Supercar hunting in Dubai

DSC_0319Dubai is known the world over as a hotbed of supercars and vehicles of the mega rich. Whilst the country officially claims that just 6% of GDP comes from oil revenues, one look at the place seems to suggest otherwise. I guess it’s all in the accounting.

DSC_0313Whatever the case, its still fun to walk around camera in hand, and see what you find. I had a 12 hour stopover in Dubai the other day, so with stories of the legendary abandoned Ferrari Enzo fresh in my mind I decided to head out and see what I could find.

DSC_0085Other than a passing McLaren MP4-12C, there wasn’t a whole lot happening this particular Tuesday morning so I decided to visit a few dealerships I’d spotted from the train. I ended up walking for over 2 hours, which I can tell you isn’t a lot of fun in the Dubai heat.

DSC_0104Used supercar dealers in Dubai look different than ours. Housed in regular buildings in industrial estates alongside other businesses selling taps, sticker vinyl or motorbikes, it was sometimes surprising as a look through an otherwise unassuming window would reveal a Rolls Royce Phantom poking out.

DSC_0091DSC_0086DSC_0083The glare was so bad on the windows of ‘Exotic Cars’ that I almost walked right past this place!

DSC_0095They had some fairly new stock too – the new Aston Martin Vanquish is only just released.

DSC_0053Just around the corner was the Middle East distributor of Hamann goodies. Unfortunately they were closed, but they still had some fairly ‘interesting’ display cars on the floor.

DSC_0054Some kind of new BMW, I take it?

DSC_0057The McLaren Mercedes SLR. I wonder what Ron Dennis would think of this?

DSC_0051Needing a quick reprise from the heat, I popped into the arcticly air-conditioned BMW showroom to cool down. It was just like every other BMW dealer… except for the golf driving range simulator in the middle of the showroom? Because Dubai.

DSC_0047Just down the road was another tuner, offering 24 carat gold plated big brake kits.

DSC_0048And yes, that is a Cosworth branded Range Rover Sport. I wonder what Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth would think of this?

DSC_0028DSC_0029Just around the corner was this brand new release Maserati Quattroporte. I don’t know how long these have been out, but I only saw the first few press release photos a few weeks ago.

DSC_0013Not only are there supercars to discover, but whole new brands you’ve never heard of!

DSC_0277Dubai is a bit of an odd city for my tastes. It’s lacking the street atmosphere of somewhere like Melbourne or Adelaide, and there’s literally nothing happening outside. Sometimes the area in front of the sky scrapers is just left as plain desert sand, other times it morphs into construction wasteland. It all looks rather bitty. But its so hot during the day that nobody dares venture outdoors.

DSC_0203Dripping with sweat, I decided to head indoors to the Dubai Mall, and headed for the giant Sega Republic indoor theme park. And that’s where I discovered possibly the most awesome thing I’ve seen: it’s the Initial D arcade game, but you sit in actual cars!

DSC_0222The steering wheel and pedals are the same as you’d find in a regular arcade console…

DSC_0224… as is the gearshift.

DSC_0212However the cars are mounted on hydraulic tables and pivot and rotate as your driving. I wouldn’t call it a completely natural experience, but it’s a damn load of fun! And at only 25 dirhams a go (a touch over AUD$7), it’s cheap enough to have some fun with.

DSC_0199For the purposes of research, and only research, I felt it my duty to try all the cars. First was the Toyota AE86, in full panda Trueno livery with Takumi characters on the drivers door.

DSC_0200Next was the Skyline R32 GTR…

DSC_0242… a genuine V Spec II model on real deal Work Meister rims!

DSC_0237It even had a real Nismo gauge cluster!

DSC_0206The final car is a Subaru STi Type R Coupe, which was my favorite to drive. The steering on the Subie was a little heavier than the others which felt a little more realistic…

DSC_0248… plus it was super cool looking out over that bonnet scoop.

DSC_0230The cars were all fitted with Defi tacho’s displaying revs in the game.

DSC_0254A little further down the mall and I found this 24 carat gold plated Prancing Horse statue. There was no listed price, but the shop also sold $14,000 model cars so I guess that’s some indication.

DSC_0353One the sun starts to set, the temperature cools off and everyone comes out. And so did the cars.

DSC_0170It’s almost a bit of a shame really, because all of these cars are simply owned as status symbols. There’s only mostly straight roads in Dubai so there’s nowhere to properly exercise these cars, so most of the time they sit in car parks or are paraded around.

DSC_0307At least the owner of this Aventador saw me with my camera and gave it a decent blip as he took off, once his wife/partner/friend had clambered in the scissor door.

DSC_0018DSC_0022The blue is a wrap, and a pretty poor one at that.

DSC_0026DSC_0103DSC_0077DSC_0078The only classic I saw.

DSC_0081DSC_0164DSC_0263DSC_0302DSC_0310DSC_0315DSC_0321DSC_0322A pretty poor photo, but that’s the first time I’ve seen a BMW Z8, let alone one in the wild.

DSC_0328DSC_0338DSC_0326DSC_0332DSC_0350DSC_0378DSC_0375So there you have it, a Tuesday worth of hunting in Dubai. I wonder what it would be like on a Saturday?

Words and photos by Andrew Coles

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