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Motoring

Til death do us part: Hong Kong car enthusiast says his classic VW Beetle is like an old friend

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 7:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 7:20pm

Car sales warranty supervisor Andrew Ng, 52, says his 1972 Volkswagen Beetle 1303 is like an old friend, and he will keep it as long as he lives

“I fell in love with Beetles when I was a child. My father used to have a 1964 Beetle in same colour in the late 1960s. The Disney movie about Herbie, The Love Bug, also encouraged my fascination for the Beetle.

The car I have now was parked very close to where I lived and I saw it every day when I was a kid. It was sold by the first owner to my friend and he held on to it for me for a year in Hong Kong. I’ve never given the car a name, like some owners do, but I guess my wife thinks of it as my second wife.

My taste in cars has changed a little as I’ve got older, but I like both my Bug and my daily car, which is a Volkswagen Golf GTI Mark VI, so you can say I’m loyal to the VW brand. Volkswagen’s emissions scandal didn’t worry me as there were no safety issues. Software gets bugs all the time, no matter how advanced technology becomes. I still like the brand

I only drive my Bug at the weekend or when there is a Classic Car Club of Hong Kong event.

I joined the club in 1988, and I’ve had a Beetle since; this is my third. I won’t use it as a daily car because it has no air con, and it’s no fun sweltering in a traffic jam. I like taking the Bug into the countryside, where there is less traffic and more fresh air. It’s a lovely drive out of town.

I’ve not upgraded or customised the car because I try to keep it in its original condition, and the paint is still the same as it was when it came out of the factory.

Some classic car owners have niggles about their cars but I’ve no complaints about mine; it’s just that I don’t like to take the Bug out when it is too rainy or hot.

I won’t use it as a daily car because it has no air con, and it’s no fun sweltering in a traffic jam

I am also involved in the keeping my friend’s old British Mini Cooper roadworthy, but I only drive it to [Classic Car Club] events, and I still love my Bug. The Beetle is like a friend because it enables me to meet new people, see new things and travel to new places. I will keep it as long as I live.

I like joining Classic Car Club events, where I can share my experiences with fellow members, because owning an old car in Hong Kong is not easy. It costs more to maintain and it can be difficult to find parts and a garage to service them. Today, cars are replaced with newer models at a faster rate than in the past. It seems as if we won’t be seeing so many old cars and classics running around.

That is why I help preserve Hong Kong’s motoring heritage by keeping pictures of old street scenes and cars here. Most of these images come from news stories and advertisements in old newspapers and magazines, and will be shown at an exhibition called ‘Cars and Lifestyles in Hong Kong in the Twentieth Century’. It’s curated by Wedin Lai and Jack Lee, and at the JCCAC gallery, in Shek Kip Mei, until May 22.

What’s trending in the local car world? Well, I think electric cars are a hot topic in Hong Kong right now because the government is promoting them. I won’t get one because there are still not enough charging stations for them here. Hong Kong is a small place for driving and there are not many places where you can park in the city [for charging electric cars].

Meanwhile though, local fuel prices did not fall, even though world oil prices dropped really low. Fortunately, the government did not raise the annual car licence fee, although it intended to do so.”

As told to William Wadsworth