What got you interested in cars?
I was probably influenced by thoseHot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars whenI was a kid, and Speed Racer cartoons.
I remember noticing a 1967-68 Ford Mustang when I was just four years old and thinking it looked cool. I also remember reading car magazines when I was six — although I was looking at the photos first, and reading later.
What was your first car?
It was a 1966 Corvair Corsa coupé which my dad and I got when I was about 17. The plan was to restore it together. I hand-sanded the whole thing down to partial bare metal, dida number of minor repairs, added headers, had new floorboards welded in and then we sent it off to a body shop for paint.
I kept the car about six years, but it eventually got very rusty due to the harsh Chicago winters and road salt. But, it was very reliable considering its age. I had that car when I met my wife — she rode in it the night we met. Following the Corvair, I had a 1975 BMW 2002 and then a 1980 Alfa Romeo Spider.
Tell us about your current Corvair…
It's a 1965 Corvair Monza convertible and has a 110bhp two-carb motor with a four-speed manual. It also originally had factory air conditioning, which fewer than 3 per cent of Corvairs had back then, and even fewer convertibles would have had that option.
It's quite rare then. When did you buy itand where?
I bought it in December 2009 on eBay from California, and it arrived here in April 2010. I'd wanted to get one for years — I had considered buying the ‘One and Only' Corvair you featured in issue 282 of wheels — but thought it was overpriced.
I finally decided after so many years here in Dubai it was time to reaffirm my interest in classic cars. I sold my 2002 Mustang GT convertible and used the proceeds to buy the Corvair, and then bought an inexpensive 2003 Ford Mondeo as my daily driver.
You've had bits and bobs done to it, right?
Before I shipped it here I had the windshield replaced and the AC compressor and condenser, which had been removed by the previous owner, reinstalled. Once it got here I had to get the zipper on the rear window replaced. I also stripped and repainted the inside of the trunk area — which was showing a little surface rust — myself. Finally, I had to get the fan motor for the AC repaired.
Other than that, the car runs great and hasn't presented any real maintenance problems. It looks good from 20 feet — but it could use a fresh paint job as it has some minor stone chips and scratches.
What do you like best about these cars?
I think they are one of the most interesting classic American cars out there, both in terms of technical engineering and design, as well as being the notorious star of Ralph Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed book.
The Corvair was the only mass-produced American car with an air-cooled, rear-mounted engine. It's an aluminium six-cylinder boxer motor, like a Porsche. It was also one of the first mass-produced turbocharged cars worldwide. Other firsts for American mass-produced cars include the first unibody construction and first production car with four-wheel independent suspension.
It plays a big part in your social life...
One of the things I really like about having this car is that it led me to get involved in car clubs. I'm a member of the Sharjah Old Cars Club, through which I registered the car in Sharjah, hence the special ‘365' plate, which happens to correspond with my birth date and the days of the year that I enjoy the car.
I'm also a member of the Jebel Ali Cool Car Klub (jacckdgas.com). It's opened up a whole new social scene for me.
Finally, what's your dream car?
It has to be relatively unique — not something you can go and buy new off the showroom floor. It has to be manual, high performance, and it should be a bit practical too; at least two seats, a radio and AC are needed. With all this in mind, my dream car is a Superformance GT40 Mk1, in the Gulf livery. I assume the best My Wheels ‘dream car wish of the year' is granted, right? Vote for me!