Khurram couldn’t be happier with his Toyota but still dreams of Mustangs and Corvettes... Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/ANM

We bet your Celica confuses people when you drive past, especially since you’ve removed all the Toyota badges on the exterior…

It does, quite a lot. I replaced the Toyota logos with Ruff Ryder badges on the exterior and this little tweak alone has made a huge difference to the car.

The badge defines any car, but once removed it is incredible how different it can look. I would say my Celica is totally different from other Celicas out there and it makes me laugh when I catch people doing a double take when I drive past. They’re always wondering what car this is.

The matte black paint and bonnet scoops is a nice touch…

Thank you. It’s always nice when people appreciate my car. It somehow makes it all seem worthwhile.

As you can see, I have had a lot of modifications made to the exterior and the interior too. Best of all, the whole process just took one month. Once you have an idea in your head, you want it done as quickly as possible. I was fortunate to get my way and most importantly, I was satisfied with the work done. The whole thing set me back more than the actual cost of the car, but I was happy to do it as this is my pride and joy.

I guess you’ll be driving with the roof closed soon…

Unfortunately, yes. The weather is changing and it’s certainly getting hotter now. But there are still a few weeks left before the real heat kicks in so I guess I will still be able to enjoy driving with the top down. I love driving in the evenings with the top down and it’s such a nice feeling to be able to enjoy the fresh air and not have to rely on the AC to stay cool.

Have you always liked convertibles?

Yes, and from a very early age. I have to say that my Celica is the prefect car for me because it’s not just attractive but it is very economical in terms of fuel consumption, too.

The best thing about it is that it has a very reliable 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo and it makes around 135bhp. Since it is mated to a five-speed manual, this makes the car more enjoyable to drive. It also handles and corners really well. It’s the same engine those old Camrys use and about 80 per cent of the mechanical parts are the same. That makes finding parts pretty easy, be it new or used, not to mention at affordable prices.

Getting parts for older cars is usually a hassle — glad you’re not encountering this problem. Did you buy this here?

No, I had it shipped from the US with lots of help from a close friend of mine who moved there three years ago.

It is quite difficult to find a convertible sixth generation Celica here in the UAE. I have not seen many of them around since I got mine, which is usually the opposite of what happens when you buy a car; you end up seeing the same ones on every street corner.

True. You’re always willing to take snaps of your car for other people it seems…

That’s becoming the case more and more. I went to get some groceries and when I returned, there was a delivery guy taking photos of the car with his mobile phone. I opened the door and allowed him to sit inside and took a photo of him behind the wheel. He was surprised and happy and said he’d be sending the photo back home to his wife.

That was kind, but don’t let anyone take it for a spin. What do you like best about it?

I would say the smooth ride, the feeling of the wind in my hair and the presence it has on the road. It also has decent power and all of these combine to make this a fun car. It hits the spot for me. And it turns a few heads when I am cruising around Dubai Marina, which is my favourite place to show it off. My five-year-old son loves this car too, but when he is old enough to drive my dream is to buy him a Ferrari.

Better start saving. This isn’t your first Japanese sportscar though is it?

No, I had a 1994 Mitsubishi GT300. It was red and had T-tops and was such a great car. I really miss it, especially the roar of the exhaust and those pop-up headlights. It used to make me feel as if I was driving a Fezza. It wasn’t as quick as one but its 3.5-litre V6 was a very healthy engine indeed.

A final question; what is your dream car?

I have three. I’ve always wanted a 1979 Chevrolet Corvette and a 1982 Ford Mustang convertible. Old is gold as they say and I firmly believe in the classics rather than the new models. The other car I would like is a total contrast to the first two; a Mini Cooper JCW. This just looks like so much fun to drive. I am sure I would love it.