What got you into cars?
I have to thank my cousins back home in Australia for that. They are into anything with an engine and always say, "if it's not a V8, it isn't great!"
I second that notion! What sort of cars do you like and why?
Generally speaking, I like big cars but I can appreciate all things — big and small. I used to have a ball in my 2009 Nissan GT-R, which I just recently sold. I had three years of madness with that. It was one of the first off the rack here (it helps having wasta, trust me!). It was a 2009 model year but I actually got it in August 2008 after getting back from the Beijing Olympics. It was one of my favourite cars and I just had to have it.
I don't blame you; it's a heck of a car. But what was your very first ride?
It was a Datsun 120Y when I was 17 years old. It got me back and forth from Queensland Uni even though it just had a tiny 1.2-litre motor. My dad bought it for me brand new. He wanted to get me a car that I wouldn't kill myself in, so I was perfectly safe in the 120Y, as it wouldn't go very fast! But it did the job and even got me some attention from the ladies because it was bright orange and quite a stylish-looking coupé! Since those humble beginnings, I have owned a Porsche 356 and 911, Karmann Ghia, Toyota Supra, Corvette ZR6, a few Mercs including an E55 and at one stage I zoomed around in a Lamborghini Diablo… But one of my favourites was that 120Y. You never forget your first car.
That's an impressive list! Two cars really stand out there — the 356 and Karmann Ghia. Tell us more.
Well, I bought the 356 from a friend of mine in the US. It is one of my babies! It currently sits at home in Australia where my brother and my dad look after it. My dad stretches its legs once a week by driving it to the golf club.
The Karmann Ghia looks a bit like the 356. It belonged to another friend in Melbourne and I bought it off him and had it shipped up to the sunny Gold Coast, which is where I am from. He was broke and needed the money so I helped him out and gladly took it off his hands.
That was a bit of a win-win situation. Are either of those your dream cars by any chance?
I love muscle cars, especially Cobras and Corvettes, they sound great. But my dream cars are a Bugatti Veyron and a Ferrari 356 GTB.
Nice. Right, moving on to your current ride, your Jeep SRT8.
It's one heck of an SUV, what with a 6.4-litre V8 that produces 470bhp. I have always liked these and owned a 2006 SRT8. When this new one came out, I was first off the block. I actually ordered it in June 2011 and got my hands on it early February. It's like a Mercedes on the inside and a wild monster outside. It's so nice that even my wife approves of it.
Does she drive it?
Yep, and she loves it. She says it's a monster and looks cool. It fits all her shopping and her friends' and there's loads of room for the golf clubs too! It has everything you could ask for in a car — practicality, comfort and bucketloads of power when you want it!
It looks as if it's built like a brick. But how does it handle?
Like a sportscar! It's amazing what Chrysler has done here. It has huge Brembos to give it lots of stopping power and for a large car, it really is great on the track. It has five driving modes (Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow) but Track is my favourite. The shackles come off with this and you can redline it. I don't think I'll ever need the Snow mode…
I doubt you will! How often do you take it to the track?
It's only been to Yas Marina once so far, but I am sure I'll be there again soon enough. I have a friend who works there you see…
Do you venture out into the rough with it?
It's a street car really so I don't see it going off-road anytime soon. It has 20in wheels, Nappa leather, lots of chrome trim and only 1,200km on the clock. I'd just like to maintain it as a street machine. I love the interior and the fact that the seats can be cooled! People don't get to see the cabin much — they just see the exterior and pass it off as just another Jeep. But let me tell you, US carmakers really are getting their act together these days.
They are able to match what they have under the bonnet with luxurious interiors and build quality too. There's nothing I would change or want to improve — Jeep has thought of it all this time around.
You've got all the right car connections, don't you?
There's been a lot of blood, sweat and tears and it's great to have local friends here in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I am blessed to have a great partner and members of staff too. Dubai really is the best place in the world for cars, I love it.