You’ve been passionate about cars for years...
My memory goes as far back as my childhood when all that mattered to me were cars. So much so that every gift I received was car related — be it posters or books, everybody knew what to get me.
It would have been fun shopping for you. Your first car was a bit of a gem. Tell us about it…
It was a 1984 model Alfa Romeo Giulietta which I bought in 1990 after getting my Lebanese driving licence. My love for Alfas grew when I was younger because my dad, Joseph, had an Alfa 2000. It really stood out from the crowd because in Lebanon, the most popular cars were BMWs and Mercedes.
Three years later, you bought another Alfa that, sadly, now resides in car heaven...
That’s right, I bought an Alfa 75 but I crashed it a few months later in a horrific accident which I miraculously survived. After this terrible experience, I forgot all about sportscars and went for the safer option — a Range Rover. But it wasn’t long before I realised I needed another sportscar, so in 1997 I bought the stylish Alfa GTV. I sold that in 2000 when I relocated to Dubai and as soon as I got my UAE driving licence (after my second attempt!) I went straight to the dealership to buy a brand new GTV.
But, it wasn’t long before you found yourself attracted to Porsches, right?
I couldn’t think of any other car with such a distinctive and timeless design — not to mention racing pedigree — that provided such a sensational feeling when behind the wheel. I have tested a few and always felt that I became a part of the car; the drive is that involving. Porsche might not have the visual impact of some supercars out there, yet it is still the preferred sportscar for those who appreciate superb engineering and performance. It isn’t a superficial car for show-offs, that’s for sure.
Agreed. So, which one did you buy?
I got a 2003 model 996 Carrera 4S and this was the beginning of a love affair with the legendary 911. The car was perfect in all respects apart from the tiptronic transmission, which gave me some trouble, and so my search for a manual began. In 2007 I went for a new Carrera and a couple of years later I felt the urge to upgrade the power by getting a Turbo.
You got lucky online didn’t you?
I did — I started looking on the internet for a clean 996 or 997 Turbo and was lucky to find a white 2009 model Turbo with a manual gearbox and it only had 6,000km on the clock.
The 10,000km mark came up pretty quickly, didn’t it?
It got there in just three months. The first service was done for free at the Porsche dealership and then the process of converting the car into my dream ride began.
What did you get done to it?
Well, I had the ECU tuned, and added a sports exhaust and sports air filter, which resulted in a huge power gain. It went from 480 to 560bhp.
Blimey. What about the interior and exterior?
I decided to completely remove the red leather in the cabin and went for an all-black look. Next, I added Hamann aluminium pedals and bespoke carbon-fibre trim which gave the interior a sporty touch. For the exterior, I had ‘Porsche Turbo’ decals made to dress the car up. There’s no mistaking what it is now. Finally, I added H&R wheel spacers in all four corners and painted the rims matte black to highlight the aggressive look of the car.
All these modifications cost me around Dh100,000 and I have no plans to tune it further. Maybe at a later stage my need for speed will see me push it to the next level. I might add headers, intercoolers and a bigger turbo. That should cost a pretty penny, but I’d love to get 800bhp out of the 3.6-litre six-pot motor.
It looks terrific and is arguably the nicest 997 out there. You must be quite proud of it…
Thank you, and yes I am. It’s been a labour of love and I am very pleased with the result. I like to drive it at weekends — with the windows down and the radio off. This way, I get to enjoy the exhaust note more.
You’re not wrong. But, it’s got you in a bit of trouble in the past…
It was more than a bit. I received a fine of Dh2,000 and got 12 black points on my licence for speeding, and to top it off, I was in danger of having the car confiscated for 30 days. Ultimately, I paid Dh3,000 over and above the Dh2,000 to get it released and, yes, I have definitely learned my lesson — I don’t drive fast on the road anymore. However, I do plan to push it on the track some day.
Best place for it. You’ll be hanging on to this one for a while yet…
I am definitely keeping mine for the long run and would love to see my son, Mateo, drive it when he is older. Mateo follows me with his little go-kart at the Dubai kartdrome and he dreams of becoming a Formula 1 champion. Remember the name.