Today, Mr Freddy Sim drives a half-million-dollar Maserati GranTurismo, but the 55-year-old financial planner still remembers his humble background well.
His late parents held several jobs - sometimes concurrently - to make ends meet. His father worked as a bus conductor, security guard, deliveryman and petrol-kiosk attendant, while his mother was a fish stall assistant, factory worker, laundry woman and construction worker.
To help the family, Mr Sim started working at 15. Even back then, he loved cars and fantasised about Jaguars.
He bought his first car, a Hyundai Excel 1.3, when he became an insurance agent in 1988. In 1992, he switched to a Nissan Sunny 1.5 and, two years later, a BMW 318i.
By then, his career had started to take off and he bought a Mercedes-Benz E200in 1996.
He finally fulfilled his childhood dream in 2003 when he bought a Jaguar S-Type. Four years later, it was back to Mercedes - a CLK Cabriolet.
When sport utility vehicles became the rage here, the father of four bought a Porsche Cayenne in 2012. But two years later, he realised he prefers sports cars and went for the Maserati GranTurismo.
Mr Sim says the ride fits his lifestyle and that he loves to "arrive in style" in the big Italian coupe.
"I love its stunning, muscular design, V8 sound, speed and power," he says, but admits that he is moved even more by the car's design. "It reminds me of a shark, with its aggressive front grille and gill-like openings on its flanks."
He adds that it is a fairly practical two-door vehicle, with adequate space for four. Even his oldest son, a 22-year-old, has space to "stretch his legs" at the back.
He has three other sons, aged 16, 15 and two, with his second wife Viviena, who is also his business partner.
He keeps a busy schedule, splitting his time among work, the gym, church and family. But he sets aside time to enjoy his Maserati. For instance, he drives to Malaysia with fellow sports car enthusiasts.
Apart from the Maserati GT, which he describes as a sports car and a family car, he also has a Toyota Estima eight-seater.
Hence, the Maserati GT, which has been trouble-free, has clocked only 29,000km since 2014. He says: "I know next to nothing at all about car maintenance. So, I send it for servicing promptly. Although fuel consumption is on the high side, it is immaterial because the car gives me great joy."
Asked about his next dream ride, he names the Lamborghini Aventador for its "extreme styling, power and speed" and the Bentley Continental GT for its pomp and practicality.
Then, all too quickly, he points back to his Maserati, adding: "I'm in no rush to change because I still love this one."
• The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.
What's in the boot?
• Briefcase with laptop and important documents