Welcome to My Wheels, Matias. You consider yourself a bit of a petrolhead, don’t you?
Yes, I love cars and find nothing better than being behind the wheel. I also really like motorbikes and own a 2001 Kawasaki Ninja GPZ 400R. It was a dream come true for me when I bought that in 2004 and it’s really enjoyable driving on twisty roads back home.
I also enjoy discovering new roads all over the UAE and there are some fab blacktops if you’re prepared to look for them. But fast cars really do it for me; I love speed but I only push the limits on the safety of a track.
Glad to hear it. How did your passion for motoring begin?
Back home, my father owns a trucking company — it’s been the family business ever since I can remember. So at an early age, I was exposed to all sorts of trucks and cars. In fact, I learned to drive at the age of 14. Now when I go home on vacation, I often need to drive a truck when there are no drivers available or if there are urgent calls from our clients.
I have a category 1, 2 and 3 Philippine driver’s licence, which means I can drive motorcycles/motorised tricycles, vehicles up to 4,500kg and vehicles above 4,500kg. I’ve got to say, the trucks are a lot of fun.
That’s pretty impressive. Tell us about your first car, what was it?
It was a 2007 Chevrolet Epica that I bought when I used to work in Qatar. It was basically a family car, very easy to maintain and affordable to run. When I moved to the UAE in 2008, I bought my friend’s well-maintained eight-month old Toyota Prado.
Then your wife got her driver’s licence and you needed a second car. So you got Bumblebee from Transformers it seems!
Unfortunately, it isn’t the exact same specs; it doesn’t transform into Bumblebee! When I saw that movie a few years ago, I told myself that one day I am going to own a car just like it.
True to your word, you did. Was it really
the movie that inspired you to own a
fifth-generation Camaro or have you
always been a fan of these Chevys?
I always liked the Camaro but hadn’t ever really considered buying one until I saw the movie. So I guess the reason for getting it was down to the flick. One of the things I liked about these cars was the eye-catching exterior. It looked very masculine and powerful and I like that in a car. It has lots of presence.
It’s an amazing and totally different experience, owning a car like this.
Thanks to a bit of DIY, it stands out a lot more. Tell us what you’ve done to it.
I bought and fixed the interior trim myself and added rally stripes, which I bought from the US, to the sides of the car. Next up, I plan to upgrade the brakes, wheels, tyres and add ‘halo’ headlights and maybe some ambient interior lighting too.
It’ll look great with all those additions. Does it drive as good as it looks?
Oh yes. But I am planning to upgrade this for another Camaro with a V8. I have my eye on the 6.2-litre, 580bhp ZL1.
We’ve driven that — it’s a heck of a car.
You’ll be very happy. So the V6 in yours doesn’t quite cut it for you?
The 3.6-litre V6 is good and produces 323bhp and 377Nm of torque. But obviously it’s just not as exciting as the V8 models.
Regardless, it still manages to make you smile, doesn’t it?
Oh, absolutely; I just turn the key and I begin to grin. It’s amazing and it feels like a new experience every time I drive it, which is daily, but I keep it for short bursts while my Prado gets more of a workout. That’s the workhorse while the Camaro provides the fun. My friends and family really like it, while it’s not too often you see a Kabayan driving a Camaro!
It’s a muscle car and designed to be driven hard. Do you ever take it on the track?
Yes, I drove it around Yas Marina Circuit last November and it was an absolute blast. I touched some dizzying speeds, I can tell you. I also drag raced it with some fellow members of the UAE Camaro club. But on the road it’s just as enjoyable cruising around, while I really enjoy taking it up Jebel Hafeet. I am planning to take it back to Yas later this year.
Is visibility a problem since it features a letterbox-like windshield? And has it given you any scares since ownership?
There are some blind spots but when you are a good driver, it doesn’t really affect you too much. I’ve only had one problem thus far; about six months after I bought it, there was a problem with the AC. The evaporator was damaged; I guess it was a factory defect. I changed it and thankfully, everything else has been fine.