Welcome back to wheels! How’s your gorgeous 1970 280 SL Pagoda?
Thanks for having me back for a second time! The Mercedes is doing great. I only drive it every now and then to avoid adding too many miles to the engine, but now that the weather is cooling down, it won’t be too long before it makes an appearance on the roads.
We’ll look out for it! We never really asked how your passion for cars began. Enlighten us…
Well, when I moved from Jordan to Milan to study engineering, I fell in love with Italian cars and those designs. As a student in Italy, I could not afford to buy a car as they were so expensive at the time. Also, the running costs and insurance was particularly heavy.
Not much has changed over in Europe! What kind of cars do it for you?
I have always loved speed and fast cars and therefore, have a passion for sportscars and convertibles. I have always admired the Alfa Romeo GTV6 as well as all the sports models of the Lancia.
The GTV6 was a beauty. You didn’t stay long in Italy did you…
No, just one year. Then I decided to move to the US to continue my education. I drove and owned so many different cars there, it was a great time. Cars are relatively cheap there and you can always get great deals for raucous muscle cars to elegant European sportscars too.
What was the first car you bought?
It was a 1978 Chevrolet Nova – something that a grandma would drive! But, it was very clean and affordable and since my dad refused to buy or assist me in buying a car, I had to work in a fast food restaurant for two years until I had saved enough money to be able to afford my own set of wheels. From then on, I would buy a car and drive it for a few months and then change it for another. I also learnt how to fix cars from my American school mates. Most guys have knowledge in repairing cars and I always envied that since mechanics always charged a lot to fix cars. I stayed away from them and learnt how to fix them myself. There’s a level of satisfaction that repairing your own car gives you.
You’re absolutely right. Moving on, what was your first car that had some guts?
It was a 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner. It had the 400 cubic inch V8 motor and lots of torque. It was in mint condition and a real blast to drive! I later owned everything you can imagine from Chevrolets, Fords, Alfas and Lancias. I also had my fair share of Toyotas and Volkswagens. BMWs and Porsches were out of my budget as they were expensive to maintain. Back then there used to be a running joke that if you owned one of these cars, you were either a doctor or a lawyer!
Tell us about that 280ZX of yours…
Oh, that was such a beautiful car. It belonged to a close friend of mine, Wanda Carlo Linares. She was a school professor, from Puerto Rico, and she owned the most amazing 1982 Nissan 280ZX. She let me drive that black, t-top beauty and I would help her service it. I bought it from her and had some wonderful times with that car. I still regret selling it when I moved from New York to California but I had to because of all the emission laws there at the time. Years later, in 1996, I ended up here in Dubai and started working in the training and consultancy field and decided to settle in the UAE. I imported a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL from Jordan and I drove it for few years before selling it to a lovely lady who later became the mother of my child!
Great work! Right, lets move on to your Porsche…
It’s a 1997 Carrera 2S and probably one of the most beautiful cars I have ever owned. It gracefully combines the gorgeous bodywork of the Turbo with the everyday usability of the standard Carrera. It has a six-speed manual transmission and the rare Terracotta leather interior.
It looks in top shape. Where did you find such rare 993?
It was advertised online by Paul Wilkinson, whom the car belonged to. He’d taken great care of it and after negotiating a fair deal for it, it was mine in the space of two weeks. Paul, an airline pilot in the UAE, and I have since become good friends.
These were the last air-cooled Carrera’s – does it give you any issues?
Like a lot of older cars, they have their moments! But my dear friend Shaju at Jas Motors, who specializes in Porsche’s, has helped me maintain my car from the day I bought it. He always makes sure to use genuine Porsche parts and has done a great job in keeping it in the shape it’s in. Every now and then, I’ll order some parts from the US since they are widely available cheaper. It’s taken quite some effort in getting it in the shape it’s in.
Where do you like to stretch its legs?
I love to drive it on Shaikh Zayed and Emirates Road and listen to that raucous 3.6-litre six-pot. It belts out 272bhp and rowing through the gears is very satisfying. I would never take it to the track nor do I have any plans to do so. It’s not nice pushing such rare car that hard. Having said that, I did participate in the Audi R8 experience at the Dubai Autodrome and it was the best thing I have ever done. I learnt a lot and I strongly recommend it. I guess it’s more fun when you’re throttling someone else’s car!
You have big plans for both your cars, right?
Yes, my intention is to ship both the Pagoda and the Carrera back to Jordan when I decide to leave the UAE. I think the heat in the UAE takes its toll on vintage cars and I’d rather keep them somewhere cool where they’ll last longer and can be driven more in the open. These are two cars that I just don’t want to part with. As thrilling as it is to drive, I find myself spending as much time behind the wheel as I do just staring at the Carrera. It also gets lots of attention due to the fabulous shape its in.