[CAR REVIEW] 1967 Porsche 912: Liking It Raw

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Text by Cheryl Tay

Photos by Adrian Wong

 

There’s nothing quite like driving a classic car, like this rare 1967 Porsche 912 here, to experience the real feeling of driving.

376312_445925932108316_1990917381_nMotoring purists would know what I mean when I say I like the raw feeling of driving. Feeling the carburettor in your feet and smelling the fuel from within the cabin were just part of my experience driving a 1967 Porsche 912. 

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A true classic indeed, I was initially apprehensive and scared to drive the car and was really gentle with it, because I was afraid that this 45-year-old machine would be too fragile.

561125_445927108774865_348031131_nBut once we were out on the roads, I adapted to it quite quickly and soon I was taking it to speeds of 90km/h in its highest (fifth) gear!

409769_445922712108638_1364279468_nThis 1967 Porsche 912 is only one of two left in Singapore today, belonging to Singaporean Lim Tiam Hai, an avid fan of all things vintage. Hai loves collecting vintage cars and draws great satisfaction from restoring them back to daily use in modern time. Other than restoring classic vehicles at his workshop VesVolk in Johor Bahru, he also runs a retro-themed diner called Kombi Rocks at 66 Yio Chu Kang Road.

599292_445927675441475_1862548739_nIt was four years ago when Hai got to know about this 912 through a customer at his diner. Managing to persuade the owner to sell it to him, Hai bought it for S$85,000 then, before spending the past three years painstakingly restoring it. Thus far, Hai has spent about S$80,000 on restoration works for this 912 and even had to renew its Certificate of Entitlement (COE) for over S$30,000 last year. The car is eligible for Singapore’s classic car scheme, where only 10 per cent of the COE and road tax is required, but the car can only be driven 28 days a year. Preferring to have the 912 as a daily drive, Hai registered it under the normal car scheme.

 

Hai was telling me how the 912 was in quite a bad shape when he acquired it. Completely rusty, Hai worked hard on renewing the car inside out.

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558285_445924408775135_1125912088_nHousing only original parts, he swapped the old seats (that had no headrests) with original seats of a newer-generation classic Porsche, changed the rims and gave it a totally new paint job from its original silver to this cream beige colour.

557061_445927555441487_1457975840_nThe first thing I did when I got into the car was to reach out for the seat belt, immediately laughing out loud when I realised there weren’t any. The next thing I usually do when I get into a car for the first time is to adjust the mirrors, but this 912 only has one side mirror!

482034_445924602108449_1753116656_nSpoilt by modern technologies and innovations, it took me some time to familiarise myself with the knobs and dials of the 912. There are no onboard computers, no electronic seats, no reverse parking sensors, no fanciful amenities or technological driving aids, no central locking, no electric windows – everything was minimalist. Think manual wind-up windows and pull-out knobs for the headlights.

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578657_445924532108456_385627536_nWhile I adored the joy of such pure driving, I have to admit it was a tad exhausting. Because of the absence of power steering, suddenly the typically effortless manoeuvres such as U-turns and three-point turns needed a lot of strength and effort. Then there’s also the heavy clutch – for the case of this particular 912, the gears have to be engaged intuitively and I had to make sure that the revs do not drop below 1,000rpm at any one time or the engine will stall. Without features like brake assist, I also needed a lot of anticipation to brake much earlier and harder.

602521_445925698775006_541682912_nTo make the ride more suited for today’s needs and preferences, Hai added an air-conditioning system and an in-car audio system, neatly housed in the glove box. I preferred to have the air-conditioning turned off and the windows down instead, so I could appreciate the raw sounds of the engine on the drive. The 1.6-litre rear-engined 912 is capable of drawing lots of attention and stares on the roads and Hai often gets people coming up to him asking, “This kind of car still exists?!”

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394683_445924802108429_1809251185_n484045_445925178775058_195024457_nBesides this 912, Hai’s existing vintage fleet includes four Volkswagen Kombis, two Volkswagen Beetles and a cute Austin Healey – all of which are registered for normal road usage and rented out for weddings or other commercial purposes. It all started in 1996 when he restored his first Vespa and managed to sell off the refurbished classic. Since then, he was hooked and he went on to collect vintage motorbikes, bicycles, cars and vans to restore and sell. Hai even goes to the extent of following vintage vehicle owners home just so he can make them an offer to buy the vehicles back. On one occasion, Hai waited a whole 10 years before the Indian owner of a 1961 Lambretta Series 1 scooter finally agreed to sell it to him. That’s persistence for you!

 

No one else in Hai’s family is keen in classics and Hai was in fact discouraged by his parents when he brought home that first Vespa. They told him to scrap it and buy a new one instead of wasting time and money to restore and rebuild it. He endured and pursued his passion against all odds, even resurrecting his retired father’s Koon Kee Restaurant to today’s Kombi Rocks at 66 Yio Chu Kang Road that serves up a mean menu of Thai-Chinese inspired cuisine.

306649_445927988774777_1899642172_n

599524_445928702108039_1313735621_n541434_445928575441385_624495297_n559066_445929082108001_2021503933_n578896_445928918774684_2049591545_nHai loves anything vintage and hence the décor of Kombi Rocks is filled with antiquated collectibles, some of which are for sale. He said, “I love the originality of a classic and the feeling of taking something that others deem worthless and converting it into something of value. Think of a vintage car as fine wine – it gains more value as it ages!”

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For more photos of this Porsche 912 and Kombi Rocks, view here.

 

Also watch my video review on it here:

 

 

*This was first published in Autogridz.

 

Kombi Rocks

66 Yio Chu Kang Road

Singapore 545568

T: +65 9008 6918

E: wheels@kombirocks.com

W: http://www.kombirocks.com

 

Opening Hours: 

Mon – Sun (closed on Wed)

1200-1430hrs, 1800-2130hrs

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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