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Going back in time in Oman with vintage cars
January 31, 2018 | 4:41 PM
by Salim Afifi
 
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There is something alluring about classic cars that surpass our pro-modern creations. These brawny beasts carry a reminiscent of a time passed blended with hints of a cool-kid swagger.

I’ve never been a hardcore fan of classic rides until last year when I visited a car show dedicated to showcasing these beauties. I fell in love almost immediately as euphoric vibes occupied the space. It felt as if I stepped into a time machine and travelled back to the age of symmetric, odd-looking vintage cars. Between the rare lookers of the late 1920s and the roaring engines of the 1970s laid an elegant-yet-masculine beauty born in 1986, the classic and Hollywood favourite: Ford Mustang GT500, dyed in an icy blue colour and adorned with chrome wheels. My love-at-first-sight situation ended when I overloaded my camera with photographs that will sure be made into a poster. It was that beautiful.



As I put my fascination on hold, I realised that the event brought out tonnes of car enthusiasts in a space what seemed like a full house. It was a carnival for the classics, celebrated by a group of car followers who admire these monstrous drive. After having a quick chat with some of the owners, I came to find out that the culture has grown in the past five years, thanks to car shows and gatherings that take place in different parts of the city, which are organised by Oman Automobile Association and Oman Classic Car Club. There’s no doubt that the culture is slowly becoming a humongous one, here in the Sultanate. “Car shows play an important role in celebrating and introducing this culture to the people” said Sultan Al Mawali, one of the classic cars owner.


As I strolled around the show, I eyed few cars that were familiar like Mercedes Benz (a massive line of these rides were stretched across the field), Jaguars, and Porsche, but what stunned me the most in the world of classics were the American muscle cars (of course, I couldn’t get that icy blue ‘stang out of my head), which include Fords, Chevys, and Dodges, among other brands.

Classic car aficionado and collector Sultan Al Mawali, who owns a 1979 Pontiac Trans-M and a 1983 Zimmer Golden Spirit (An American brand re-produced by Ford), young locals have become fans of classics owing to their rarity in the streets of Muscat. Just like fashion, you wouldn’t want to see someone wearing the same ensemble as you. It applied to cars too. It’s an aspiration to many folks to own a unique looking car. “Most people see classic cars on TV, but when they spot one in real life they become amazed,” said Sultan.



Another collector I had the pleasure to meet was Elias Al Zadjali from Oman Classic Car Club who owns a number of pristine, rare vehicles such as the Ford Model T from the early 20th century, the 1934 Cadillac 355D, and the eye-catching 1927 Bugatti Type 35B.

The ever-growing phenomenon is kicking harder in neighbouring countries like the United Arab Emirates, where they have annual shows, museums, and a variety of relevant events that keep the followers hooked and fuelled for true classic experience. Events such as the Emirates Classic Car Festival in Downtown Dubai, where you would see cars dated as old as 1920. And, for museum goers, The Emirates National Auto Museum has a private collection of classic beauties of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan’s (a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family), which include super trucks, military Jeeps, and ultra-rare automobiles. Sharjah Classic Cars Museum also deserves a visit when you’re in the country; it has motorbikes that date back to the early 20th century — how cool.

So now that we know that the culture is taking the Gulf by storm, what makes these cars special? Well, they look absolutely elegant and full of character and personality, too. You may be compromising on comfort but you sure got style locked down, serving you plenty of attention and wanted conversations.



Another aspect that gives an edge to owning these head-turners is the driving experience. Those of us who’ve never driven a classic car will not understand the unique flavour it lends to the ride, from roaring engine noises and vibrations, to being the actual active driver of the machine, literally.

Although it sounds great and a dream-come-true to many classic car lovers, but owning such cars come with a bank-breaking cost. Sometimes, their price tags are double the price of a modern car from the same category, and may require the driver to be acquainted with the car from the inside out, as it will call for a tremendous amount of care. But make no mistake, it’s an investment worth taking.

As the culture continues to grow here in Oman, we will sure be seeing classic car around town in no time. If you are a driver-at-heart and dedicated to taking care of your car, then this is something you might want to consider. Giving your drive a memorable edge over the rest of the lookalike cars. Let me know if you spot a 1968 Mustang, It’s a beast I dream to own, seriously.

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