We check out three customised rides and speak to an expert
From cherry-red lane-hogging Hummers or Swarovski-coated Mercedes convertibles to souped-up old-school American hot rods, Dubai is certainly no place for modesty when it comes to customising cars. No surprise, then, that Dubai hosts a trade show dedicated entirely to the hobby. The three-day Automechanika Middle East event (www.automechanikame.com) kicks off on Tuesday May 22 at Dubai Convention and Exhibition Centre, bringing together 1,300 exhibitors specialising in automobile parts, equipment, components, accessories and services.
Although this is an industry event, car culture is an essential part of the UAE lifestyle day to day: the UAE’s automotive parts industry was worth almost Dhs37 billion last year alone, according to Dubai Customs. Want to get in on the action? There are plenty of places to customise your ride in the city, and a stroll down The Walk at JBR at the weekend will usually yield plenty of inspiration for your next car project. Here we get behind the wheel of three customised cars and chat to the people responsible for these mechanical makeovers.
The Hummer The technician: Ali ‘Diablo’ Thani, 30, Emirati.
Model: 2008 Hummer H2 SUV. ‘The first stage in this makeover was to replace all the car’s parts to give it the “bling” factor. The Hummer’s stock wheels are 16 to 17 inches; we put in 28-inch wheels. We changed all the accessories and added chrome parts, then we modified the engine because the big wheels need more power. Inside we changed the seats, added red aluminium floor mats and installed a TV – we even made it smell like cherries.
‘The owner of the car now wants it to be the best Hummer in Dubai. It’s is an ongoing process: we’re hoping to finish it in the next three months. We’re planning to add air suspension, a full sound system and cameras everywhere to make it even more extreme.’
Total makeover cost: The owner has already spent Dhs100,000. By the end of the project, the total will be almost Dhs200,000.
The Corvette The technician: Ali ‘Diablo’ Thani, 30, Emirati.
Model: 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. ‘We changed the whole body on this car – the front bumper, the back bumper, four fenders, side skirts and the rear wing. We also changed the wheels: the original rear Corvette wheels are 13 inches wide, and these are now 14 inches. ‘This Corvette has a unique body kit [exterior] and a different style from the others. We have a lot of ’Vettes here in Dubai with normal spoilers and everything, but this is the first Corvette with this kind of body kit.’
The Camaro The owner: Hassan ‘The Guyver’, 24, Emirati.
Model: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS. ‘This Camaro is fully customised: I wanted to build something unique that nobody has here. I wanted it to be the best Camaro on the street in Dubai. The body shop changed the whole body kit except the doors and the roof. They made modifications to the front bumper and back bumper, and they extended the back fender four inches and the front fender two inches. This is a big project car and it took about five months to build. ‘It’s the first of its kind in the world. We call this car “The Evil Bumblebee”. Everyone knows Bumblebee from Transformers, so we built this car to challenge it. We named it “The Guyver edition” – The Guyver is a manga-style film about an alien-hybrid super-soldier. The body is lightweight and it has big rims. The mechanics didn’t touch the engine, but they added small performance parts, because safety is first on the street.’
Total makeover: Dhs85,000 to build the whole kit, with paint, wheels and exhaust.
Three to try: local body shops Chrome and Carbon This Al Quoz-based body shop specialises in facelifts and customisations for American, Italian, German and Japanese cars. Street 17A, warehouse 65, Al Quoz 1, take the first left behind the Dubai Garden Centre towards Mall of the Emirates (04 347 7693).
Panda Performance A top-of-the-range body shop specialising in race car preparation and the running of high-end sports cars. Warehouse 6, 381 Road, behind Grand Mall, Al Quoz 1: heading south on Sheikh Zayed Road, take the Times Square exit and go left at the second signal (04 341 5776).
West Coast Customs The original car customisation workshop from the US (and star of its own MTV reality show) now has its own franchise in Dubai. Street 17A, Al Quoz 1, behind Times Square Centre (04 347 2888).