Edric explores the different ways that some people are obsessive-compulsive about their cars.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Edric explores the different ways that some people are obsessive-compulsive about their cars.
My Reading Room

FRIENDS politely hide their horror when I tell them I only wash my car about once a month. And even that statement needs qualification – “wash” doesn’t mean I roll up my sleeves and get the pail and sponge out; it means I head for my nearest petrol station car wash and hand over eight bucks, plus tip if the uncle does a half-decent job. 

I’m not too fussed about dings or minor blemishes, either – when the car accumulates enough of these, I’ll usually send it in for a general bodywork touch-up. 

So I don’t “get” the detailing enthusiasts who spend more time cleaning and polishing their cars than driving them, who want to comb their hair in their paintwork’s reflection, and who endlessly obsess over the slightest smear, scratch or ding to afflict their beloved ride. I even know a guy who’ll leave his car at home and take the train if it’s raining. 

Yes, in Singapore the car probably represents a fair proportion of one’s net worth, so I can see why it’s so treasured. But at the same time, precisely because we’re paying so much, shouldn’t the car be the owner’s slave, and not the other way around? 

Treating the car as an objet d’art just doesn’t work here, if you intend to actually use it as a means of transport. Because no matter how exquisitely polished, waxed and buffed your car is, the moment it emerges from your (presumably covered) garage, it’s at the mercy of road grime, pooping birds, tree sap and parking dings. 

And the occasional feckless Uber driver wandering into your lane in his Attrage as he’s fiddling with his dashboard-mounted phablet. 

But then again, I am obsessive about my car in my own way – I’m ridiculously OCD about clutter. 

No loose tissue boxes on the rear parcel shelf, no windscreen- mounted mobile phone suction clamps or sat-nav devices impeding my view of the road, no handsfree- device wires dangling off the rear view mirror. Used parking coupons aren’t even allowed to accumulate in the doorbins. 

My boot is an empty cavern, if only because I can’t stand loose items clattering around at every keenly taken corner. The only umbrella in the car is a compact, telescopic type which fits snugly (and out of sight) in the glovebox. 

And naturally, anyone caught eating in the car will be subject to a slow, painful death. 

So, while I don’t necessarily agree with the chaps who spend every weekend waxing and then Instagramming their cars, I can understand. Because we enthusiasts are all loony about our cars in our own little way.