The unexpected car culture of Taiwan

I’ve been lucky enough to travel around Asia a bit over the years, but my trip to Taiwan a couple weeks ago was a first for me. I knew absolutely nothing about Taiwan before I went other than the fact that all my childhood toys were made there – so it was pretty exciting to hop on a plane and go over to see the place for myself.

One of the things I was looking forward to the most was learning about the car culture in Taiwan. Most of Asia is pretty much void of American cars (in general), and it’s always a treat to see the weird and cool stuff roaming the streets in each new place that I visit. I was expecting mostly Toyota’s to be honest, but other than that…my guess was as good as yours.

Overall, what I found was pretty far from what I had imagined in my ignorant little brain of mine. Maybe it was the giant H2 Hummer that I saw on the taxi ride into the city on my first day there. Or maybe it was that bright orange Porsche GT-3 ripping away from a stop light. I’m not really sure at what point it was that I thought “wow!”, but I knew it was soon after I arrived and it didn’t take me long to reach that conclusion.

Taipei car spotting

This is the car culture in central Taipei. Not what I was expecting!

So yeah. “Wow” is the word I use to describe my reaction to the car culture in Taiwan. Here’s why:

  1. In general, the same kinds of cars we have here in the US are what’s popular over there. A lot of Toyota, Honda, VW, and Ford. I was expecting a much more exotic mix.
  2. The fact that Ford has such a large presence in Taiwan really surprised me. I’ve never seen so many American cars in any other Asian country.
  3. For some reason or another, I wasn’t expecting there to be much of a car enthusiast culture there. I’ve always thought of Taiwan as being a somewhat conservative anti-car country (ignorant thinking, I know), so seeing so many customized cars was really neat.
  4. There are quite a bit of supercars out and about around Taipei. McLaren, Porsche, Lamborghini – I saw it all.

My short trip to Taiwan (and Taipei more specifically) proved to me that there is indeed a thriving car community there, enough so that I’d love to go back some day and dig a little deeper into it. How cool would it be to explore all of Taiwan in a Ferrari 488? Or a McLaren 512C? That is a trip I’d like to make happen…