Tag Archives: Road Rage

Boon Haw’s Tiger Balm Car

Aw Boon Haw was the founder of the Tiger Balm fortunes.  His splendid sports car is shown in Carveth Wells 1940 book North of Singapore. 75 years later it is on display in the Tiger Balm mansion Haw Par Villa in Singapore. Aw Boon Haw used to drive the car (a customised Humber) around Singapore, a tiger head on the radiator, fangs protruding, wire whiskers. Red bulbs were in the eyes, and the horn sounded like a tiger’s roar. Great publicity - way before Shell's  "tiger in your tank."

There is a story of a road rivalry between Boon Haw and Sultan Ibrahim of Johore. Sultan Ibrahim was a sportsman and hunter. The incident took place when the Sultan, enraged at being overtaken by Boon Haw in his famous Tiger Car. Sultan Ibrahim shot at the Tiger Car on Bukit Timah Road. It was considered lese-majesté to overtake royalty even on foreign roads*. Notwithstanding, the British colonial administration forbade the Sultan thereafter from visiting Singapore ever again except for purpose of going to and from the Singapore airport.

* This tradition of royal road rage still persists among plutocrats - for example Aristotle Onassis's biographer notes that he detested anyone who overtook his Porsche...