To start with, cars are expensive in Thailand - in spite of the fact that the Thai government has considerably lowered import taxes for most categories of cars in mid-1991. Japanese models dominate the market.
Most available cars (and motorcycles) are made in Thailand - or rather assembled, as most parts are still imported. Typically, the Thai assembled cars turn out to be more expensive than those made in the home countries of the mother companies of the Thai assembly firms. This didn't (and to a certain extent still doesn't) matter because of high protective import duties for ready assembled cars.
As labor is cheap in Thailand, those who can afford a car usually also have the money to employ a driver.
In Bangkok, cars are registered at the Police Registration Division, Phahonyothin Road (Tel 513-0051 to 5) Mon-Fri 8:00-16:30. The clerks there don't speak English and the registration is quite some work. Car dealers usually offer registration as a service, for which most of the time a separate fee is charged. Registration costs depend on engine size.
Third party liability insurance is not obligatory in Thailand. Traffic laws are pretty much the same as in the West though damages awarded to injured parties are ridiculously low by Western standards. Escaping the scene of an accident is construed as admitting that one was at fault.
Gasoline prices are fairly low in Thailand, less than half a US Dollar per liter (around 2 US Dollars per gallon). According to Asiaweek of March 1, 1991, gasoline costs in Indonesia around half of what it costs in Thailand. The price is minimally lower in Malaysia but higher in all other neighboring countries - by around 50% in the Philippines and in Singapore, and by around 100% in Hong Kong, Korea and Japan.
Caltex, Esso and Shell have wide networks of gasoline stations covering the whole country. Gasoline stations along main roads in Bangkok as well as cross-country highways operate 24 hours a day. Day-time stations usually open very early (around 5:00) but do not stay open long in the evenings (until about 20:00). Gasoline stations only seldom have full repair shops but are equipped to vulcanise tyres or change oil. Most car assemblers also operate their own large servicing workshops.