Me And My Car

Love and fresh air

Mr Trevor Teo proposed to his fiancee while she was seated in the Mazda MX-5.
Mr Trevor Teo proposed to his fiancee while she was seated in the Mazda MX-5.PHOTOS: KONG YONGYAO

Trevor Teo waxes lyrical about his Mazda MX-5, a convertible in which he had his first date with his fiancee

It was a damp evening in the middle of last month's monsoon season when I went for a ride in Mr Trevor Teo's white NB Mazda MX-5, roof fixed firmly in place.

The 25-year-old finance assistant has coveted the car since his elder sister, a doctor, bought it in 2010 with a renewed certificate of entitlement (COE).

The model code NB refers to the second generation of the MX-5, which was launched in 1998.

Mr Teo says: "I had my own Mitsubishi Lancer then, but 70 to 80 per cent of the time when I needed to go somewhere, I would borrow her MX-5."

Then, in November, his sister bought a Mercedes-Benz A180 and exchanged the MX-5 for the Lancer, which was traded-in for the Mercedes.

  • What's in the boot?

  • •liquid wax

    •paste wax

    •polish

    •car shampoo

This was despite the Mitsubishi nearing expiry of its COE and being of far less value.

"She has always been generous with me," Mr Teo says. "She would buy me gifts whenever she gets her bonuses. When I was in university, she bought me a laptop."

The MX-5 was involved in an accident in 2013, but Mr Teo says that was not why his sister gave it up.

"She has never truly loved the MX-5," he says. "She thinks it is too low and slow.

"I disagree. It is a great sports car for Singapore. It is not a very powerful car, so you can enjoy the drive without having to abuse it. You just need a few curves, a cool night and you can have a fantastic time."

He adds that the rear end of the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car tends to "kick out" - losing its grip momentarily - when the road gets wet.

"I do not do that on purpose though. It's dangerous," he says with a grin.

He is not the only one who appreciates the car's charms. "It is a head-turner. Often, children will wave at me as I drive past. I've even had tourists take photos with it," he says.

Mechanically, the car has lived up to its Japanese bulletproof reputation.

"Nothing major has gone wrong or needed to be replaced except for wear-and-tear parts such as the brakes," Mr Teo says. "The soft top also needed to be replaced for about $2,000 last year, as it was beginning to fray around the edges."

The car is unmodified except for a body kit and the front fenders and bumper, which had to be changed because of the 2013 crash.

Replacement parts from a similar generation MX-5 were unavailable and, hence, items from an RX-8, modified to fit the MX-5's mounts, were used. The car was also repainted from its original orange colour.

Mr Teo has had many wonderful memories with the car, in particular with his fiancee.

"We had our first date in 2012 at VivoCity before driving to Labrador Park and Mount Faber," he says.

He proposed last year. "I parked at Mount Faber, walked around to the passenger side where she remained seated, opened the door, knelt and retrieved the ring from the glove compartment."

He may not have much longer to enjoy his car, though. "Come 2020, when I will likely have a family, it is probably going to be 'bye-bye MX-5,'" he says.

Even so, he hopes to buy another one in the future.

"I have always wanted an NA MX-5 though," he adds, referring to the first-generation model with pop-up headlights.

•The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2017, with the headline 'Love and fresh air'. Print Edition | Subscribe