Welcome to wheels Salwa. It is wonderful to see an Emirati lady with an interest in classic cars — but how did this passion begin?
Thank you for featuring me in wheels magazine! Well, I was raised by the late Sheikha Moza Bint Saeed Al Maktoum — the sister of the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Founder of Dubai — and therefore I had the luxury of getting rides in many antique and classic cars. This is how my passion for these cars began. I remember vividly rides to school and weekend drives to our farmhouse in several classics, it brings back so many nostalgic memories today.
They are wonderful memories, you must always cherish them. Let’s talk about your 1979 Buick Electra, a model which was downsized thanks to the 1973 energy crisis but is still big and comfy — how long have you had this?
This one is rather new to my collection, I was able to source it locally. It was in decent condition and had been maintained well by the previous owner.
These fifth-generation luxury saloons came fully loaded back in the day. It is also well known that back then, General Motors did lots of mixing-and-matching with engines from its various divisions. You could buy an Oldsmobile 88 with a Chevy 350 V8, a Chevy Monza with a Buick 231 V6 and in this case a Buick Electra with an Oldsmobile 350 V8. It made 155bhp and ran buttery smooth. In fact even today, you can hardly tell the motor is idling! Once I bought it I had it fully wrapped with the metallic sky blue colour you see now.
Is it as good to drive as it looks?
It is like cruising on a ship with that huge body and luxury interior! It really is an enjoyable experience driving down the road in this car. It is so comfortable that it helps me to relax.
Moving on to something sportier, your Fox-body 1992 Ford Mustang looks pretty tasty!
I love this one. It was imported from the US and its original colour was red which I was never too keen on and so I changed it to yellow and I believe this suits the character of this car a lot more. It needed a full restoration and I went through this car from front to back to get in the condition it is in now. In fact when it arrived in the UAE and was parked outside my villa, my mother thought it was scrap and was about to call the Dubai Municipality to have it removed!
Good job you stopped her! What do you like best about it?
Its clean and simple design and the fact it was the only Mustang iteration that was a complete stylistic break from the others. You won’t find a running horse in the grille, or a C-shaped indentation in the flanks and the taillights are not in three segments. I would say this is Mustang really was unique.
It also has the 5.0-litre V8 mated to a five-speed manual which makes it really fun to drive. It still has plenty of power to burn down the tyres when asked!
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It is one of the most enduring muscle car icons — as is your 1994 Pontiac Trans Am! This one has a 5.7-litre V8 and looks mean with that all-black exterior…
Yes it has a menacing look to it, especially with the taillights blacked out and the black wheels too. But the gold eagle offsets that a little while the interior was re-trimmed with a black and red combination.
I have spent a lot of time and effort in getting this one looking in perfect shape and it is a joy to drive — especially with the T-tops off during winter.
Last but not least to your 1995 Chevy Tahoe three-door — where did you pick this rare truck up from?
It was imported from Japan two years ago and apart from having the body wrapped in a Sea Blue colour, the rest of it is in all original condition. It is a real pleasure to drive on the weekends, but I spare it only for the weekends. It has a potent V8 and with all-wheel drive making it a very capable off-roader able to conquer any terrain.
From all of your cars which is your favourite?
I guess it depends on which mood I am, I have two that are pretty potent (the Mustang and Trans Am) and another two that afford a more relaxed commute.
I love all four equally but the Buick has the most sentimental value and brings back memories of my childhood and those rides to our farmhouse.
Are they easy to maintain?
They are easy to work on but they take up a lot of my time — you need to be really patient with these cars, and I am not! It also often takes weeks for parts to arrive from the US which is quite frustrating.
Maintaining and restoring these cars was quite costly too but then I had an idea to open my own workshop and now I have a team who are dedicated to maintaining all of these cars.
That was a very smart move! How proud do you feel to own these cars?
I feel good to own these cars and I guess the passion continues. They always get a nice reaction from people, it’s either always a thumbs up, a big smile — or the smartphones come out!
Finally, what is your dream car?
Rolls Royce Cullinan.