Nestled in a warehouse in Dubai‘s Al Quoz district, Panda Performance was born out of a passion. Well, a passion and a hobby. Owner Moosa Swaidan trained as a civil engineer and started to forge out a career in construction. But fast forward a few more years and the young Syrian, together with his small team of mechanics, now spends his days creating monstrously powerful Mitsubishi Evos and Nissan GT-Rs. How did this happen?
“Tuning all-wheel drive, turbocharged cars was a hobby,” he smiles. “That was the platform I always wanted to work on, but I never really got a chance to actually practice, for many reasons – money, time, experience, trust in shops that could deliver. But when I was at college in the US I started researching everything I could on the subject.”
Once out of college, Moosa worked on a big construction project and was rewarded with a sizable bonus, with which he decided to start his own company. “It was going to be a construction company,” he recalls, “but within a week I decided I wanted to start a performance shop instead. That was the same time that they showed the production GT-R at the end of 2008.”
After 18 months of planning, Panda Performance opened its doors in June 2010, but not before a debate over the name. “I wanted to call the business Monkey Engineering, just as something you could remember. But when I went to register the company the guy started laughing in my face. In Arabic, if someone says they’re going to the Monkey shop, it doesn’t sound good! So I wanted to come up with something strong, but something that everyone likes. And everyone likes Pandas.
“Back then I’d only worked on Evos, starting with my own cars – I’ve owned three – and then with other Evo owners coming to my house, asking me to work on their machines.”