In The Passenger Seat: Fu Dian, Administrator of Mazda Skyactiv Society

Photo 2020 09 11 15 29 19(Photo: Fu Dian)

Car clubs in Singapore are quite common but they might not be as easy to run. Although most of them are welcoming, it is difficult to erase the stigma that they are just there to "show off". Today, we challenge that stigma as Fu Dian, admin of Mazda Skyactiv Society (MSS), tells us that it's more than just about cars.

Fu Dian is a financial advisor but his passion for cars and motorsports were ignited from a young age. He read about car clubs from local car magazine's feature when he was younger which later inspired him to join a car club to enjoy the camaraderie and friendship with like-minded people.

After getting his Mazda 3 in 2017, he joined MSS and eventually became part of the admin team to help plan and organise events and meetups.

Let's drive through the ins and outs of owning a car club with Fu Dian:

What is your daily drive?

Photo 2020 09 11 15 30 03(Photo: Fu Dian)

I own a Mazda 3 Sedan (IG: @greymazda_3). I picked this model because I was looking for a new car that is relatively fuel efficient, reliable, sporty without using a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or Dual-Clutch and it won’t burn a hole in my pocket in the long run. I was sold by the design of the interior and exterior of the car and the way it drives and handles corners.

It was competitively priced compared to its direct rivals such as the Toyota Altis and Honda Civic at the time.

My Mazda 3 had proven to be a reliable and fun to drive workhorse except for a common but minor problem through my three and half years of ownership. I enjoyed the drive at the B-Roads up north and the long drive up to Genting Highland. I still look forward to driving it daily.

What is so special about Mazda?

13064666 10154016144916488 5806248017310138183 O(Photo: Mazda Ecuador)

The attention to details and the driver centric design as they follow a philosophy known as "Jinba-Ittai " (Horse and Rider).

The term Jinba-Ittai is explained as follows: ‘Jinba-Ittai reflects the feeling that the sense of oneness between a rider and his beloved horse is the ultimate bond.’

It’s a bond that Mazda has worked tirelessly to recreate between car and driver ever since; a feeling that can only be engineered through the passion and expertise of the Mazda development drivers who have passed the torch of Jinba-Ittai between them over three generations.

Over the years, Mazda has improved a lot in their designs and the choice of material in the car. The quality of the material and build of the car can rival other continental cars which usually cost a much more than a Mazda.

When did you start the Mazda Skyactiv Society (MSS)?

79798500 10157040964014506 7895798770942607360 O(Photo: Mazda Skyactive Society)

MSS was founded in 2016 by a few pioneering members who met up because of a group buy in MyCarForum thread discussing about the Mazda 3 Skyactiv model.

Currently, a few of my friends and I run the club together. Wei Jie, Tecky, Justin and I are considered the second generation of people to run it.

Why did you start Mazda Skyactiv Society?

Skyactiv was still a new Mazda platform in 2016. Hence, we wanted to establish a platform for fellow car owners or enthusiasts to share their knowledge about the new technology and solutions to troubleshoot common problems faced in this generation of the Mazda Skyactiv model. Furthermore, it is also a platform to share inspiration for modifications that will help enhance the aesthetic or performance aspect of their cars.

What kind of activities can people look forward to in a car club?

Photo 2020 09 11 15 30 11(Photo: Tecky Photoworks)

We have events like our monthly meetups, breakfast drives up north, group buys and special events like Christmas and Chinese New Year (CNY) gatherings. Moreover, we have impromptu suppers and photoshoots for our cars together.

What are some challenges you faced while running a car club?

Planning and organising activities are the most challenging but fun part of running a car club.

It satisfies me when I see our members bonding during the events. We always have our monthly meetups and special events like this year’s CNY Lou Hei Session hosted by Stamford Tyres.

The trouble comes when we’re looking for a suitable location to host our monthly car meets as we must ensure that the location is big enough to accommodate the cars with reasonable parking rates, amenities like toilets nearby and not cause a disturbance to the public. Therefore, we are incredibly grateful when vendors like Stamford Tyres allow us to host our meetup in their compounds.

What is the most memorable experience you had in this club?

Photo 2020 09 11 16 38 22(Photo: Mazda Skyactiv Society)

It was during the SG Motorfest Mega Meet-up held last year November. There were many various Singapore car clubs that gathered at Changi Exhibition Centre to get into the Singapore Book of Records for the Largest Gatherings of Car Clubs.

It feels good to be part of this historic moment for the car communities here.

I enjoyed the event and was grateful for the organisers. Most importantly, there were many volunteers who worked very hard to pull this amazing feat off.

To add one more for the road, we also participated in last year’s SIMFAI E-Legal Race held. It was great fun racing along the historical old Upper Thomson Road in a professional grade driving simulator with other car club members. A huge thanks to SIMFAI Solution and Stamford Tyres for organising such events for us to race competitively in a safe environment and also make many new friends from other car clubs.

Do you have any notable members in your club?

Photo 2020 09 11 15 30 25(Photo: Teck Guan)

Teck Guan A.K.A Tecky, our club photographer and partner (IG: @teckyteck). He is the man behind most of the photos in our club. He is a freelance photographer who used to take photos for “The Right Wrong” too. I was extremely impressed with his photography skills. Do hit him up if you are looking for a good photographer for photoshoots.

He is also an avid collector of car scale models from Tomica, Hot Wheels and more.

As for his ride, his Mazda 3 is very simple, clean and tastefully done. Most of us feel that it is one of the most nicely modified Mazda 3 Hatchback in the club!

How does car clubs support the automotive community in Singapore?

Car clubs provide a platform for like-minded car owners to make friends with one another. We can also help support our members’ businesses by contacting them when we need their services or products. For example, we have a member who runs a dim sum restaurant so when we crave for dim sum, we’ll order from him.

We can also do group buys for certain products or services that have demands in the club. This is one of the perks of being in a car club as it is a win-win for both the vendors and our members.

Recently as a club, we contributed two drums of hand sanitizers as a part of a bigger donation drive organised by The Next Thing to many foreign worker dormitories and old folks homes.

Any tips for people interested in starting a car club?

Dsc 7930(Photo: Mazda Skyactiv Society)

I think it is important to pay more attention to the new members especially when they first attend events. Welcome them to the club and encourage a sense of belonging.

I will usually request the new members to find me during meetups so I can introduce them to other members and car owners with the modifications they are looking to install. This lets everyone, including me, know them on a deeper level.

This will drive them to continue going for events and participating in future activities.

What are your goals for the Mazda Skyactiv Society?

Photo 2020 09 11 15 30 21(Photo: Tecky Photoworks)

I envision this club to continue serving its purpose to support people, in terms of knowledge and being a community to turn to when you face problem with your car. For example, when your car needs a jumpstart due to a weak battery, we have members who are available and nearby to help you out. From this incident, new friendships can also be formed.

Although we have many members who are no longer driving a Mazda, they remain active and continue to support our events and meetups because of the friendships formed here in MSS.

I am thankful for this opportunity to run a car club and the friends I made through my love for cars. I look forward to continue doing what I do for as long as I can.

Find out more about the Mazda Skyactiv Society and Mazda cars in Singapore by joining their friendly community now! I'm sure you'll find your answers there.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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