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The Modified Car Scene in Singapore
Introduction to the modified car scene
There are crazy car mods all over the world, but did you know there are a whole bunch of crazies just here in Singapore? Given Singapore’s famously high prices of buying and owning a vehicle, it is surprising that the island’s car culture is growing and thriving.
The small size of the island means all car enthusiasts have to go head to head in the local car scene and as such, it is wild. Due to the competition, it is truly a jungle out there, with spectacular beasts and roaring engines. Car lovers and modifiers have navigated around the high costs of cars and tough regulations to create some of the most exciting vehicles in the world.
What’s on the road?
The modified cars you see on Singapore roads can range from common cars, such as a Honda Jazz or Honda Accord all the way to exotic supercars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris.
Japanese Domestic Market, otherwise known as JDM cars, have always been an iconic breed of vehicle to customise and modify. Imported from Japan, these vehicles are traditionally on the cheaper side and have an abundance of parts.. JDM cars include the likes of Nissan Skylines, Honda Civics and Subaru WRXs.
- Mitsubishi Evo X and the Subaru Impreza WRX
- Toyota Supra A90
- Honda Civic
- Nissan GT-R
Another popular breed of cars are the European Domestic Market, or EDM cars. Although not as popular as JDM vehicles, they have a large following all over the world and in Singapore. This breed of vehicle includes the BMW M3 and Volkswagen Golf.
- Lexus I200
- Mercedes Benz C63 AMG
Over the last decade, super-luxury cars have been more and more popular on Singapore roads. Whilst cars in Singapore are typically expensive in comparison to the rest of the world, these supercars are a level beyond that. Despite this, sales of Bentleys in Singapore have increased by over four times since 2008, whilst Lamborghinis and Ferraris have increased two to three times.
- Lamborghini Aventador
Photo by Sourav Mishra from Pexels
Where can I go sightseeing for cool cars?
The modification scene in Singapore has been growing exponentially in the past few years and you'll be able to find some of the coolest cars on the island with just a little bit of digging. If you’re on the hunt for the craziest cars in Singapore, here are our picks of places you’re bound to spot some.
To get a glimpse at the exotic European supercars, including the likes of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and many more, head over to Sentosa Cove and Millenia Walk.
These areas are known for the density of big name supercars that stroll around the area. Not only do these cars boast an incredibly high price tag (even for Singapore standards), they are also extremely rare anywhere in the world. Although many of these supercars are untouched and not modified, they are still a sight to behold and perfect places for car enthusiasts to do some sight seeing.
Car enthusiasts in Singapore are known to ride together in tight knit groups, making it uncommon to see supercar enthusiasts driving around with JDM enthusiasts and vice versa. As such, Sentosa Cove and Millenia Walk aren’t the greatest places to go if you’re seeking common cars that have been modified.
Due to the low density of car owners in Singapore, seeing large amounts of modified cars concentrated in one area is quite rare. However, your best chance at running into modified cars is during car meet ups, where owners of modified cars come together to socialise. These are normally conducted in and around parking lots and secluded areas so that disturbance to the public is kept to a minimum.
If you are on the hunt though, these are the known car enthusiast hotspots:
- Yishun Dam
- Kallang car park, at Leisure Park
- Paya Ubi Industrial Park’s: In the various workshops as well as surrounding areas, along Ubi Avenue.
- Dempsey Hill
Car Meetups and Events
Another way to get a glimpse into the size of the car scene and cool cars in Singapore is to see for yourself. Although large car meetups and events have been far and few since the beginning of the pandemic, car events are a great way to see the community and crazy cars.
They act as a gateway for car enthusiasts to come together, showcase their cars and share their love and passion. It’s a spectacular way to experience the sense of community where car owners will appreciate and discuss their cars, along with the modifications they have done.
Car events are traditionally organised between owners within the community, especially for specific kinds of cars. This can range from owners of a specific make of car, like the Subaru WRX, to fans of car brands, like Honda, or fans of a particular breed of car, like JDM cars. These events are usually organised through social media and are generally open to the public.
There are larger events that are publicised and put together for the public throughout the course of the year. The biggest event in Singapore is the annual Singapore Motorshow Weekend.
How big is the car modification scene?
The motorised playground that is Singapore is witnessing an explosion in the number of individuals who choose to lifestyle their life around cars despite a small 11% of car ownership in the country. The car culture and modification scene is huge in Singapore and shows no signs of slowing down.
With the digital age among us, there has never been an easier way to connect and communicate with like minded people than through the internet.
Singaporean car enthusiasts boast a large community on social media, with hundreds of groups holding tens of thousands of fans dedicated to the love of cars.
What’s interesting to note about car culture in Singapore are the sub groups within the scene. The JDM scene in particular boasts thousands of followers across Facebook. Notably, the Honda brand is a popular one among car modifiers, with the most followers in total. Facebook group “Singapore Honda Vezel / HR-V Club” alone is home to over 13 thousand fans.
Car modifications in SIngapore are tightly regulated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). There are three types of car modifications that motorists and car enthusiasts must be aware of:
- Car modifications that are allowed
- Car modifications that must be approved
- Car modifications that are not allowed
These categories cover all forms of modifications or changes, including aesthetic features, performance upgrades or any other changes that could possibly alter the car’s functionality or safety.
Failure to comply with the modification guidelines set out by the LTA can result in fines of up to $5, 000, imprisonment of up to 3 months, or both. For repeat offenders, these penalties are doubled. This applies to any person, including workshops who illegally modify or use modified vehicles with prohibited or unapproved modifications.
When modifying your vehicle, you must also notify your insurer as any change (even approved changes) can impact the terms of your insurance. Insurers may be reluctant to insure vehicles with modifications, or may even decline to insure these vehicles at all.
It is important that you declare any modification or change you make, no matter how big or small. Traditionally, insurers are more concerned about modifications that may change how the vehicle performs on the road. This includes performance and functionality changes, such changes to the engine and exhaust.