Welcome back to My Wheels, Manjeet. The last time we saw you, you had a Tahoe Z71 and a pretty tasty Harley-Davidson Fatboy CVO. Still got them?
Yes I do, in fact, my stable has seen the addition of three more Harleys; a 1933 VLE, a 1942 WLA, and a 2014 Harley-Davidson Limited CVO.
And you’ve picked up a really cool C3 Corvette. How did you come across this Chevy?
Like most avid car enthusiasts in Dubai, I spend a few minutes each day browsing through the wheels available for sale in the UAE. One fine afternoon I found it online. It had just arrived in the UAE and was yet to be registered. It has had two owners before me and has spent most of its life in Texas, US.
This was one of your dream cars, right?
Indeed, a Corvette Stingray C3 (especially a 1968-72 model) was always a dream car of mine and when I saw this for sale it sure deserved a phone call. Not that I was in the market for a car. In some ways, I have always been an impulsive buyer who follows his heart. That very afternoon, I drove straight to Abu Dhabi to check it out and I snapped it up not long after that. It’s been mine now for 16 months.
It needed a little TLC didn’t it?
When I picked it up, it didn’t run well and had numerous issues. It spent weeks at Bin Hamoodah Auto’s workshop in Mussafah where my good friends really took care of the major issues. The undercarriage was stripped and sent for sand blasting before painting and reinstallation. We changed all of the suspension bushings and shocks. The fuel tank was cleaned and coated for protection from the inside. We installed a bigger radiator with dual electric fans to tackle the heat of our region, which led to replacing the stock alternator with a higher capacity alternator that could cope with the hungry new fans. The exhaust system was repaired, the clutch was upgraded including the pressure plate and flywheel. The brakes were serviced along with the window mechanism and we installed a heat shield on the floor and laid new carpet. The dash clock was also replaced. The distributor and carb had to be sent to the US to a specialist for complete refurbishment and performance tuning. The original radio was also shipped to the States to have it fixed, and once the car was back here I changed the seat cushions and re-skinned them with period correct material purchased from the US and installed new door panels that matched the originals. There were numerous other minor jobs that were carried out before finally giving it some generous coats of Carnauba wax and it was ready to ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’.
It looks great now — and it isn’t too often you see these with the four-speed manual...
I have been driving automatic cars for 10 years now. However, I must admit, the joy that this car and the stick shift brings is priceless. Every time I get behind the wheel I feel like a racing driver. Not that I drive it hard or rash but the pleasure of down shifting and the ability to max the revs in each gear before shifting to the next is something that I so enjoy. I am now also driving a 2017 Z06, which again, is equipped with a manual gearbox and a cool ‘Rev Match’ feature that takes driving a manual to the next level. But the best car I have ever driven has to be the Holden Efijy concept car. Honestly, I was scared to get in it as it is so special and expensive. I’ve also sat in the Cadillac Sixteen — another concept. As for my C3, I drive it once a week to work, and on weekends I try to take it out for a long spin. Usually, I end up going to Hatta or Fujairah through the back roads and mountains.
Tell us about the big 350 V8 under that voluptuous bonnet...
It pumps out 255 horses and even though it may seem low by today’s standards, it was quite powerful back in the early Seventies, especially when married to a four-speed Muncie transmission. When I picked up the car, the first thing I did was run a compression test. I was extremely happy with the results. This baby does not shy away from burning rubber when the pedal meets the metal and I must say I feel blessed to own it.
It gets a lot of attention, doesn’t it...
Nine times out of 10 when I pull into a petrol station, I tend to get compliments and people requesting to take pictures. All I do is get out of the shot and see the smiles on their faces. These are the times when you feel that it is worth every last dirham and the countless hours spent.
What do you like best about it and why?
1972 was the last year for the chrome front bumpers, side bright “egg crate” grills, and the removable rear window, so these are my favourite features. I love driving it with the T-Tops off and the rear window stored in the storage tray within the car. The designers must have spent a lot of time on the drawing board as this model is packed with cool features, such as the headlights that pop out only once you pull the headlight switch, while the wipers are hidden when not in use to give it a clean look. These may sound ordinary today but once again just imagine a car with such options being built in the Seventies. It was surely ahead of its time.
Now that you have one of your dream cars, what else would you dearly love to own?
A Hummer H1 SUT, which is a civilian off-road vehicle based on the M998 Humvee. My friend has one and I was able to drive it for a week. It was such a thrill.