Me And My Car

Rental car boss Mark Poh has eyes only for his 1972 Toyota Crown Coupe and other classic cars

Mr Mark Poh's 1972 Toyota Crown Coupe is registered under the Classic Vehicle Scheme and can be driven only 28 days a year.
Mr Mark Poh's 1972 Toyota Crown Coupe is registered under the Classic Vehicle Scheme and can be driven only 28 days a year.PHOTO: TONY TAN
Mr Mark Poh's 1972 Toyota Crown Coupe is registered under the Classic Vehicle Scheme and can be driven only 28 days a year.
What's in the boot?PHOTO: TONY TAN

Rental car company boss Mark Poh loves only classic cars

Like many men, Mr Mark Poh loves cars. But unlike most of his peers, the 35-year-old owner of a rental car company does not fancy modern rides.

He prefers classic cars and he has a rare one - a white 1972 Toyota Crown Coupe, powered by a 2-litre engine with a three-speed automatic transmission.

He says: "I believe mine is the only one left in Singapore, but I cannot confirm this."

His love of older cars started when he began his university studies in Australia in 2003. "I wanted a large car with an equally large engine and I saw a 1979 Chrysler Valiant for sale at just A$1,000. I bought it that same day," he recounts.

However, he had to sell the car, reluctantly though, after just 11/2 years as his parents felt that the Valiant "wasn't safe". They bought him a new Subaru Liberty.

When Mr Poh returned from Australia in 2006, he did not look for a car to buy as he could use the family's Mazda 6 saloon.

Three years later, his brother alerted him to an advertisement on online car portal sgCarMart. A 1983 Toyota AE86, a rear-wheel-drive two-door, had been put up for sale.

"I contacted the owner to arrange for a viewing and bought the car on the spot," Mr Poh says. "It was an iconic car. I loved its shape and its reputation as one of the best rear-wheel-drive coupes in its day."

He owned it for two years before selling it. "Unfortunately, the car was also popular with the LTA (Land Transport Authority) enforcement officers. It had an aftermarket exhaust which wasn't legal, and I was caught with it twice in six months - by the same officer," he says.

But soon after he sold the car, he spotted a Toyota Crown Coupe, owned by a man who ran a motor workshop across the road from his rental showroom.

Mr Poh contacted him immediately and, to his delight, found that the car was for sale.

"I wanted it so badly that I didn't even test-drive it," he says. "I paid about $25,000 and was prepared to spend a lot more if the car had serious issues. Thankfully, it was in very good condition."

He says it had an "old Japanese car smell", which was unique because no other type of car had it and which he finds "quite pleasing".

The Crown Coupe is registered under the Classic Vehicle Scheme and can be driven only 28 days a year. "I drive it around only 10 days a year. Honestly, it doesn't handle very well," Mr Poh says.

Despite being stationary most of the time, it attracts plenty of attention. "People often enter my showroom to view and touch the car, and take photos of it without asking for permission," he says.

"In fact, it has happened so often that I now park it further inside so that it is partially hidden from prying eyes."

Mr Poh says he loves the car and has no plans to sell it. Sometimes, he would drive it to car enthusiast gatherings.

"It's so that I can show it to other like-minded people and chat with them about classic cars."

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

What's in the boot?

Mr Mark Poh's 1972 Toyota Crown Coupe is registered under the Classic Vehicle Scheme and can be driven only 28 days a year.
PHOTO: TONY TAN

• An emergency power pack

• Spare parts

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'Young man, old soul'. Print Edition | Subscribe