The name Zheng Geping has become synonymous with the terms “hunkle”, “fitness buff” and “#fitspo”. Just how much does the 54-year-old veteran actor live and breathe fitness? That answer can be found — in all places — his car, replete with workout gear for his after-work running and gym sessions. Coincidentally or not, Geping’s idea of a dream car — either a Jeep Wrangler or a Range Rover — boasts a tough, muscular exterior. Kinda like the beefcake himself. But the actor-slash-EP, who is married to Hong Huifang and has two kids, Tay Ying and Calvert Tay, is the epitome of a family man. Though he’s kept publicly silent about how the missus is embroiled in local showbiz’s biggest feud with Pan Lingling, he has plenty to say about his ride, and it all revolves around his brood. Family comes first when it comes to choice of cars, and he has sacrificed form for functionality, opting for something more practical. He now zips around town in a six-year-old Toyota Previa, a seven-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) with sliding doors, which he bought second-hand two years ago for over $100,000.
8 DAYS: Is this MPV your dream car?
ZHENG GEPING: No! (Laughs) Everyone around me knows that the type of car I love is either a Jeep or Land Rover. But I picked this MPV ’cos it’s more convenient to drive my extended family around. My family likes this car ’cos they can all squeeze inside it together! (Laughs) And it’s also easier, especially for the old folks, to get in and out of the car ’cos it has sliding doors. It’s also good for transporting a lot of stuff and also, travelling. In the past, I used to drive this car to places like Kuala Lumpur and Genting with my extended family. But if I had it my way, I’d go for a Jeep! When I was young, I watched the American TV show Combat! set during World War II, which featured the Willys Jeep, and I fell in love with it. But Willys Jeeps are no longer around. (Laughs) So the next best thing available on the market would be the Jeep Wrangler or a more solid car like the Land Rover Defender 90 or 110. I used to own a Land Rover Defender, and I still long to own one again! (Laughs)
How does your family while the time away in the car during long journeys?
Now that my kids have grown up, their eyes are glued to their phones. But when they were younger, they would watch videos on the car TV. I also installed a sunroof in my old car. You know how when you’re overseas, you can break the law? (Laughs) So Tay Ying and Calvert would stick their heads out of the sunroof and wave their hands in the air, especially when we were in Genting where the air is very cool.
Is eating allowed in your car?
Yes, ’cos I can’t control it. My kids always eat and drink in the car. But when they fart, I’d remind them to wind down the window. (Laughs) Sometimes, when one of my kids (mimics a farting sound), I’d go, “Eh! Silent bomb!” The culprit will go, “Oops, sorry!” (Laughs)
Does your MPV have a nickname?
People usually have female names for their cars. But for my previous Jeep and Land Rover, I named both of them Bruce. ’Cos I love Bruce Lee. (Laughs) I haven’t thought of a name for this car. But it’s being worked very hard, just like an ox, so I think I should name it ‘Ah Niu’. (Laughs)
What’s your biggest pet peeve on the road?
I hate it when people cut into my lane without signalling. It’s very dangerous. If someone does that, I’ll honk at him or her. As a public figure, I can’t show them my middle finger, right?
Have you been involved in any car accidents?
When I used to drive a Land Rover Defender, there was once a mini-lorry knocked into my car in Singapore. But the car was very solid, so it only had a little dent. The other party’s vehicle ended up in an even worse state. (Laughs)
Ever got a speeding ticket?
No, but only ’cos I haven’t been caught. (Laughs) I’m not a reckless driver. But sometimes, when I’m in a rush, I’d go slightly over the speeding limit. But it’s not the outrageous kind — this isn’t even a sports car!
What music do you usually listen to while driving?
People may be surprised. Sometimes, I listen to the radio ’cos I want to catch the news. But besides that, I only listen to English songs. During the day, I like listening to more motivational and inspiring songs, like ‘Mighty Wings’ and ‘Danger Zone’ from the Top Gun soundtrack. In the afternoon, I’d listen to songs with a slower tempo — but not so slow that they put me to sleep! Then at night, I really like listening to jazz. I don’t like listening to noisy songs at night. But, in the day, that’s a different story. (Laughs)
When was the last time you took public transport?
It’s been more than a decade since I last took the bus. Occasionally, I still take the MRT. If I’m going to, say, Orchard, I’d rather take the MRT. Sometimes, people recognise me and I’d say ‘hi’. No, it’s not awkward. I’m just one of you guys! (Laughs)
Scroll through the photo gallery above to see what we found inside Geping’s car.
PHOTOS: CHEE YAN