In a country with such drastic laws to control the growth of vehicle numbers, it’s amazing to find such a dedicated following of JDM enthusiasts. We may complain about high car prices and increasing fuel costs. But this is nothing compared to what a hardcore JDM enthusiast in Singapore has to go through.¬†Whilst in other countries we merely have to contend with rising fuel costs, draconian road laws and mounting public pressure (whilst not having a super efficient public transportation system); Singapore’s potential car buyers have to deal with so much more. After buying a piece of paper which entitles you to own a car, for anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 SGD (2.63- 3.95 million Japanese yen), the driver then has to pay for import duty at 41% of the car’s cost. Following which an additional tax of 150% of the car’s market value is to be paid. Finally a registration fee of 1,000 SGD (65,857 yen) is paid.


This quickly adds up to astronomical sums and deter any potential enthusiasts. Furthermore, after 10 years the car must be scrapped or an additional tax of the same 40,000 to 60,000 SGD has to be paid! This incredible piece of legislation has made Singapore (a country of 700 km2 and 4 million people) to be the second largest exporter of used cars after Japan.


This leaves only dedicated and slightly insane enthusiasts keeping the older cars in working order and prepared to pay the additional money to keep their treasured possessions on the road. So the cars you see here are owned by not just ordinary enthusiasts, but diehard enthusiasts. Willing to go through huge financial hurdles just to own that one ride. A track car with a daily driver is a far and distant dream for many. Whilst owning these cars you could be slapped with many an infringement notice, continually heckled by other drivers who consider you to be a hoon, tax after tax, soaring fuel prices and no track days within the country. If you consider yourself a enthusiast one might ask this, if all these conditions were thrown at you would you still own one of these?


When you think about it, it’s amazing that there are so many older JDM cars still on the road in Singapore. And with such wallet imploding costs involved it’s even more startling to find that cars are modified to such a beautiful degree.¬†Even in the yellow sodium filled streetlights in the hot festering damp, the cars were something to behold. No ratty tatty here, no bumpers falling off, no paint fade or even unpainted putty. All were kept in fantastic shape. Being here tonight has taught me to cherish what we are given.

But the guys i met tonight, they don’t seem perturbed. Eager to chat about parts ordered, plans for the future of their car and general scene culture. Relaxing by railings, watching cars drive by they hardly seem to have a care in the world.

The car enthusiasts of Singapore, i salute you.


Words – Benson Lau

Photos – Benson Lau

Special thanks to – Brendan Mok (9tro Magazine)


  1. whats the use of souping up the car when you dont have any road to try it ? LOL except using Malaysian highways.

  2. Rowan McMahon

    Malaysia is simply a drive away for these guys……… aaaaand trust me… Singapore has great highway system la..

    My first trip to Singapore ever… Well second I should say… But my first “grown up” trip to singapore …

    My 160kmh hyundai driven in-the-wet taxi ride to my friends’ house… I saw the nicest s15 I’d ever seen.
    Be it real life… On the net.. In Australia or Japan. Hands down the nicest s15 I’d ever seen. To this date it’s still the nicest… I remember it as we over took it in the tunnel… White… Slammed… Black SSR professor sp1… Supermade instant gentleman kit… Full family inside…..

    Simply the nicest s15 I’d ever seen from any magazine or car blog or car show… And it was being driven…. With a family.

    I love sinagpura

    1. Amen to that. It’s quite scary at how relaxed they seem. It feels so… normal. Yet when you look at the total bill of the car, you can’t help but feel your heart stop.

  3. And here i thought its crap to pay 3 times over the price of your car to import it in Russia not including the transportation to port => to town, the registration and insurance, and 1 dollar per liter of quite crap oil..
    Ok, im fine now, we’re not the WORST in the world, at least.

  4. Happens here in the Philippines too. Only those who want the car that bad would have to pay a shit ton of money just to get the cars in, And you still have to make sure that all your documentation is legit since a lot of fly by night fixers offer their services and give you fake documents.

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