In a new frame of hobbies and obsessions, young Saudi men are spending a fortune to customize their rides and make them stand out. Taking a leaf out of the popular TV show produced by MTV “Pimp My Ride” in which a group of mechanics take a car in poor condition and restore it, as well as customizing it, many youth are giving flight to their imagination in rebuilding or reshaping their cars. But what is different here is that the youths or car connoisseurs need to go to different garages to get their cars done to their wishes. And it could be just simple tweaks or the exotic. They modify their cars exteriors by changing the rims and paint as well as add accessories and logos. They tweak the inside too. They modify the seats, empower the engine and add a powerful sound system to have their music heard from miles away. “I have changed everything about my car from paint, wheels and tires to adding leather seats and improving the engine because I wanted my car to look exceptional and unique,” said Jameel Mousa, a 29-year-old marketer. “Until now, I have spent over SR100,000 on my Range Rover in one year, and more is still to come.” The unique feature of expensive and luxurious cars is what drives young men to imitate them. “I always wanted to own a yellow Lamborghini, but I never had enough money to buy one. So, I got my Honda and fixed the doors so that when they open, they open up instead of to the side and painted them yellow,” said 32-year-old Talal Al-Otaibi.
“My friends think I’m crazy for spending that much money on my car, but to me, it’s worth it.”
Special attention and treatment are given by car owners to make sure their cars are always in good shape. “Like any other car owner, my ride is my baby! I treat it with tender loving care by checking it once a month and giving special attention to the leather seats, dashboards, carpeting and, of course, that all-important exterior including the engine,” said Saad Najjar, a 24-year-old college student. “I take special care of my car even when I’m driving it by banning smoking, food and animals as they damage the interior of my precious.”
Showing off their cars outside the Kingdom is also something that Saudi men enjoy. “My ultimate goal is to make my car a showstopper, so I bought a Mercedes Coupe and changed the color from silver to matte black and painted the rims a shiny gold with my name carved on them,” said Ahmed Radwan, a 27-year-old MBA student. “I love how people gather around my car and take photos when I park it in London or Spain. It’s such an ego booster and it shows that I did something great with it.” Thousands of riyals are being spent to change the images of a car even if it ends up looking only a little different. “I bought new rims that cost me around SR50,000 and it looks amazing. I also changed the dashboard of my Audi R8 from wood to carbon fiber and replaced the tail lights with sporty ones,” said 25-year-old college student, Ali Adham. “Overall, it cost me around SR200,000 and I want to change the car’s color soon.”
Sultan Kamel, a 28-year-old businessman, gets his parts shipped from all around the world. “I order pieces from Canada, Japan, Dubai and the US for my car. Until now, I changed the engine to a stronger and much faster one, changed the color of the car from black to royal blue and added a powerful stereo in the back. I also recently added a wing to the car with a different color. Now, my car doesn’t look like a normal BMW,” he said. Internal fixing and engine upgrading are also done to change the car’s interior image. “I changed my gearbox from automatic to manual in my 350 Z Nissan and upgraded my engine by changing the compression from 10.3 to 9.1 to add a force induction. I also installed the twin turbo charge to give my engine more power,” said Hisham Bakhsh, 26-year-old owner of 3C-Racing, Costume Car Corner. “I have been dreaming to reach a high level of power and advancement in my car and now that I changed the internal settings, I feel like I achieved it.” “Overall I spent around SR150,000 internally and did not do anything externally because I like my car the way it is,” said Bakhsh.
Car beauty pageants and competitions are held twice a year in the south of Jeddah with over 100 participants. “I’ve been participating in fixed car competition to show off my car and see if the modifications I’ve done would earn me any prizes,” said Meteb Ibraheem, a 35-year-old businessman. “My Mazda has not won anything yet but I will keep on competing. I will keep changing the features of the car until I win the first prize.”
However, not all car remodeling is legal in the Kingdom, says Mohammed Al-Saudi, a car workshop owner. There are some restrictions to changing a car’s features that authorities have prohibited. “A car’s owner cannot change the car’s logo or do anything that changes the car’s brand from Honda to BMW for instance,” he said. “They also cannot change the year of production by renewing the outlook of the car to make it look like the new model,” said Al-Saudi.