Welcome back to wheels, Elie! The last time we saw you, you showed us your gorgeous, original Y88 Trans Am! Please give us a little update about your fabulous Firebird…

Thank you, it is great to be featured again in wheels magazine.

My Y88 is excellent, it hasn’t required any major service or parts, other than the routine maintenance and oil change. I am waiting for the good weather to start so I can whip the t-tops off and enjoy driving it!

 

We know you have several other Pontiacs too; tell us about each of these classic muscle cars…

Initially I had 12 Trans Ams in the UAE and four in Lebanon, but I have since downsized my collection and now have two back home (both are Special Editions) and five here.

Along with my Y88, I have a beautiful 1980 Turbo Indy Pace car which has been fully restored, a gorgeous 1978 and a 1973 Trans Am. Last but not least I am in the process of restoring a 1979 Y84 black Special Edition.

 

And, we haven’t forgotten that in total you have owned 50 of these cars! From all of these which is your favourite and why?

My favourite is my Y88 in Lebanon, the story behind it could probably take up five issues of wheels but to cut it short, it is one of just 880 Y88 cars (I love gloating over the fact that I have two of these!) with very low mileage (15K miles) and I am just the second owner. The original owner bought it back in 1978 with full options — in fact he was invited to the factory to watch it being assembled. He brought it from California to Lebanon back in 1992 and when I saw it for the first time, my eyes lit up. It is a wonderful example of an original untouched beauty.

I was lucky enough to buy it from him 10 years later and I keep it stored underground and have it serviced regularly.

 

Do you have any plans to get any more of these cars?

The price of these beauties is increasing — as well as their restoration cost. Add to this the fact I haven’t got the space to keep them makes it hard for me to get any other cars, however, nobody knows what will happen in the future — so watch this space as they say!

 

We’re definitely watching! It isn’t just classic American muscle that interests you; you also have a passion for German classics and own one of the most iconic BMW’s ever! Where did you find this lovely, shark-nosed E24 635 CSi?

My father was the first one to bring the E24 to Lebanon before the dealer back in 1976, it was a 633CSi and we still have it back at home. I like the idea of having the first and last versions of a model for example I bought the first C3 Corvette in 1968 and the last one in 1982 and shipped them to the UAE in a 40 foot container.

So, I was looking for a 1989 E24 and a friend of mine had one in RAK. I bought it and then fully restored it from top to bottom. The colour had faded and so it needed a full paint job (the painters forgot to reattach the letter ‘i’ after the ‘CS’ on the boot lid just in case anyone is wondering what happened to it!), the fabric seats had deteriorated and so I replaced these with authentic German leather. I worked on all of the electrical issues of the car and of course replaced all the fluids, changed the tyres, battery and serviced the AC. It took one year to complete. After it was all done, I showed photos of it to my friend whom I bought it from and he genuinely thought it was another E24, and not the one he sold me!

 

You may also like: Rida Katramiz’s 1983 Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo

You may also like: Raymond De Moor’s 1982 Chevrolet El Camino

 

 

You’ve done a fabulous job, it looks great and drives just as well too doesn’t it…

Oh yes, it sure does. The M30 straight-six engine is well known for its performance, smoothness and reliability and the four-speed automatic transmission that it is mated to shifts crisply and precisely. It drives and handles great, not like a brand new car of course but it is wonderful for its age, but then again, it came from an age of quality and durable cars.

 

That’s true, these were built to last. What do you like best about it?

I like the way it drives and handles the most, and also the overall design which was based on the legendary 3.0CS models.

 

It must get a lot of attention from fellow enthusiasts, how does it make you feel when someone gives you a thumbs up when you drive this car?

It feels awesome! I feel great when I see people appreciating my cars — I forget all the pain and hassle I went through with the restoration process not to mention the cost of it all when I see a smile on a person’s face. It makes it all worthwhile.

 

It sure does. Last but not least, tell us about your German classics back home in Lebanon…

I have five Mercedes 180 Pontons, a 1964 Mercedes 220seb coupe, and two BMW 2002 Tourings.

Some people don’t like the design of the 2002 Touring, but for others this was a great looking car! They were made in very small numbers, sometimes just 300 or so per year which makes them far more valuable than the regular 2002s — except for the Turbo.

I am also restoring a 1960 Mercedes 190b, a fine example of a 40k original mile, one owner car. I look forward to having it featured in this lovely magazine once it’s all done.

 

Got a hot ride? Email us at mywheels@gulfnews.com with a photo and description and you could be our next my wheels star!