THE 1.5 LITRE Toyota Vios which cost just $54,000 three years ago, was an economical choice for Dylan Yap.
But in the past two years, Yap spent more than $20,000 on upgrading his car.
Just how economical can that be?
Yap replied: "I didn't know that I've spent that much on modifying my car until now when you asked me about it.
"But with $74,000, I still can't buy a decent sports car."
|Under the bonnet
Transmission: Five-speed close ratio with 1.5 way clutch type
4.3 Final Drive
JUN Lighten Flywheel
SPEED-D Racing clutch and pressure plate
TRD quick shift
Cooling unit Billion Super-solid coolant line
TRD 71deg sport thermostat
TRD 1.3bar radiator cap
HKS Racing suction intake kit
Charge-speed bucket seat: $600
Electronic: Defi BF Tachometer
Blitz R-vit iColor
Power Enterprise Camcom-T
Exhaust system: HKS silent hi-power muffler
GT wing: $200
Toyota sport pedal: $99
Sabelt four-point harness $120
Other parts: Tanaba sustec lowering brace front and rear: $600
C-one front ARB: $700
Progress rear ARB: $250
SPEED-D front tie bar: $130
SPC front camber nut: $240
Rear camber disc: $300
Vertex deep dish steering: $450
TRD engine cap: $50
Skunk2 gear knot: $40
For now, the 29-year-old car enthusiast is happy with his modified Toyota Vios which he claims is able to tail higher performance cars like the Subaru WRX at the Pasir Gudang Racing Circuit in Johor.
With a horsepower of 133 hp, Yap takes just two minutes to complete one lap (3.86 km) at the Pasir Gudang circuit.
Yap, who goes tracking once a month, said: "On track, I can't beat a high-powered sports car, but I can tail it. I'm usually considered the underdog."
Yap was running a graphic and stage design business when he first bought his Toyota Vios.
And when he started modifying it, he saw a better business opportunity in the growing car modifications industry and decided to jump onto the bandwagon.
It was in 2006 that Yap set up Speed-D Performance, specialising in modifying Toyota cars.
"When I first bought my car, I didn't think much about modifications because it is expensive to modify your car in Singapore," Yap said.
"I've always been interested in cars and I often went onto car forums to learn more about cars.
"One day I came across a rare part to enhance my car's gearbox for better performance and saw the business opportunity to bring in such parts for Toyota cars."
Yap then gave up his one-year-old design firm to go into the car modification business. His Toyota Vios became his guinea pig.
From the car seat to the transmission to the suspension and exhaust, Yap would enhance, replace and modify any part of his car that he could, yet keep his modifications within the strict rules and regulations set down by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). There is a limit to what one can do to modify cars under LTA rules.
Yap said: "I am not rich but I am serious about cars."
He operates from a small car workshop at Ang Mo Kio Autopoint where, in the past one-and-a-half years, Yap has helped more than 300 car owners modify their cars.
He declined to reveal how much he earns monthly, but said that his new business venture has allowed him to travel to Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the US for trade and motor shows at least once a month.
His next car purchase would be a Honda Civic Type R.
"Because it is one of the best naturally-aspirated cars available now," Yap explained.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Nov 22, 2008.