Monthly Archives: December 2019

Achtung Bitte: My “Bugs-Wagen” Sob Story

My long-time dream of owning a German-made car came to fruition in 1998 – in the form of a 4-year old secondhand maroon-coloured VW Passat. Being in Singapore, I had paid S$76,000 for that SOB (“Son Of the Beetle”).

I loved the clean sleek design, and the feel of tight, precision Teutonic engineering.  Driving it was sheer exhilaration.  However, my joy was short-lived.  Spare parts were extremely expensive.

Worse, after about 6 months, the auto gearbox malfunctioned – always jumping back from 4th to 2nd gear unexpectedly.  The agent – Champion Motors – told me the fault could not be fixed, and I would need to fork out S$10,000 to buy a new gearbox!!  So, I took the car to an outside mechanic who did a temporary fix – and then I sold it for S$60,000/= (the Asian currency crisis was in full swing then). Sob, sob.

What The Fiat Was This Car?

Going back to the mid-1960s, I had a neighbour who used to sell cloth at the market several miles away from the kampong. One day, his son brought home a funny-looking car — apparently to help in transporting the family business merchandise.

Firstly, the driver seemed to be sitting in the rear, and facing rearwards!! And the car actually went “gostan” most of the time – at least that was what my young and imaginative mind thought!! 

As can be seen in the photo, the sloping end was actually the rear (engine was rear-mounted) , while the much more upright end was the front.

Interestingly, it had “suicide doors” in front, and even more intriguingly, the spare wheel was kept inside the front passenger compartment.  Legroom must have been tight.

It was only recently that I learned the model was the Fiat Multipla.