Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Classic Drive: TD2000 Silverstone Mk2

Here is a lifestyle statement and an automotive status symbol of a different kind, both rolled into one retro classic package. It tells people that you have indeed arrived, since this would probably be a 3rd or even 4th car that you would drive, just for those special occasions or outings. It isn’t your usual three pointed star, blue propeller or quadruple-conjoined rings…

We are talking about a car based on MG-T series from the late 1940s-1950s, heck…from an era when I wasn’t even born yet! Built by Tdesire Sdn Bhd and named TD2000 Silverstone MkII, this topless retro –classic roadster strikes me as a misfit in our sea of ‘cocooned’, air-conditioned and windows-wound-up automobiles. Don’t get me wrong, the TD2000 has got an A/C but most of the time it isn’t very effective due to its topless, semi-topless and enclosed-but-leaky nature (to air turbulence that is!).

First impression as I took the TD2000 on to the highway was seeing how rushed our society has become. With the top down, you can hear all vehicles whisking by as if you’re standstill – I was actually leisurely doing strolling pace getting accustomed to the steering, brakes and mind-mapping the front and rear overhangs. It will be very charming for those Sunday drives, more so if you’re living in Awana Genting, Cameron Highlands or some other up-the-hills enclave with cool, crisp air - as I reckoned then. Reality was that I had this loaned tester during the year-end monsoon weather when it was either gloomy with rain clouds or started to drizzle. So, I had to admit that I had the roof up mostly, sans the window covers. When I had the roof down, it was like playing Russian roulette - driving on most occassions under grey cast sky!

Contributing to the old charm must be the intricately finished wooden steering by Moto Lita. The two-tone paint (cream + dark blue) helped further, as was the optional wires-spoked wheels. The seats are low slung, semi bucket items and your feet are deep into a narrow footwell. Cranking the ignition brings forth to life a Toyota 2.0L 4-pot sourced form an old Camry model, mated to a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Modern automobile convenience and reliability married to a classic design. In practice, 130bhp is a very decent amount of power to propel this 940kg vehicle. The TD2000 mostly felt sprightly on the go with perhaps just that occasional scuttle shake should you get too enthusiastic with your drive. Its rear live axle can be a little hopping experience, suspended on leaf springs but tracking of corners were taken pretty accurately. Steering of the TD2000 is non-powered assisted item which can be tad stiff for parallel parking. On the flipside, it was a boon to those higher cruising speed on motorways. Stopping power are assuring enough, afforded by all round discs, with the front pairs being crossed drilled items!

Retro-yet-elegant design and authentic classic looks may be the main reason hundreds of TD2000 have found homes. Stopping at traffic junctions most will stare in amazement and delight or could it be its rarity value? With an exhaust note that is rather throaty and more direct-feel steering and chassis versus the ‘insulated’ modern cars, the TD2000 is one roadster that has to be experienced to be appreciated. It takes about RM180k (depending on customisation level) to park one in your driveway, so owning one is definitely for the society’s elite and those with extra cash – and an additional parking lot - to spare.

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