Petrolheads pay for a super car joyride
IT WAS his birthday earlier this month, and his girlfriend took the car buff to Suntec City.
They wandered around the place for two hours and he had reconciled himself to attending a baking class, which his girlfriend had suggested to him earlier.
Suddenly, Khoo Shi Jie's mood changed - he was given the keys to a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder for a joyride.
The 24-year-old is a fan of super cars and Formula One races and his girlfriend, Rolinda Chan, 23, had paid $298 for his moment in the fast lane.
An instructor gave him a quick briefing on the car, before Mr Khoo took the wheel for a 15-minute drive along the Marina Bay street circuit with the instructor. The couple had time to pose for photos with the car.
"The sound and speed of the vehicle were amazing," said the SAF regular.
He is part of a growing group of young Singaporeans taking joyrides in super cars for a fee.
Super-car rental company Dream Drive said it has been getting "a couple of hundred" of customers a month since it opened in April.
Many are young adults who are driving super cars for the first time. They get to try out a car that would otherwise cost over $1 million to buy, said general manager Marilyn Teo.
The company was started by automotive businessman Shawn Low, 33, who suffered a brain cancer relapse last year, not long after he purchased his first Lamborghini.
Unable to drive it, he launched Dream Drive this year to offer the super-car experience to others. Mr Low's health is now better.
In addition to the Lamborghini, Dream Drive offers rides in a Maserati GranTurismo and an Audi R8.
A one-hour ride in the Lamborghini costs $788, while it costs $708 and $738 in the Maserati and Audi, respectively.
Another rental company, Ultimate Drive, has been providing similar joyrides for the past four years, with models like Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and Ferrari F430 F1 Spider.
Both companies charge similar rates and their souvenir sales add to their kitty.
For example, each joyride includes a dual-view recording of the driver and the road, which customers have the option to buy. Both companies sell these for $58 and many snap them up.
It is not just the speed junkies who are hooked. The super cars have become a big draw at corporate events and many companies hire them for photo shoots. The rides are also offered as lucky-draw prizes.
However, not all car fans feel that the drive is worth the price.
Leon Yeo, 22, who drives a modified Volkswagen Golf and goes for track days at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, said that such rides would not last as a long-term hobby.
"I do enjoy super cars but I'm more excited about other well-built cars that can perform close to a super car and cost just a fraction of its price," he said.
However, others like Mr Khoo are already planning their next joyride. "I think young people will work to earn more money just to enjoy the rides," he said.