PHUKET now has two of the world’s fastest taxis.
Well known Patong personality, Somnuek ‘Nicky’ Phonkaew and his brother, Kai, have started the island’s first Ferrari hire car service.
For between 10,000 and 15,000 baht, they will get you from anywhere on the island to the airport in record time, and in a style usually reserved only for millionaire playboys.
Nicky owns two Ferraris, a bright red 360 Spider and a yellow F438, and he is keen to share the Ferrari experience with paying customers.
He is also offering a lap around the Patong circuit.
For 3000 baht, you will set off from Nicky’s Handle Bar at the Northern end of Rat U Thit road, race down past the Bangla turn off, and on to the end of the one way system, before turning into beach road, and back to the Handle Bar.
The car always attracts attention, and it is sure to become a popular
“It’s a lot classier than having your photo taken with a katoey or a lizard on Bangla,” said Nicky.
Nicky said when any of his ‘fares’ want to drive, he tells them ‘next time’.
“Only myself and my brother get to drive these Ferraris,” he said.
“They are too powerful to let just anybody drive them.”
The Ferraris might be fast, but there is only one passenger seat and very little room for luggage.
“Anything bigger than a matchbox will have to go in another car,” said Nicky.
“And we will probably have to send the luggage car ahead so we arrive at the same time,” he said.
Nicky said the idea of using the Ferraris as taxis occurred to him when a well-heeled German tourist offered him 15,000 baht to drive him to the airport in the 360 spider.
“I wasn’t busy, so I did it, and pocketed 15,000 baht,” he said.
“I suddenly realised it would be a great way to pay off the car, which cost me 18 million baht.
Nicky’s yellow F348 is the only one of its kind in Thailand.
He bought it from a private owner in Bangkok just on a year ago and drove it down to Phuket.
Not content with owning just one Ferrari, Nicky bought another one, the Spider, late last year.
The five-year-old, 400 horsepower, six-gear soft top convertible can hit 100 mph in four seconds, and has a top speed of 185 mph.
Nicky said the trip from Bangkok to Phuket took only eight hours, but on the way, he was stopped three times by admiring highway patrol police.
“The first cop stopped me and when I rolled down the window, he said ‘nice car’ and let me go.
“Two hours later, another policeman pulled me over, and again, he said ‘nice car’ and let me go.
“But the third cop who stopped me didn’t say ‘nice car’.
“He booked me for speeding.”
Nicky is a member of the Ferrari Club of Thailand and says there are only six other Ferrari owners on Phuket.
He is now hoping to start a supercar club on the island with regular rallies to Phang Nga.
He also wants to take a tour to Kuala Lumpur to race around the Sepang track which is used for the Malaysian F1 grand prix races.
“Eventually, I want to hold something similar to the European gumball rally,” he said.
“All of the supercars on Phuket will be welcome to join in, including Subarus,Mitsubishi Evo’s, the Ferraris, of course, and any other car owners who want to contact me,” he said.
In June, representatives from the Porsche club of Singapore will come to Phuket to talk to Nicky about developing the supercar club.
Nicky has already taken two tours to Phang Nga province, and four of Phuket’s six Ferrari owners joined in.
“We had Thai, Russian, German, Australian, and American car owners on the trip,” he said.
“Next time, I am sure there will be even more.”
Nicky spent his childhood travelling between his step-father’s home in Germany and Thailand, and he saw his first Ferrari at a car convention in Heidelberg, south of Frankfurt, when he was 17.
“I fell in love with Ferrari’s as soon as I saw it,” he said.
Over the years, Nicky’s love of machines turned to Harley Davidson motorbikes, and he now owns 20 of them.
But he always dreamed of owning a Ferrari.
“I would buy miniature Ferrari models from petrol stations wherever I went in Thailand, and eventually, I collected a full set.
“But I had to get the real thing,” he said.
“I’ve had my eye on a black F430, although white seems to be the new popular colour,” he said.
Last year a fake Ferrari made in the backstreets of Bangkok made world headlines when it was unveiled at a pirated goods convention in Brussels.
The car known as the P4, was fitted out with a Subaru engine, and disguised as a
As well as his Ferrari taxi service and his popular Handle Bar in Patong, Nicky is also building a 27 room motorcycle-themed hotel.
Construction began in November 2007, and the hotel is expected to open in June this year.
“We will cater for both bikers and people who want something a bit different,” he said.
Room rates will be range from 1000 to 1500 baht a night, with each room featuring a different bike-flavoured interior.
For further information, call Nicky on 076 345 770, or email firstname.lastname@example.org