Welcome to My Wheels, Manju. Your interest in cars began 12 years ago, before that you were keen on bikes right?
That’s true, I used to be an avid biker but when the Bugatti Veyron was launched that’s when my interest in cars really began. I used to go around the used-car shops in Ras Al Khor and check out a lot of cars, especially classic American cars, and I eagerly wanted to own one — I didn’t believe in the modern interpretations, however, when the Charger arrived in 2006 I liked it a lot. But I had to wait a while before I could get it.
My very first car was a Maruti Omni, which used to belong to my dad, I remember the day he handed over the keys to me — and I promptly reversed it into the garage gate!
Admit it, you did it on purpose! You had a few other ‘regular’ cars before you got your Charger didn’t you?
Yes — while I was briefly posted in Tunisia for work, I drove a Renault Megane and then after I got my residency in Dubai, I bought the 2006 Civic, which I drove for six years, and then the unexciting line-up of cars ended with the Dodge, which is without a doubt the best I have driven yet. If I ever had to sell this car, I would get another one — probably the Hellcat.
Are you planning on selling it?
No, but I plan to export my car to India after some time. You can buy Mustangs over there now and I hope my Charger will be the first to hit the streets to challenge the Ford.
I always wanted a Charger, ever since watching films like Bullitt and Blue Velvet. The R/T trim was the one I wanted as it would be my first ever V8. My daughter calls this car Tarzan because of the black stripes.
You were considering a few other models too — why didn’t they make the grade?
I was keen on the Jaguar XF, Ford Edge and Explorer, Honda CRV, and the Toyota FJ Cruiser, but while looking at cars in the DFC Dodge showroom I told a salesman that I was interested in the R/T and his immediate response was, “If you have time, let’s take one out for a spin.” It was a very good sales pitch because after a short test drive, I booked the car, and it has proven to be such a good decision as it is so much fun to drive. In fact, it is pure exhilaration, and the copper paint is rare, too, which makes mine stand out from the crowd.
I love this car so much and I drive it daily. Some of the advice I got from friends before buying it was that it is more of a second car and should be reserved for the weekends. Sorry, but I can’t wait that long — I drive it every day of the week. It’s good in the town and brilliant on the highway. It has so much presence as well; my friends say the front end looks angry when they see it from the rear-view mirror.
It matches those aggressive looks with performance, too. The 5.7-litre churns out 370 horses and it is mated to an automatic gearbox. With just a flick of the paddle on the steering wheel it flexes its muscles and shoots off for the horizon like a bullet. That Hemi is mesmerising. Having studied mechanical engineering, I can really appreciate this motor. I love listening to the exhaust note — that roar pumps you up for the day.
What do you like best about it?
Apart from the engine, the aggressive styling and the side scoops. Also, the LED taillights, they look so cool.
I have to say I am very proud of owning this car. At first, my family and friends would not believe that I purchased it. Dodge isn’t a popular choice for many from my country but I guess I am setting a new standard now. I remember once, while filling the car up at a petrol pump, the attendant said, “Does the owner know you are driving around in his car?”, which I thought was very funny. I answered “no” just to wind him up a little! Then I explained to the chap that I am the owner and we both laughed.
But I wonder how people would react if I bought my dream car — a classic Seventies Charger or Plymouth Barracuda! I have spotted a few in Dubai and I am making plans to buy one. A friend of mine used to have a ’Cuda when he was in the US. We used to chat a lot about American automobiles and this was one of the reasons I got interested in muscle cars.
If you get one of those, call us!
I sure will. A classic car is not just a property to own — it’s an everlasting relationship.