Me and my car: 28-year-old loves his BMW of 22 years

Mr Joseph Goh and his 22-year-old BMW 316i Compact, which he says he enjoys driving more than his parents' two BMWs at home. He estimates he may have spent about $20,000 over the past eight years to keep it running well.
Mr Joseph Goh and his 22-year-old BMW 316i Compact, which he says he enjoys driving more than his parents' two BMWs at home. He estimates he may have spent about $20,000 over the past eight years to keep it running well.PHOTO: LIONEL SEAH
Mr Joseph Goh and his 22-year-old BMW 316i Compact, which he says he enjoys driving more than his parents' two BMWs at home. He estimates he may have spent about $20,000 over the past eight years to keep it running well.
What’s in the boot? • An umbrellaPHOTO: LIONEL SEAH

Financial adviser Joseph Goh's BMW 316i Compact is into its third COE and still cruising along

The BMW 316i Compact has never been popular here, but that also makes it a rather rare car.

The one Mr Joseph Goh owns is 22 years old, a manual and breaks down every now and then.

But the 28-year-old financial adviser loves it - most of the time, anyway. In fact, he says he enjoys driving it more than the other two BMWs at home - his mother's 318i sedan and his dad's Z3 roadster.

"Perhaps because it is a manual, whereas the other two cars are automatic," he says.

He bought the Compact - targeted at first-time BMW buyers when it was introduced in the 1990s - in 2011, when he was serving national service. With his dad's help, he paid $40,000 for the single-owner second-hand car.

The 1997 three-door hatchback had less than 60,000km on its odometer when he bought it - relatively low for a car its age. To date, it has clocked some 160,000km.

Mr Goh estimates he may have spent about $20,000 over the past eight years to keep it running well.

Still, this works out to less than the depreciation amount for a new car. Plus, the Compact's road tax remains an affordable $1,114 per year.

Still, the old car comes with a downside. "I can't even begin to count all the times the car has broken down on me," Mr Goh says.

"You also have to be prepared to spend time sourcing for replacement parts."

BMW ceased producing the Compact after 2004, so spare parts are not readily available. In Singapore, there are fewer than a handful left on the roads.

In early 2017, the driveshaft gave way, resulting in Mr Goh's car being laid up for almost a month.

The mechanic said "it was not worth repairing and I was on the verge of 'retiring' it", he says.

"Luckily, the workshop finally managed to find a replacement part and got it fixed cheaply for just $200."

The car's redeeming factors?

Mr Goh says the car's boot is "amazingly big" and the back seats can be flipped down to free up more space. The fuel consumption is "a reasonable 9km per litre", he adds.

He points out that the car is already into its third 10-year certificate of entitlement cycle and he intends "to keep it for as long as possible".

Asked if he has any dream cars, Mr Goh says: "There are many cars that look great. But they typically cost an arm and a leg. Perhaps when I reach a stage in life when I can well afford such cars, I would rather drive something more practical."

He reveals that his father, a BMW fan and also a financial adviser, influenced his car choice.

"I personally don't have any brand affinity," he says. "To me, the car is just a convenient means of transport."

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2019, with the headline 'Me And My Car: Old-school Compact'. Print Edition | Subscribe