“In 2008, we started focusing on new cars in the market that were very popular with our customers. Like the new Land Cruiser. It was a new shape and new engine, and many customers who bought this new car couldn’t get hold of the parts. So I bought a new Land Cruiser, brought it to garage and we stripped it completely. I sent the parts to our contacts in America, we got new parts back and I built a whole new engine with 900whp. We started racing that too at the drag tracks and immediately people wanted one of their own!
“And then there was the Nissan GTR. When that first arrived, we knew it was going to be in high demand here. So we went out and found specialists who knew the GTR engine, we brought them to Dubai, and our guys were given training directly. In 2009, Datsun Motorsports was doing all the gearbox tuning for the GTR and nobody knew how to fix the gearbox, so that was a big draw for us.”
Mid-sentence Rashed’s phone chirrups, and he apologetically smiles. The ensuing 10 seconds gives me a good opportunity to check out the impressive arsenal surrounding us in the shop. Methanol race fuel for instance is stacked in drums next to us, a sight rare enough in itself to warrant a grin. Clearly amused, Rashed explains that this wasn’t always the case at Sub Zero.
“We started in the beginning with parts and engine building, and the dyno tuning. Then we developed the welding department: when we started we had one guy in the welding department, and now we have ten. Then there was the painting shop, the chassis shop, and then all the accessories too. To do something in high quality, you need to spend big money.”
Hardly a revelation, but this last sentence has tweaked my interest. crankandpiston’s Garage Visits of old tend to include a certain philosophy: ‘we charge what we charge, but it’s because we deliver quality’. Clearly it’s much the same at Sub Zero too, a topic which Rashed does not shy away from.
“There are people who say that ‘Sub Zero is expensive’, but compared to other garages we are actually quite cheap. Labour charges for instance we are quite cheap. Parts we are cheap. But we are selling high performance products, and you can’t get high quality high performance cheaply. You could buy a conrod from a company in China for example or wherever for $500-$1000: you’ll get the product, but it probably won’t last. But when you work with CP-Canillo, yes it costs a little more from the factory – $1200 – but you’re then working with an international company in America that has the experience and produces good the quality. So that’s the difference. And that’s why we stock them.
“With a performance shop, you can’t make big money. Always whatever I earn I put back into the business. I just like helping people get their cars done.”
Despite the sheer size of the facility, which houses 65 employees, there’s no sense of slowing down. Indeed, already Rashed has finalised a deal to open a larger property on the outskirts of Dubai in an effort to make his store more accessible to other cities in the UAE. And that’s not all.
“We’ve started new premises in a very good location, which will connect us with all the cities in the UAE. I have already two properties over there, which will be joined together. So that facility will be double the size of the workshop we have already: around 60,000 sq-ft. Plus it will be double-storey, which means we’ll have offices and a showroom as well as the workshop. We’re also going to get another engine dyno, which will register 2000hp-plus. We’re hoping to have a big training room. I’m more than happy to teach people for free how to use our dyno if it means we keep their business. And you know that in the world, nobody gives anything for free anymore!”
That certainly would be a first.