Singapore Harbour Board vehicle licence

This is a vehicle licence for the ‘Hotel Runner No. 51’ issued by the Singapore Harbour Board.The first motorcar to be driven in Singapore was a second-hand Benz imported from Germany in 1896 by the Katz Brothers firm for a customer. This vehicle was later acquired by lawyer and amateur historian, Charles Burton Buckley, and nicknamed the ‘Coffee Machine’ due to its grinding, shaking and rattling movement. For the local Chinese, motorcars were viewed as strange Western contraptions and thus referred to as ‘devil wind carriages’. Despite such early misgivings, driving motorcars soon became a popular pastime among the wealthy European and Asian elites, with a Singapore Automobile Club formed in 1907 for car enthusiasts. Motor racing, in particular, was a favourite hobby of the Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, who frequently organised motoring rallies at his Tyersall residence near the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Although there were some 11,000 privately-owned motorcars in Singapore by 1940, motoring remained the preserve of the minority and it was only after the Second World War that this mode of transportation started to be used by masses.