Classic cars, custom cars, Bear Garcia and crankandpiston at SS1 Cars Garage, Dubai, UAE.[Not a valid template]
As a car dude living in the United Arab Emirates, the country confuses and excites me in equal measure. If I am honest, this probably plays a large part in enabling me to get out of bed at a reasonable hour, get out there to explore and uncover the eclectic mix of car culture that exists in the region.
On the surface, you have an affluent population who publicly display their wealth. Bentley bonnets encrusted with diamonds, slow-motion supercars cruising JBR and a gaggle of car spotters hanging around the mall waiting for ‘the one’ to arrive, which it invariably does. This is how the outside world perceive the region and, particularly regarding Dubai, is an accurate description of the surface scene.
Then there is the private collections of awesome stored behind closed doors. Supercars and rare classics, hidden from sight of the regular Joe, which require permission slips to gain entry only to be told “no photo allowed”. Mix in every possible global car movement, due to the diverse cultural make-up of the United Arab Emirates, and you have a giant melting pot of styles and fads that constantly challenge preconceptions of what you may – or may not – consider ‘cool’ or even ‘normal’.
And yet, even knowing all this, I still regularly get caught out. Randomly calling in to premises that purport to be a regular garage can leave me sucking in air like a vacuum cleaner for a few seconds while trying to regain my equilibrium. This happens with alarming regularity. Most recently with SS1 Cars Garage in Dubai.
A few scattered classics sit outside but I wasn’t really expecting it to be an automotive Aladdin’s cave. SS1 Cars Garage is a substantial sized premises in the Al Quoz region of Dubai and yet 95 percent of the floor space is bumper to bumper with a privately owned collection of tasty jalopies. Just sitting there. Waiting.
Moving around the cars proves difficult in itself. I find myself doubling back on occasion and having to recalculate my route through the collected machinery. Porsche 356, three Mercedes-Benz Pagoda, two Cobras under wraps, another Pagoda, an Opel GT, three Minis, another Pagoda and another Opel GT, a Bentley and more Americana than I have the capacity to name. And another Porsche 356.
And then, over in the five percent of available floor space, is Bear Garcia working away on a couple of customer cars. Anyone with access to the Discovery Channel will recognise the name from Street Customs and West Coast Customs. Bear has built cars for Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Shaquille O’Neil, Kobe Bryant, Carroll Shelby and a long list of other clients. And here he is working away on a couple of client cars.
Air-ride suspension is going in to a Wrigley’s 5 Gum van, Burger Fuel are getting a custom Jeep built and a ’67 Mustang Coupe is being converted to a fastback.
Just another day in Dubai, huh?