You've got more chance of seeing Bigfoot than a pristine 1980 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 like yours around here. You must be one happy chappy…
Every time I turn the key it puts a smile on my face. It's a proper, old-school muscle car that is loud in every respect. Everybody asks me about it and wants to take a picture of it and I'm always happy to oblige. My friends just couldn't believe that I actually bought this car when they first saw it. While cruising around, I'll often get signs of appreciation from people passing by. It's such a feel-good car.
You were born in Dubai, so that explains your passion for cars…
Yes, this might be one of the reasons as you can spot all the latest models and all kinds of cars here on any given day. It's the ideal place to live for a petrolhead. But I've been into cars since my childhood days. I would collect dinky cars and take them with me wherever I'd go.
Not only do I love cars but I just really enjoy driving, regardless of what I'm behind the wheel of. In fact, this passion for driving lead me to get myself a job as a desert safari guide during my college days.
That must have been a great experience. You learnt to identify different models when out on drives with your parents, right?
That's right. I remember we'd go on longdrives when I was younger and my brother and I would always play a game of ‘spot the car'. We'd challenge one another to identifyas many different brands as we could during the ride.
That's one of the best games ever. Right, what was your first car?
It was a US-spec Honda Accord coupé witha manual gearbox. It was a great first car and then I moved on to a 2007 Nissan Altima which was decent enough.
Now I also own a Mitsubishi Pajero,which I use as my daily driver, but deep down, I wanted something that'd leave a lasting impression on others…
Cue the Camaro…
It's the most interesting car that I have owned to date, although I dream of having a Nissan GT-R. I love those and that is not going to change for a long time.
It took months before I came across the Chevy. Every evening after work I would show my wife the cars that were on the market and would try to convince her that we ought to get one for ourselves. She wasn't so keen on the idea but when she saw the Camaro, she finally relented. I remember surfing the net one evening looking around for interesting cars when an advert for the Camaro popped up. It belonged to an Emarati in Sharjah and we arranged to meet. I was surprised to see that he'd actually brought the car as I was expecting to be taken to the location it was kept. This proved it wasn't a garage queen.I was stunned by the condition it was in. The very next day I took it to a garage to have it thoroughly checked and after it was given a clean bill of health, we proceeded with a deal.
Were you actively seeking a Z28?
I was looking for an American muscle car in general. I had a few Mustangs on my list butI never came across a neat one.
What do you like best about it?
It has to be the sound of the engine. It roars to life and actually startles people. My Z28 has a 5.7-litre V8 with around 190 horsepower and it's mated to a four-speed auto 'box. It gathers pace with uncanny ease as there's sufficient power under the bonnet and I know I'll run out of courage before it runs out of legs. But, this is a piece of American history and, therefore, I have no intention of pushing it too hard.
I can see my reflection in the engine bay, almost everything in there has been chromed. Was that down to you?
I haven't done too many modifications to it, it was mostly done by the previous owner. He'd really gone to town on the car and now it's my job to keep it looking as sharp as possible. My main focus is to repair the usual wear and tear and keep it exceptionally maintained.
It really is a stunner. But it's over 30 years old — does it give you any issues?
Vintage cars need to be well maintained and taken care of. Yes, once in a while it does throw a fit and has some issues that need to be seen to, but nothing major. Servicing it is not a problem, but getting parts can be difficult. Most of the time, you have to import them from the US.
But I bet it's well worth the hassle. Where do you enjoy driving the most?
I love driving it down Shaikh Zayed Road and also Jumeirah Beach Road on the weekends with my wife in the passenger seat. I often take it to car meets and I'm a member of the Jebel Ali Cool Car Klub. We get together once a month and it's a great way to socialise and meet like-minded people with an interest in classic cars.
It's certainly a car to keep for the long run…
I only bought it this year so selling it now is out of the question. However, I keep trying to find out how much people would be willing to pay for it and if the right offer came along, then who knows? There are many people who ask if I'm planning to sell and I tell them, "I'll put you on the list."