Something that I have always loved however when visiting Singapore is the site of the Crown – and by that I mean the Toyota Crown Comfort taxi.
This to me symbolises Japanese order, sensibility and all that is proper and correct.
In terms of design, the majority will not rate it one bit – it does not have a single sleek line of say a Ferrari 599GTB, or a Maserati Gran Turismo, but there is something about the rigidity of the design that I think makes it an instant classic.
I have to admit, I used to hate Japanese cars – I thought that they were rubbish, and devoid of personality. But over the years, that viewpoint has changed dramatically, and more so I am a bigger fan of them than ever – not so much the modern stuff churned out now, but the classic boxy designs from 1980s up to the naughties……along with their wild and wonderful names.
So, getting back to the original topic, getting out of Changi airport, my face lit up seeing the Crown comfort again. It is not the most gracious of cars. Diesel/LPG engine, 5 speed manual and vinyl seats – sounds like something BL would have churned out in its heyday. However the space in the back is club like, and the boot carnivorous. It is a workhorse, and like James May’s soft spot for the Dacia Sandero, this one has the same effect. A good honest car, built to survive Asia and all that throws at it.
However, I read that Singapore has very tight laws on cars. In fact this is one of the most expensive countries in the worked to own a car. Example: A Skoda Fabia will cost around £12k in the UK, whereas in Singapore, this would retail in at around £38k – yes, that’s right, £38k……the government makes ownership very difficult, and with such a good infrastructure of public transport, owning a car seems pointless. Couple this with the fact that the life of a car there is only 10 years (cars have to be scrapped after this time as per the law), there are increasingly less and less Crown’s on the road…….which then asks the question, are we seeing the last few years of the Crown on Singaporean roads?
Possibly. Hyundai’s Sonata has now become a big favourite in terms of taxi saloon as well as the Toyota WISH. So, if these are fav’s with the taxi community, and probably so in terms of kit and cost, the Crown is becoming a more rare sight on the roads of Singapore. it is still being sold in Japan, and I don’t know if the same applies to Hong Kong where the car is greatly used, and was so when I was there in 2004.
So, I smile – I simply enjoyed each taxi journey I took in a Comfort, with the knowledge that should I return back to Asia and Singapore for another trip, I may never get to ride in one of those again.
The Crown is dead – long live the Crown!