PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 2007, 12:00am

The Hong Kong-Beijing Rally 2007 is now more affordable for Hong Kong participants.

'Thanks to sponsorship from Stradego of Germany, the entry fee has been reduced from HK$140,000 to HK$85,000 for Hong Kong entrants only,' says Andrew Windebank, chief executive of co-organiser the Hong Kong Automobile Association.

The March 25-April 8 event's entry deadline is today. The association says, so far, there are five participants from Hong Kong, nine from the US, three from Britain, two from Switzerland, and one each from the mainland, Germany, Italy and New Zealand.

The vehicles entered include a 1946 Buick Roadster, a 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280SL, a Honda 350cc motorcycle, a Jaguar

E-Type, a Red Flag limousine, a Ferrari 365, an MGB and several Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. For further information, telephone Vivian Au on 2739 5273, e-mail, or

Lexus dealer Crown Motors (tel: 2511 9430) has a romantic tip for Wednesday night. 'The Lexus IS250 could be the ultimate token of love to make this Valentine's Day unforgettably happy,' says the dealer's spokeswoman, Yvonne Lee. 'Its 2.5-litre D4 fuel injection V6 engine, with 208 horsepower, delivers a satisfyingly responsive performance.'

These aren't sweet nothings. The IS250 (below) is a beautifully finished ride. The Deluxe version costs HK$399,840 and you can slap on an Aero kit option with front and rear bumpers and skirts for HK$25,800, including labour and, if you can't wait, HK$16,800 for first registration tax.

The Peninsula's 14 new Rolls-Royce Phantoms could give car lovers plenty to talk about on Wednesday. The hotel (tel: 2732 2933) doesn't offer any Valentine's Day drive deals, but you can have a Rolls-Royce, chauffeur and butler on call round the clock if you book a suite, from HK$32,000 to more than HK$42,000 a night.

The Brewster Green Phantoms (right) press all the right buttons for a romantic waft. According to the marque's Pinnacle magazine, Sir Michael Kadoorie and the hotel's fleet manager, Michael Oxley, 'spent two hours in a demonstrator Phantom in the hotel's darkened garage' and asked Rolls-Royce to make four changes to the standard limousine for Hong Kong use:

A hill-hold function activated by a button on the steering wheel;

Moving the individual climate controls from the centre console to the rear doors;

Relocating the battery and suspension air-spring compressor to allow the boot to hold four large suitcases;

Switch illumination in the rear.

We wouldn't be surprised if Kadoorie's custom touches become standard on future export Phantoms. They should make your romantic drive more comfortable.

Finally, please mind the doors on your romantic spin. We've heard of too many dresses being slammed in grimy doors and sills in the rush to get home after a Valentine's dinner. This can happen to anyone, so we recommend you give all slammable surfaces a good wash, if only to keep your dry-cleaning bill down.

Static electricity might also cause more spark than you need on your date. So, do warn passengers to touch the glass or to tap the door with their least zap-sensitive knuckle as they exit to discharge any electricity. We hear static can even cause explosions in petrol stations, so don't re-enter your car while you're filling up. May your heart go boom on Wednesday. Not your car.