space here with your supermobile – MPVs aren’t included as they’re family mass carriers, telling the whole world you’re married with a ton of kids, hence very uncool). Now your ride has all that style/handling/horsepower (in any order whatsoever) your life is all but complete, till the next ride you’re hankering for that is. What else is there to do with your life?

It’s quite simple actually. You turn onto yourself. The reason being is that when you emerge from your Subaru Impreza or Lancer Evolution or even an Audi A4 at the hip “el fresco” stall that’s about half a hour’s drive (i.e.your regular happenin’ mamak stall) dressed in your fat crocs, your favourite t-shirt with that cigarette burn mark right on your tummy showing off your pale skin and shorts that only have a place on the football field you’re not only telling me and that you’re a sloppy dresser, but you have no respect for the car you drive. Why do I say so?

Firstly, you drive a fancy or luxurious car. People would be bound to stare when you make an entrance. The car passing by the stall before you park for instance. People would look and then keep on looking to see who (or what kind of horrific monster) emerges from the fancy automobile.

Secondly, the image of someone who dresses decently always captures the attention of most people (in a good way) instead of an image of a person who dresses like the neighbourhood lunatic (notice that every area has a dishevelled man/woman roaming the area in dirty and/or torn clothing). Just look at James Bond…..he does not drive off or exit his car dressed like a filthy psychotic pig farmer from Heck. And please, don’t tell me that you’ve never once in your whole life wanted to carry a Walther PPK, drive an Aston Martin, have a licence to kill and get to bed women with colourful names like Pussy Galore or Xenia Onattop. If you do, as would any red blooded men who is alive today, you’d want to be James Bond. Don't tell me that you can afford to take a half an hour's drive to the mamak and you can't spend 5 minutes throwing a decent outfit together. A pair of khakis or jeans, a polo T and a pair of driving mocs is only three pieces of clothing. What is so hard in that? Is it different from beach bum shorts, round neck t-shirt with a burn mark in it and a pair of rubber flip-flops which are also three items of clothing?

So you drive your fancy sedan or a pseudo rally monster or even an SUV and think you want to be James Bond. Just look what James Bond drives in Quantum of Solace; Aston Martin DBS, stolen Ford 4X4, a rented newly facelifted Volvo S40 (just before the Tosca theatre scene, a Range Rover to name a few. The Tom Ford tuxedo and suits aside, he also wears a decent pair of suede ankle boots for the finale, some decent pair of pants/khakis and a polo t-shirt or short sleeve shirt with a short jacket on top of it. Would it be too hard if you too tried this attire? You don’t have to go get exactly what James Bond wears. Just wear decent shoes when you drive that nice car of yours and you’ll seem to look properly dressed compared to others.

Ever notice how many people seem to go around in their rubber flip-flops or cheap looking leather but not leather sandals? Notice if they wore real quality sandals or shoes they would look slightly more dressed up even though they are wearing their oldest t-shirt and scruffiest looking pair of jeans they can find. It putting on a nice pair of sandals or shoes a hard thing to do? Is it so hard for you to invest in a pair of driving mocs or shoes and use it to the mamak stall? Is it also hard for you to wear a pair of jeans instead of some beach shorts that are meant for the beach? Especially if you have extremely scrawny legs you look pathetic. If you’re female, then shorts or skirts are fine, I’m discussing men here okay. So when you exit your ride at the mamak stall, everyone will at least say you're decently dressed for the car you drive. This is an image building thing, not an elitist thought.

Note- The only reason I’m using poor ol’ James ‘ere as an example is that that chap is the closest character who actually dresses decently most of the time and one that is easily recognised by all. I on the other hand wouldn’t follow James Bond to the ‘T’ on the fact that he’s a secret agent (no bright colours that may make him stand out in the crowd) and he doesn’t live in the humid tropics like I do (although you may see how he dresses for hot and humid climates in Casino Royale – Madagascar and the Caribbean scenes are the best)

One more for the road - Why are MPVs uncool? James Bond doesn't own one or even drive one, hence I rest my case.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Current Economic Crisis and Build Quality in Cars - The old Datsun wins over the Continentals

Recently the whole world seems to be facing some sort of economic crisis. American financial institutions like Frannie May, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and so on have toppled. Banks in Europe also suffering from the same calamity. The price of petrol has gone down drastically within a period of 2 months. People getting thrown out of their jobs. People stopping their purchases on new electronic goods. The list goes on and on.

Basically the economic system as we know it is faulty. Let me give you a straight forward example of what is happening on a local scale. Let’s imagine that you and 100,000 of your friends decide to take up RM1 million each of loans. Then you tell them that we should not bother paying back these loans. The bank would go into cardiac arrest. RM1,000,000,000,000.00 is something that the bank doesn’t rightly have to give out for free in the first place and it is most probably that the bank had to get an interbank loan to come out with that stately amount. So once you and your friends default, it is very likely that the bank would not be able to pay the sum it borrowed from the other banks and it would be bankrupt. The other banks who in turn loaned a few billion to that bank would also be affected, and they too would become bankrupt. Once bankrupt, and if these banks were not given a governmental bailout, we’d see thousands on unemployed bankers. We’d also see people rushing to these banks trying to get their money out from their accounts before it all goes to heck. If the central bank does not guarantee all deposits, everyone’s going to be broke. Once everyone is broke, no one buys new calculators, cars, PDAs, telephones, clothers or even food; thus making factory workers, farmers, managers, engineers all out of a job and joining the bankers having a nice cosy chat by the Penang bridge, where some of these people have decided to take a closer look at the sea right below it.

What I’ve basically said is that it is not hard to topple any economy. All we have to do is gang up and not pay anyone. It is as horrifyingly simple as that. And after all has been said and done, we should all go back to farming. Each of us growing what we need and barter trading for what we don’t have. 10 eggs for a bunch or two of cabbages please.

So as we’ve seen, the economy is pretty beaten up today and you have been thinking of changing to a newer car but is now prevented to do so due to the fact that times are bad. The real question you have to ask is that is your car really that shitty to drive after 5 years of ownership? The actual answer is no. As a consumer, you are bombarded by marketing and hype as well as trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Every time you pick up a motoring magazine someone tells you that it may be uneconomical to drive around in a car older than 10 years. Someone also says that the car you bought has terrible build quality and will disintegrate after a week’s usage. The whole truth of the matter is that nothing of that sort will happen.

Take a look carefully when you drive along any busy road in KL and you will find cars older than 15 years still conveniently plying the streets. You can see old Datsuns, Toyota Corollas, 1st generation Proton Sagas with their metal bumpers, old Mercedes (W123, W124, W126 and some W116 even) and so on. Many of these older cars are still going strong and will have many years of service still in them.

So what’s the point of this then? Very Simple. Have you ever got into a discussion where someone told you that the reason he bought a certain continental car due to the fact that it has fabulous build quality? The chap so adamant that his new BMW was built from a solid ingot of silver and nothing will break in that car? Well you tell him that you’ve got news for him. His RM200k car will have the same chance of surviving past 15years as the person who bought the RM30k Perodua Viva. The reason is out there for him to see.

Take a look over to some older Hondas, Nissans and even Mitsubishis on the road today. Some of these cars have heen around since the seventies and are still performing tasks for their owners. Note that their supposedly flimsy signal stalks, door handles, wing mirrors that most people criticised still work perfectly. Take a look at the old Datsun (pre Nissan) 120y beside you on the road and see that it still cruises at 90km/h on the highway. Look around you. Do you see a continental car from the same era at that Datsun? You might see the odd Mercedes, but these are the exception. They are actually built from solid steel blocks and cut to size. Do you see any old Ford Escorts, Fiats or VWs from the 1970s? occasionally you do see one or two, but what you do see are old Datsuns, Toyotas and other Japanese cars. Yes, in the beginning these were flimsy looking and feeling cars. Their controls feel tinny and cheap to hold. But why are they still on the road compared to those supposedly solidly built continentals? Build quality? Or just because it’s cheap to maintain?

The thing about these cars is that they are built using cheap looking plastics with no tactile feel whatsoever. However, these items last. Having no tactile feel does not mean it is doing a bad job. It is just doing its job even more soullessly than a switch with more feel. Somehow, it is because of this fact that I sometimes ignore people who like to argue that their continental is the best car in the world. The hard fact is that 20 years down the road, their ultimate driving machine is just scrap metal, whereas a 20 year old Toyota, is still usable and friendly enough to be used in KL on a day to day basis.

An example of continental engineering and build quality; a father of a friend of mine recently sold off with 1988 Jaguar XJ6 2.9 (XJ40 series) for a grand sum of RM3,000.00. The reason is that no one wanted it with its slightly faulty brakes and what not. Note that some 1989 Honda Civic hatchbacks are going for RM15,000.00 if the condition immaculate. Which is of better quality? The Jag, or the Civic? You figure it out.

The XJ40 Series Jaguar (pictured)- My Friend should have told me!!!!! I'd gotten that RM3K Jag for weekends! If it breaks down, just leave it at the roadside, like some Arab Sheikh who has too many cars!