We usually wouldn’t give a Nissan Altima a second glance but you have certainly made yours worthy of closer inspection! Why did you decide on doing this?
I wanted to make my car unique and stand out of the crowd. None of the cars we have had in the family have remained bone stock, there have always been some changes to them over the time we’ve had them. Some of my friends have modified cars too and I’ve helped them with ideas as to how to modify them.
I have lots of ideas and a wild imagination and perhaps most importantly, know where to get the work done. So it was my turn, having just turned 18 and passing my driving test in January 2012. The Altima belonged to my mother but she gave me the car as a gift. I always wanted to do something different to it.
It certainly is different! Whose idea was the skull design?
It came from me and the chaps at Al Ghandi Customs, Dubai. We decided that based on the overall appearance of the Altima, this would give it an aggressive and meaner nature. The smoking skull paint work begins from the centre of the bonnet and spreads all the way to the front doors.
Was getting permission from the police or the RTA an issue?
Not really. We first needed permission to have three different colours on the car. Then, further approval was needed for having the skull and flame design on it. I first had to provide images of what it would look like on paper to the Sharjah Police Traffic Department to get their authorization. Also, permission was required from the RTA but Al Ghandi Customs helped by getting their necessary go ahead.
How long did it take to complete?
It took around two weeks. First, the car was painted xenon black and then during the Middle East Motor Tuning Show (MEMTS), the design was air-brushed live in front of thousands of spectators. I would like to thank the organizers of MEMTS and the guys at Al Ghandi who were all very helpful during the entire process.
You must have had a great time at the show...
It was an amazing experience and an honour to meet H.E. Sheikh Salim Bin Abdul Rahman Al Qassimi, Director of the Sharjah Ruler’s Office, who inaugurated the show. There were more than 600 participants with all sorts of modified cars ranging from sportscars to saloons to SUVs.
I particularly enjoyed the drifting event not to mention the car audio competition and last but not the least the air brush contest. I even joined the modified car club and I am the youngest member.
Didn’t you Altima win an award?
Yes, it won the Best Air-Brush Award at the show. It was an online voting system and I received a whopping 10,596 votes which was enough to secure me first place. I got a trophy and a certificate which I am very proud of.
It must be hard to keep a low profile in your car...
It does stand a bit! But I mostly get thumbs up from people who see it and nice remarks. People appreciate the design and the work that has gone into the car. No matter where I go, people compliment me and ask how I got it done, from where and what it cost. But the most common thing I am asked is whether custom paint jobs are allowed here in the UAE.
What does the police have to say about it?
Patrol officers drive alongside my car and always give it a double take. It can be a little unnerving at times but since I have done all the modifications legally, I have nothing to worry about. If I get stopped, I just show them my registration card and that is the end of the matter.
Hmm, scary. What do your friends and family make of it all?
My family thinks it is great and they are proud of me. My friends love it too and wherever I go, people notice the car and this makes me feel really happy.
Do you plan on any other designs or maybe a complete change?
No, I don’t think that I would modify or add anything to this design as it is unique. I don’t think there is any room for improvement on this paint job. I do plan on changing the alloys, perhaps adding a body kit and getting a performance exhaust system and air filter.
I am thinking of buying a new car and working on it. I’d probably get an Infiniti G37 coupe and then modifying the engine and body.
If you go crazy on it, give us another shout! Finally, what the dream?
A Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. I have been in love with this car ever since I first saw it. It is just perfect.
Name: Mohammad Amir Ashraf
Job: Mechanical engineering student
Wheels: 2007 Nissan Altima
In the UAE: Born and brought up in Dubai