My Uber Driving In 1971

By Leo Wai Hang Lau 劉偉鏗

Leo Lau combo pic 3

Raimondi P1 to F7 (1958 – 1971): F5A 1969

I would like to share some happy memories of my having been the unofficial chauffeur for my Raimondi schoolmates.

I got my driving licence when I was in F7, 1971. My dad permitted me to use his car, a red Singer Vogue, plate No. 219. Of course I was happy to oblige and I was soon driving all over Hong Kong with my schoolmates to enjoy very nice outings and sometimes even just to help them run trivial errands!

It was just like driving Uber except that I did not get paid.

We had a great time visiting all the touristy places, and particularly the beaches were wonderful with clear and clean water. Like at Deep Water Bay, we even had to avoid stepping on the many sea urchins in the water. At that time, we did not realize that “uni” was a prized delicacy or else we’d have caught all the sea urchins there!

Usually, it was as simple as one guy calling the others up saying, “Let’s go to the Peak Restaurant to eat Hoi Nam Chicken Rice,” and then off we went. No questions asked. Somehow, we seldom asked a lot of questions then. We just did things and owed no one any explanations.

 

Leo Lau Singer Vogue Enhanced

Leo Lau and his father’s Singer Vogue, made in Britain.

 

Leo Lau The Peak enhanced

At the Peak, with (from left): Marcus Ng Cheuk Hang , 葉仔 Yip Yuk Hing, 老虎 Lee Ying Kuen, 楊廣雄 Yeung Kwong Hung, Hermann Hui Kay Cheong.

In later years, I was the chauffer for some schoolmates’ weddings too. Still not paid, and I was not allowed to take a discount off my wedding gift!

Leo Lau Yip Wedding Enhanced

1978-03-11: 葉仔Yip Yuk Hing and Winnie. The car is a Holden Premier, made in Australia.

 

Leo Lau Lynn Wedding

1980-10-04: Lynn仔 Joseph Lynn and Pansy. BMW 7系 made in Germany.

Even though my dad had owned the registration plate 219 since the ‘50s, Hong Kong law was that it could not be passed on by way of inheritance, so 219 was returned to the government in 2011 when my mother passed away. Then in 2014, I learned that the government would be auctioning off 219. Of course I had the incentive to reclaim this part of my family’s history. I was in Toronto, so I got a representative to bid for me at the auction held on May 17, 2014.

I was not really expecting a lot of competition as 219 did not rhyme with Chinese lucky phrases, and Hong Kong had introduced a personalized registration mark system since 2006 which reduced the demand for special plates somewhat. To my big surprise, the bidding was intense and my last bid of HK$1.5M was beaten by a lady who got 219 for HK$1.6M. My rep then learned that her family already owned 217 and 218, hence her quest for 219!

Well, this picture might explain my own passion for 219 which I grew up with:

Leo Lau Rambler Enhanced

1960s: Elder brother and me. Rambler Ambassador, made in USA.

In 2017, I learned that my grandpa’s plate HK1642 was available for bidding. There was little competition this time, as the numbers hardly rhymed with lucky phrases. I got it as a consolation prize to comfort myself for not having gotten 219.

I think my Uber habits have not changed since 1971. Any of you schoolmates visiting Toronto, please feel free to let me know and if I’m in Toronto, I’ll be very happy to chauffeur you to a nice meal at the many wonderful Chinese restaurants in Markham!