Accidental aficionado

Mr Louis Soon considers his 1973 BMW 2002 a worthwhile investment.
Mr Louis Soon considers his 1973 BMW 2002 a worthwhile investment.PHOTOS: TONY TAN

An E30 BMW 316i which Louis Soon chanced upon while shopping for a Mercedes-Benz sparked his love of the German marque

For more than a decade, Mr Louis Soon has been a BMW fan.

Ironically, it was during a search for a Mercedes-Benz car 15 years ago that the 38-year-old Web and apps designer fell in love with the German marque.

"I have always liked Alfa Romeo because a tuned Alfetta was the first car I remember my family had," Mr Soon says.

"But my dad was more of a Mercedes-Benz guy, so when we needed to replace our family car, a Kia Sportage, we zeroed in on the 190E saloon."

During the search for a suitable 190E in 2004, father and son came across a small, light-blue BMW at the back of a used-car dealership in Ubi.

"I saw the four-door E30 BMW 316i and liked it instantly," Mr Soon recalls.

The car was 13 years old then, but was "in pretty good condition" and its annual depreciation was only about $4,000.

  • What's in the boot?

  • • Rattan basket containing car-grooming kit

    • Spare parts (Mr Soon is in the process of refurbishing the undercarriage)

"So, a deal was struck and we bought it," says Mr Soon. "It was fun - its steering was light, but loaded up nicely when cornering and it handled well."

With the car, he became acquainted with BMW fans here and abroad. It was not long before he "became fond of the brand", he says.

Then came another chance meeting, this time with his current ride - a 1973 BMW 2002.

The 2-litre coupe was part of the iconic and sought-after 02 Series made from 1966 to 1977.

It was in 2012 and the car was "at the back of an acquaintance's house... covered in cobwebs and had a strong musky smell inside".

It was for sale, but he did not buy it because he did not have the means to restore it then.

Two years later, he chanced upon the car again - this time on sgCarMart, a vehicle-trading portal owned by Singapore Press Holdings.

Again, he did not buy it.

Then, early this year, Mr Soon discovered that a friend had bought the car. He had refurbished and resprayed the car, but there was "still quite a fair bit of work to be done to the undercarriage".

The friend wanted to sell it and Mr Soon succumbed this time.

He forked out $60,000 for the Classic plated-car (with COE valid till 2029), which he says "was still a stretch for me".

But it has been a worthwhile investment. Mr Soon says he has been relishing every journey in his BMW 2002, even though it is the base variant with a single carburettor 2-litre engine with 101hp.

"Most of the 'horses' have probably run away, so I am sure I won't get a speeding ticket," he says.

"But it is fun to drive. Sometimes, when I look at my 2002, I still cannot believe it's mine."

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2019, with the headline 'Accidental aficionado'. Print Edition | Subscribe