Me And My Car

Going for the basic: Former national cyclist Jansen Tan prefers cars without too much electronics

Mr Jansen Tan with his Porsche 911 (Type 964) and Land Rover Defender 110.
Mr Jansen Tan with his Porsche 911 (Type 964) and Land Rover Defender 110.PHOTO: FLYNN WONG

Former competitive drifter and national cyclist Jansen Tan has owned a slew of rides. His first was a red Nissan Silvia S13 sports coupe, a gift from his parents.

Three cars currently sit in the garage of his family's bungalow in Kembangan: a fiery red Porsche 911 (Type 964) complete with an RWB wide-body conversion kit from Japan, a Land Rover Defender 110 and a matte black Mercedes-Benz G350 (not pictured here).

When asked to use one word to describe what he looks for in all his cars, the 34-year-old replies:

"Basic."


Mr Jansen Tan with his Porsche 911 (Type 964) and Land Rover Defender 110. PHOTO: FLYNN WONG

He adds: "I know most people wouldn't understand how the word is related to my current cars, so let me explain. When I say basic, I mean that my cars don't have much electronics compared to many cars nowadays.

  • WHAT'S IN THE BOOT OF THE DEFENDER:

  • • Bicycles

    • Tools

    • Spare change of clothes

    • Camera equipment

"The Defender is as simple as a car can get. After all, it was built to take huge abuse in the toughest of conditions. Likewise, the G-Class. Sure, the Merc has more tech features than the Defender, but put it next to the BMW X5 or Audi Q7 and it's pretty basic."

"As for my 911, given that it was registered in 1991, I think it is safe to say that it has a whole lot less electronics than the latest 991 model."

The reason for his reluctance to own cars with plenty of on-board electronics is two-fold.

"I am a workaholic, often spending 16 hours at the office. Hence, I don't have time to wait while my car gets repaired because some computer or sensor failed. And often, these will break down," he says.

He splits his time between the family business, a manufacturer of laminates, and Coast Cycles, the bicycle company he founded. He also leads the design team for the brand's bicycles.

He adds: "Secondly, I love manual gearboxes. Automatic transmissions might be easy to use, but there's nothing quite like shifting the gear levers as you accelerate and executing the perfect heel-toe manoeuvre."

But only one of his three cars - the Defender - has a manual transmission. "The G-Class is available only as an automatic," he explains.

"As for the Porsche, I was looking for a manual version, but when I found out that a very well- maintained unit was up for sale, I bought it without any hesitation even though it was an automatic.

"For sure, a future project is to have it converted to the basic five-speed manual gearbox that was fitted on the 964 models."

If you assume that the car he drives the most often is the 911 - since it is the rarest and most sought-after of the three - you would be wrong. It is the Defender he uses for his daily commute.

"The G350 is used exclusively by my wife as she has to ferry our two kids, a three-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy, around. I pilot the 911 only on my days off when I don't need to lug my work stuff around," he says.

His wife Drusilla Tok, 30, is an accounts and administration manager.

Says Mr Tan: "The Defender is my workhorse and rightly so. There is ample room to lug three to four bicycles around, and its hardy interior means it will take dirt, mud and sand in its stride. Perfect for a Sunday ride with my buddies at the off-road trails."

•The writer is a regular contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Going for the basic'. Print Edition | Subscribe