Singapore's Allure For SpeedThe well-traveled enthusiast is oft infatuated by what those in other regions drive and how exactly those individuals' automotive cultures compare with their own. The lines are hardly blurred between USDM-destined Japanese or European makes versus said makes that remain in their respective homelands, which makes spotting the real deal, more often than not, a rare treat for the traveler. And this goes without saying when concerning those cars long unavailable to those stateside. Such admiration can be attributed to the U.S.' stringent automotive regulations, for outside our borders, manufacturers are freer to differentiate their products on a performance basis, which quite possibly makes such cars better candidates for tuning. When coupled with comparatively lax environmental protection and passenger safety laws, the models sold in other countries can be looked at as outlets for an arguably more enjoyable driving experience. Yes, driving and tuning practices can be quite the contrary to what we're used to when concerning countries in which its residents are less bound by automotive drama-laden legal mumbo jumbo.
Take Singapore for example, a bastion of contradictions, a city-state with just about the strictest rules for car ownership, but yet holds true to a genuine love for motorsports. Lofty customs duties on imported vehicles and pricey road-use charges make Singapore just about the most expensive place to own a car. Other regulatory obstacles make ownership even more difficult. A certificate of entitlement must be obtained from the government before one is able to purchase a vehicle in the first place. It takes more than money to get what you want in Singapore. Despite the challenges, Singaporeans have an insatiable appetite for cars. Recently, the government not only agreed to host the first ever nighttime Formula 1 street race, but the country's minister for community development also identified the motorsports industry as "a growth industry that will contribute to sports development and the economy." The aftermarket auto industry is quickly becoming a source of income and recreation for Singaporeans.
And why wouldn't it? Few things cross international borders as easily as the passion for modified cars. Southeast Asia is an important beneficiary in terms of its geographic proximity to Japan, the second largest automobile market in the world. Fast JDM-spec turbocharged imports are common sightings on Singapore's high-priced expressways and draw large followings when it comes to their version of the illegal street race. Slews of Japanese tuners have set up distribution centers for their products in the region, greatly contributing to the performance industry's growth. It appears that motorsports enthusiasts have developed a language that can be understood worldwide, although in this case it would not be tremendously difficult, after all, Singapore's official language is English. Consider how much information can be gathered from the pictures alone. Place a few vinyl decals of highly recognizable tuning establishments on the exterior of any vehicle and observers can derive the most pertinent information about the products underhood. Mention Prodrive, Motec, HKS, Cusco, A'PEXi, ARC, Tanabe, Tomei or Cometic and a mental image surely forms.