Can I borrow a couple of Dirhams for the parking metre please?
Sorry, I’m all out of coins! It’s funny how many times I get asked that.
I hope you don’t actually peel any off…
No chance. It’s taken me one restless year to complete my ‘Pride of the Emirates’ project. The last thing I’m going to do is start picking it to bits! I had no social activity during this period, I worked on it during all of my spare time, weekends, holidays you name it. I even took leave from work to complete it. Now my car is famous all over the UAE and parts of the world, it makes me very proud and happy.
Before we get into the details of this stunning piece of art work, tell us what
got you into cars in the first place…
I have had a passion for cars since my childhood, which I inherited from
my grandfather. During my college days, I designed and assembled a two-seater automobile driven by a motorcycle engine and was awarded a special prize at
a science fair. I love off-roading and this led me to start my own business. I used to rebuild all sorts of Willys Jeeps, including the CJ7, M38, M38A1 and M151A2.
Then I visited the UK to study kit-car manufacturing, as I wanted to expand my business and build sportscars. I successfully built a replica Lamborghini Countach on, believe it or not, a Volkswagen chassis. It was the first kit car in Pakistan back in 1998 and it brought me lots of media attention. The futuristic looks of the Countach replica would stop traffic!
You must be getting the same reaction with your coin-covered Camaro. But, the question on everybody’s lips is, why?
The idea came to my mind when I was visiting the US more than 20 years ago. I saw many objects covered with shiny buttons and coins. Then, after coming to the UAE in 1999 and joining the Chevrolet dealership, I noticed how people here love to dress their cars up. Fancy paint jobs and huge shiny wheels were very much the in thing and still are today. So I decided that I would do something unique to mark the historical 40th UAE National Day.
There have been lots of products to commemorate it, but your Camaro is by far the most interesting. What made you choose this car?
Well, I bought the Camaro for my son; I wanted to get him something sporty that was readily available and this led me to the Chevy, which used to be red. These fourth generation coupés look great with their wide body and low-ride height. Its 3.6-litre V6 had decent performance too. When I told my son that I planned to use his car for this unique project, he was excited that it would be a part of the UAE’s history. But, I’ll have to buy him another car…
Well how about another Camaro? They’re ten a penny here… Talking of which, where did you get all those coins from?
A close friend of mine, who works in a bank, arranged brand new coins for this project. Interestingly, people had never come across one, five or 10 Fil denominations until they saw them on the Camaro, which also has 25 and 50 Fils and one-Dirham coins stuck to it too. I practised many designs on my dining table at home before settling on one that I thought would work. Then I had to find a place where I could do this without any distraction. I am very thankful to Crystal Shine who provided me with space and privacy in their facility.
You actually pasted each and every coin onto the car yourself, right? Pardon the pun, but you were really attached to this project...
If you want something done right, then you have to do it yourself. I feel a sense of pride and achievement in having laboured so hard over this. The first coin was pasted on October 15, 2010 and I actually only just finished a few days before the National Day celebrations began.
There were quite a few tricky encounters such as making a map of the UAE on the roof and deciding on a symbolic name for the car. Also, designing and writing the names of all seven emirates in both English and Arabic was quite difficult.
Alright, let’s talk figures. How many coins are on the car and what are they worth?
The total number of coins is approximately 33,000 with a face value of Dh21,000. The total weight of the coins is roughly 160kg and it took me a total of 3,000 hours
That’s a great way of adding value to a car. Literally. Does it drive?
Yes, the car is in perfect working condition although the plan is for it to become
more of a display piece at a prominent location. Right now, it’s pulling in the crowds at the Al Ghandi auto show room on Shaikh Zayed Road. I was invited to display it at Dubai Airport Terminal three for a National Day party and it gathered tremendous attention.
Many people want to buy it but I would never sell after all the work that’s gone into this car. I’ve become known as the coin car man now! But seriously, I hope it becomes a symbolic car for the UAE and that it is shown all over the emirates for years
- Name Tariq Javaid
- Job Chevrolet dealership purchase manager
- From Pakistan
- Wheels 1998 Chevrolet Camaro
- In the UAE 12 years