The last time we saw you was in issue 235 when you brought your Corvette in for us. Are you still burning rubber in it?
Unfortunately, I had to part ways with the Corvette. I was a single man when I owned that car and I had a lot of fun with it. It was one of my dream cars. It had a 6.2-litre V8 that produced 430bhp but I had modified it by adding tuning the ECU, adding a performance air filter and headers. It then had an output of 550bhp and could accelerate from 0-100kph in 3.9 seconds.
We remember it well. It was a heck of a car. Why did you sell it?
Well, about four years ago, I became a family man and had to change my lifestyle. That meant I also had to change my car, too. It was such a wrench waving goodbye to the Corvette, but I needed something bigger for the family.
That’s the problem with Vette’s — they only have two seats. So what did you do?
I picked up a 2010 Cadillac SRX. Sure, it was big enough to accommodate my wife and kid and me, but for the one and half years that I had it, it seemed as if it was being left behind at the lights by everything else on the road! Trading a Corvette for a Cadillac is the last thing a petrolhead should do. It just wasn’t quick enough for me. Naturally, I wasn’t happy about that and something had to be done.
Let me guess; you tuned the Cadillac?
Yep! I added a G-Force chip then passed it on to my wife.
She doesn’t mind it as much as you, right?
Nope, she likes it. It’s ideal for her, in fact, as it is big, comfortable and is as safe as a house. I also feel at ease knowing she is driving it — it is like a tank!
But you still needed a car. What did you want?
I kept searching for a car that has it all; power, luxury, style and that could still accommodate the family. After much thought, I decided to buy a Mercedes-Benz S550 AMG. It ticked all the right boxes — especially the power part! It has a 5.5-litre V8 that made 430bhp and 520 Ft of torque. I say ‘made’ because as you know by now, I like to tinker with my cars. I have modified this one too; it has a complete custom-made Fox Exhaust system with headers, a G-Force acceleration chip, K&N Duel cold air intake and JDM performance ECU stage 3 kit. Now my Mercedes makes 550bhp (like the number of the badge!) and it has well over 880Nm of torque. It’s a bit of a monster!
Blimey, that’s powerful…
It sure is, but that’s not all; it can now hit 0-100kph in just 4.6 seconds. You can see from the photos just how powerful it is. I couldn’t drift this car when it was all original, but I sure can now.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing comes to mind. Tell us a little about some of the cars you used to own…
It’s a long story because cars have been a part of my life ever since I was a kid. My very first car was a 1971 Seat 133 with 0.8-litre engine. I remember that car well because I personally modified it with my own hands and upped the capacity of the engine to 1.6 litres. It was much more fun to drive after I had finished with it and looking back, I had to say I’m rather proud of it, especially since I was just 16 years old. After that, I got a 1981 Fiat 127 then a 1983 Fiat 128. Both were great cars and I have fond memories of them. In 2005 I bought my very first brand-new car. It was a Hyundai Accent and during the same year, I moved to Dubai.
You also had a Mustang, right?
That’s right; it was a real good looker. I got that just before I bought the Corvette. The Ford had racing stripes, 20in alloy wheels and a sports suspension. It was very fast. After that I picked up a Peugeot 407 in ruby red with a 3.0-litre engine. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I tweaked the ECU, added a larger air filter, modified the exhaust system and added 20in alloy wheels. It totally transformed the car and it was a joy to drive. Next up was a BMW 325i convertible and then a BMW 316i Turbo.
I think it’s fair to say cars are quite a serious passion of yours then.
Cars are my only hobby and have been as far back as I can remember. I’m not interested in sports nor do I have any other favourite pastimes other than involving myself in all things cars. In fact, my passion runs so deep for cars that even my wife knows that if I turn my head suddenly in the street it isn’t because I just saw a beautiful girl, but because I saw a car I like! While in Egypt, I used to compete in motorsports — I would love to be able to have the chance to do that here in Dubai.
Head to Dubai Autodrome; they have all kinds of events where you can drive your car on the track.
I would, but maybe not my own car! I drive my Mercedes in a very delicate and respectful way — most of the time. Taking it on the track sounds like fun, but it could also be a little risky. I don’t want to damage it or I’ll be left with the SRX again…
We wouldn’t want that to happen. Finally, what is your dream car?
Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse.
Name: Omar El Banna
Job: Accounts manager
Wheels: 2010 Mercedes-Benz S550 AMG
In the UAE: Eight years