Amanda Steckler is on the scent of what the best marques have to offer.
At twilight, the familiar growl of a V8 powerplant fills the air. Within seconds, the sleek, aggressive lines of its host, the Maserati GranCabrio, appears. Quite the automotive beast, this Italian supercar can go from zero to 100kph in five seconds and reach a top speed of 300kph.
Super comfortable behind the wheel is Amanda Steckler. She reins in the muscles of 444 horses under the hood with ease and grace. Decked in a Hermes top and slacks with a Richard Mille RM 07-01 on her wrist, she’s a picture of elegance. Not so much her Maserati, though. Cars like this are usually associated with guys thirsty for a pedal-to-the-floor adrenaline rush.
Steckler, who grew up in Kampung Sembawang, contradicts this convention and with a hearty laugh says, “I am an unusual woman.” Then the entrepreneur and real estate investor lets on that she has a stable of sports and supercars – seven in her second home in Palo Alto, California, and six here.
Among her pedigrees are the McLaren 720S Spider, Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition (one of 100 in the world), Aston Martin DB11, Telsa Models X and S, and a Mercedes-Benz GLS 400.
Midway through the conversation, the bubbly 48-year-old pauses and says: “Wait, I have two more McLarens!” Missing from her initial list are the limited-production Senna and 12C Spider in Palo Alto. Steckler, who also owns multiple properties around the world, tells The Peak the GranCabrio is a workhorse she uses to ferry her kids to school and take the family out to eat. She and husband Vince have five children aged 12 to 28. They moved back to Singapore two years ago because the mounting personal taxes in California no longer made sense.
“Here, the GranCabrio makes more sense to drive because not only does it allow me to take my kids to school, but I can also drive my ageing parents wherever they want to go,” she adds. “They are the other reason am back here. I want to spend more time with them. And you know what? While doing all this, I still get the sense that I am driving a sports car because the Maserati engine has a sound no other supercar can match.”
Home has also made Steckler realise how much she misses her Singapore friends and local food. This passion for Asian fare has led her to acquire a franchise from Killiney Kopitiam. She now has an outlet at Camden Medical that opened in September last year and has a licence to operate another in Palo Alto. She also has a 50 per cent stake in restaurant Table at 7 in Namly Avenue.
An accomplished weekend athlete, who has run three full and nine half marathons overseas and in Singapore, her days are filled with family and two dogs, a Hungarian Puli and a Miniature Husky, and typically begin with a run, usually at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, with one of her pets that rides in her one of her cars.
“I love them all and drive a different one every time I get out of the home, even if it is just for a fiveminute drive to the grocery store,” she quips.
“I LIKE THE 720S BECAUSE IT IS BUILT AROUND THE DRIVER, IS CONNECTED TO THE ROAD AND, ALTHOUGH THE CHASSIS IS LOW, DOESN’T HAVE ANY PROBLEMS GOING OVER HUMPS.”
EYES ON EXCELLENCE
In their search for something extremely radical, Bryan Chin and his dad give the thumbs up to the McLaren 720S. If looks could kill, the McLaren 720S comes close. Its presence can be as intimidating to other road users as the great white shark is to people. And, if there is a resemblance in the eyes and the front lamps, it is no coincidence. The fearsome shark inspired the supercar’s design.
However, it wasn’t just the appearance that has it jostling for pole position as the best-performing supercar. This McLaren has the muscles to match: a century sprint of 2.9 seconds, a maximum 710bhp and a top speed of 341kph.
The owner of the first 720S to hit Singapore’s roads is quite unlike the brute in his possession. Bryan Chin, a vice president with Covenant Capital, is congenial, charming to a fault and a private person.
If not for his dad Lawrence, executive VP and relationship manager at the same company, the 32-year-old says he would not have taken delivery of the car in late 2017, just after its global launch. He was doing fine with his everyday BMW X1 and felt that a supercar was not befitting of his position in life then. But his dad had other ideas. Fond of supercars, he convinced his son to get the 720S together.
“Dad has always been a Porsche guy. He used to drive the 911 Turbo, and currently has the Macan GTS,” says Chin. “We talk about cars all the time. In early 2017, he was thinking about getting something radically different from the Porsches. We initially had our eye on the McLaren 570S and then heard the 720S would be launching soon and decided to hang on.”
The wait proved fortuitous because they received the first 720S in Singapore. Both father and son have since taken it through its paces at the Sepang International Circuit in Selangor, Malaysia, where, Chin says, it reached a top speed of 300kph on the straights.
“We go up to Sepang with at least 10 other McLaren owners. If Dad is busy, I go there without him,” adds Chin. “I like the 720S because it is built around the driver, is more connected to the road and, although the chassis is low, doesn’t have any problems going over humps.”
In Singapore, he drives the car more than anyone else in the family at weekends. His mum drives a Porsche Cayenne while his three sisters have no interest in cars.
“Dad and I are the only car buffs,” says Chin. “I don’t drive the 720S on weekdays because I don’t want to have to worry about where to leave the car attended for an extended period of time.”
With both men toying with the idea of an upgrade, especially with the likes of McLaren continuously pushing the envelope, Chin is all the more driven to build a successful career that allows him to indulge a growing love for exotic sports cars.
“We have been looking at the 765LT that is supposed to launch next year,” he reveals. “It will be more expensive but looks similar to what we have right now. So, we’ll just wait and see what happens.”
“I ENJOY SUPERCARS AND WANTED MY FAMILY TO EXPERIENCE THIS WITH ME. WHAT I PARTICULARLY LIKE IS THE SOUND OF THE URUS ENGINE. ”
BITTEN BY THE SPEED BUG
Fanty’s surprising thirst for speed lures her to a Lamborghini for four.
Fanty Soenardy is a permanent fixture on the VIP lists of some of the world’s leading fashion houses. The youthful 47-year-old is quite the trendsetter, with her global sartorial exploits well documented in the pages of multiple luxury titles.
What is little known, however, is that she took a little trip down a back road about four years ago that launched her on a journey of an entirely different sort. At the urging of friends, she test-drove a supercar around the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia and was instantly bitten by the speed bug.
Her epic journey on the fast lane led Soenardy to take delivery of a Lamborghini Urus in December last year. Packing a 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that can deliver 641bhp, this SUV has the power to drive its occupants to a different dimension.
“I enjoy supercars and wanted my family to experience this with me,” says the mother of two. “The Urus has all the trappings of the type of car that I love to drive.”
It is her second purebred speed pedigree. The first is a pre-owned Ferrari 458 husband and property developer Daniel Ong gave her as a birthday gift not long after her Sepang test drive in a supercar.
“He was initially uncomfortable that I wanted a very fast car and tried convincing me to opt for something else,” says Soenardy. “He doesn’t drive such cars and it took my friends who own supercars to assure him that it was reliable before he relented. Now, he likes the car, too, and drives it every now and then.” Soenardy admits to being partial to Ferrari but says Lamborghini is on par with it. No other sports car maker, she claims, offers a four-seater with all the key characteristics of a topnotch supercar like the Urus.
“What I particularly like is the sound of its engine,” she adds. “It is more refined. Daniel has become a Lamborghini fan and it was he who chose the Urus.”
While the Urus is for family trips, Soenardy prefers a two-seater for her speed fix. She has been honing her driving skills with her Ferrari and is now ready for the even faster and more powerful new F8 that she has ordered and is set for delivery at the end of the year. With that, she will have three supercars in her possession.
Surprisingly, despite keeping tabs on the supercar industry and taking note of new models from every marque, she doesn’t see herself as a petrolhead.
“Just as with Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Van Cleef & Arpels, I take a good look at their new collections, see whether they meet my expectations and then decide if I should add any to my collection.”
“I AM A BELIEVER IN STRONG BRANDS AND FERRARI IS ONE OF THEM. THE PEOPLE BEHIND IT ENSURE IT WILL ALWAYS BE TOPNOTCH, EVEN IF PRE-OWNED.”
PLOTTING FOR A FERRARI
One banker’s relentless 23-year ride to achieve his lifelong Prancing Horse dream.
His cheeky grin and a taper fade high above the hairline on his boyish face suggests Kenneth Yeo is up to mischief. Leaning against a black sports car while twiddling the cuff of his Giorgio Armani ensemble, he unwittingly enforces this notion: appearances can be misleading.
Looks aside, Yeo exudes a sense of achievement more than 20 years in the making. The sleek-looking gem behind the 42-year-old is the 2013 Ferrari California he acquired last year for S$380,000. The car was a fulfilment of a dream that began in 1996 when he dared an AngloChinese Junior College schoolmate to have her father fetch her from school in his Ferrari F40, then the Italian automaker’s fastest and most expensive supercar in its stable.
“When her dad was about 100m away from us, everyone in school stood still at the sight of the car and roar of its engine,” recalls Yeo. “It was something to behold – and that was when the Ferrari lovebug bit me.”
Owning a supercar was his dream from then on, although he knew very well that the road to realising it was paved with sheer hard work.
After National Service, he jetted off to the University of New South Wales in Sydney to major in geotechnical engineering. His goal was to establish a career in oil and gas because that was where the money was, and Australia was in short supply of such industry professionals. However, his parents urged their only child to return home after graduation in 2002.
“My parents presented me with a BMW 318 Coupe as a graduation gift after I came home,” says Yeo. “It was a nice sporty car, but my dream was still a Ferrari. I just couldn’t afford one then.”
Yeo soon discovered engineers were highly sought after by the banking sector for their analytical skills. He took a leap of faith with a local private bank in 2003 and hit pay dirt.
Six years on and with a different institution as director, head of private banking sales, Yeo was at a crossroads. Ferrari had rolled out the 458, but he felt it was too ostentatious so early in his career.
After a BMW, a Mercedes-Benz and a Maserati, he gave in to the Ferrari itch in 2019. By then, the issue was no longer about whether he could afford the Ferrari California. He had to first sell the idea to his family.
“I eyed a pre-owned California because it was a more conventional car and two people could sit in the back,” said the father of a nine-yearold daughter and a son, who’s 6. “I took them to Ital Auto and told them we could still drive around as a family in this Ferrari.”
But why pre-owned instead of new? “I am a believer in strong brands and Ferrari is one of them. The people behind it ensure it will always be top-notch, even if preowned. Also, as an engineer, I like to do the numbers. Before investing in a new one, I needed to know what owning one entailed. I will know after a few years of driving the California.”
Yeo has three years more with his Ferrari before he has to decide whether he wants to extend its COE or move on to the next car. “For now, I am enjoying what I have,” he says. “However, I do like the Ferrari Roma and I will think about it when the time comes.”
TEXT IAN DE COTTA PHOTOS MARCUS LIN GROOMING ANGEL GWEE