Welcome back to My Wheels, Salem. We last sawyou six years ago (issue 301) with an awesome 1965 Ford Mustang. You told us back then that your passion was customising cars —and it’s clear to see that it is still burning bright. Tell us about your two Caliber SRT4s…
Thank you for having me back again. I wanted a small, powerful car that I could drive daily and saw some clips of the Caliber SRT4 online. It sure got my attention and soon, I found out that a GCC spec special order SRT4 was available in Muscat, so I jumped on to the first available flight to Oman, checked the car out, and bought it there and then, and drove it back to Dubai.
A year later, I heard there was another one available in Ras Al Khaimah and I couldn’t resist buying it as my first one had made me addicted to this model. Both were Royal Black originally but as I like customising cars I changed the colours of both making them a rather unique pair! I wanted to give them more character and feel I have achieved that.
That’s for sure! Give us all the nitty-gritty details…
Starting with the blue one, it has a turbocharged 2.4-litre, four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual with a heavy duty clutch, a K&N air filter, after market intercooler, and a custom single exhaust system. It has 305bhp and 1.1 bar turbo boost. It can really move in a hurry.
I gave the exterior an Aqua Blue and Inferno Red foil, a full body kit with ventilated bonnet, carbon-fibre front grille, custom projector headlights, custom real carbon-fibre side mirrors, rear diffuser, rear spoiler, LED fog lights, and 19in custom Inferno Red and Royal Black rims. The interior has also been heavily customised; I wrapped the seats, door cards, and ceiling in custom blue and black crocodile leather.
Then I added a turbo boost gauge, turbo timer, custom carbon-fibre dash and gave it a massive sound system with an output power of 137 dB.
This car has won many awards at various events in the UAE, which I am very proud of.
The red one is just as eye-catching, but it’s more potent, too…
Yes, this one is a 2009 SRT4, again with a six-speed manual and heavy duty clutch. It’s gotthe same engine as the blue one (along with a K&N air filter and aftermarket intercooler) but also has a Mopar stage one CPU tune, a custom dual exhaust system, performance spark plugs and therefore a healthier output of 350bhp and 1.5 bar turbo boost. It’s won some trophies in open-day drag races at Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina. It’s a belter.
It looks the part, too; I wrapped it in an Inferno Red and Aqua Blue foil, and then matched it just like the other one so it too has a full body kit, ventilated bonnet, carbon-fibre front grille, custom headlights, LED taillights, carbon-fibre rear diffuser, and custom 19in Aqua Blue and Royal Black Rims. Its interior gets custom red and black crocodile leather for the seats, door cards and ceiling. I also gave it a sound system with 40 GB hard disk and touchscreen.
Howlong did it take you to finish them both?
It took me around seven months for each car. I wanted to take my time to make sure they’re both done to high standards. I plan to sell both and buy a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and a 2013 Chrysler 300C, and customise them. I am already working on my other three cars, two Chrysler PT Cruisers (a convertible and a hard-top) and a Chevrolet Suburban, and plan to get them ready so they can compete in the biggest modified cars and bikes show in the Middle East, Emirates Custom, in Abu Dhabi from March 31 to April 2nd.
If they look anything like your SRT4s you’ll definitely stand a chance! What are they like to drive?
They’re both so much fun and I never get bored of them. They’re like a pair of angry bulls and have so much power — that’s why I call them Los Toros.
Both have manual gearboxes, which makes the drive even more exciting. People think it must be hard to manage them in Dubai traffic but I enjoy driving them more than my automatic cars.
They keep my concentration levels up on the road — and get all sorts of attention, too.
When I’m in either car I notice other drivers slowing down next to me to get a better look and while waiting at the lights I am usually bombarded with questions!
You’ve played tricks on your mates with these cars, haven’t you…
I totally confused two of them! I didn’t tell them that I have two SRT4s and when I showed up with the blue one, they were impressed. Then, the next day, I brought the red one to them and they couldn’t believe their eyes. They were adamant that the car they saw the day before was blue with red stripes — not the other way around. They said it wasn’t possible that I managed to change the colour, the trim, the wheels and the interior in 24 hours. Then, I showed them both cars two weeks later while they were on display at a Mopar Club gathering and they were shocked, to say the least!
Finally, is your dream car still a Bugatti Veyron Mansory edition?
I still wouldn’t say no to that — or indeed a coachbuilt Maybach Coupé. Hmm, I think my tastes must be mellowing a little!