Car culture enthusiasts from all walks of life have largely the same mentality: they pay tribute to the automobile in some way or another. What do you guys do? Of course you visit Speedhunters and read about the cars you love, but what else? Buy posters and plaster them on your walls? I personally collect miniatures scale models of the cars that I love and dream of eventually owning one day. Well Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan is a car fanatic, but instead of collecting miniatures he builds monuments to his favorite vehicles. He then houses them in his personal pyramid-shaped garage, which is open to the public for people like you and me to enjoy.
This is the Emirates National Auto Museum, located in the desert 45 minutes outside of Abu Dhabi.
Right off the bat it’s clear that this isn’t going to be any ordinary car collection. This globe is actually a nine-bedroom, nine-bathroom caravan. I don’t think the roads are wide enough for this to be useful at all, but it sure is cool looking.
Right next to it was a vehicle right out of Star Wars. It immediately reminded me of the Sand Crawler used by the Jawas.
This is the largest caravan in the world. I can’t imagine what is needed to pull this thing around. It is just so cool.
Here’s some more Star Wars protruding out of this thing. Doesn’t that look like the landing gear from the Millennium Falcon?
Here is an idea of how big the caravan actually is. That is my friend Aymin, and he nearly pulled a hernia trying to move this thing.
Check out the axle: pretty heavy duty if you ask me.
That suspension strut is larger than my entire body.
And how about the heavy-duty valve stem on this monster. It must take days to change one tire.
After spending quite a bit of time outside we figured it could only get crazier inside. Well, the first car you see when you walk in is a Ford Model-T. I think this is a must for any serious car collection and this one was restored to near mint condition.
The elephant in the room was in the form of a Dodge Power Wagon. No matter how hard we tried we could not stop staring at it – but there were hundreds of cars that were just begging to be prodded and poked.
In front of the behemoth was this eight-wheel drive Nissan Patrol. This was the car of choice as it is great for driving around the sand dunes. I guess too much traction is never a bad thing.
Just to give you guys a scale of the Power Wagon they parked a regular little Datsun pickup underneath it.
The pickup was super clean and fully restored; in fact I don’t think I have ever seen a cleaner example of this truck.
Sheikh Hamad built this 50-ton Dodge Power Wagon as a tribute to his favorite truck, because the UAE got a kickstart from this hard-working truck when they first discovered oil in the late 1950s.
It is eight times the size of the original Power Wagon and large enough for standard cars to drive under without a problem. In fact I could stand up completely straight under it.
In front was a perfectly restored normal-size Dodge Power Wagon, which looked like it had just rolled off the factory floor. So the actual truck has a winch in the front.
The larger version had three air conditioning units.
Just check out the massive tires – they have been supporting this truck for almost 20 years.
The wheels are from an oil rig transport. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas.
The massive brakes stop this truck from its top speed of 40kph.
So what was inside this thing? Well there was a set of stairs that led into the cab.
Inside was a lavish apartment from the ’90s.
There were some pink stairs that led up to the second floor, so as always I continued exploring.
On the second floor where the cab would be was the master bedroom. You can see the windshield right behind the headboard of the bed. Behind me was a balcony that led to the outside of the truck bed.
I went back down to the first floor to find the bathroom. There was a Western-style toilet as well as something you would find in mainland China and Japan: AKA ‘the squatter’.
There was even a kitchen with a working stove and faucet equipped with a hot water heater.
This was even a room for the kids. In total this mobile villa had four bedrooms.
This was the living room. I can only imagine the important deals that were made in this very room.
If I showed anyone the photos of the interior they would not believe that it was inside a pickup truck. My mind was blown. If you opened the sliding glass door from the living room you found the tailgate.
Where the engine would normally be was another bedroom, which looked like it had a working fireplace.
So where does the driver sit? Well I was wondering the same thing when I was inside of the thing. I figured there would be a huge command center like in a submarine or an aircraft carrier. Actually the driver sits below the truck in a cage at the rear that also houses the engine, which is just an inline-six Dodge diesel putting out 300 horsepower. The unit was being restored so I could not grab any pictures, but it’s cool to know this thing actually drives.
All the other trucks in Sheikh Hamad’s collection looked tiny in comparison.
Although they were still very cool and as always were perfect copies of that truck.
The thing that I had to keep reminding myself was the fact that this was a real garage, because all of these cars looked like they were in running order.
They were either kept brand new from the factory…
…or they were restored to perfection.
I am not sure of the origin of this 1889 Mercedes, as it may or may not be a replica, but all of the other cars in the collection are authentic so I am assuming this one is real.
Sheikh Hamad seemed to have a thing for American cars. Just check out this cherry 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer. I have never even seen this car before.
Many of them are classic, but like all of the other cars in his collection they are restored and modified to his liking. Check out this super squeaky-clean 1950 Chevy 3100.
And close by was the Ford counterpart; this F3 was also from 1950.
But just as I thought I had the Sheik’s mindset figured out he would throw me a curveball.
The collection was all over the place in terms of car selection. There was no rhyme or reason why there was a particular car present.
He simply just liked them. Just check out this brand new 280ZX: it was perfect inside and out, like a time capsule from the ’80s.
Many of the cars were given to the Sheikh as gifts, so that may explain some of the more out-of-place cars like this Maserati.
Some of them have historical significance. This 1963 Rolls Royce Phantom 6 was last used as a personal transport for Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Dubai in 1979.
Some of the cars were very iconic, but also very common. This was a brand new New York City taxi. It even had the window sticker still on it. When I ride in these I try taking up as little buttock space as possible, as they usually smell of body odor.
This was a sight that I try to avoid, as I have had many friendly encounters with the CHiPS.
Sheikh Hamad is known for his love of Mercedes. I didn’t even know this exsisted, but it is a 1983 Mercedes 1000SEL. Does this mean it had a 10-liter engine? No, it is just a modified 560SEL. Mercedes never actually made a 1000SEL: these were modified by shops in Germany and were supposedly twice as good as the 500 SEL – hence the name 1000SEL.
He also had an S-class for every day of the week, which were all different colors.
There were also a few military vehicles; this was a 1972 Land Rover Shortland.
Every car collector needs armored personnel vehicles in their collection.
There were also a few concept cars that were made in Dubai, like this electric vehicle from the future.
The tires it was running were from the future as well.
I was beginning to see a trend… It seemed that the Sheikh really was a Star Wars fan.
This VW Euro van had the wildest Star Wars mural. It looked to me like there was a little something from Episodes 4 to 6.
There were some absolutely outrageously rare cars like this Lamborghini SUV, but what blew my mind was something parked just a few meters away…
It was this completely standard Chevy Blazer. I had some fond memories of this car from high school, when my friend would take his parents’ Blazer out and we would go cruising, but I never thought one would end up in an auto museum.
Things went back to ‘normal’, as a few more rows down was this 4×4 Mercedes E-class. I bet this would be so fun to drive around town.
I didn’t think anyone would want to be seen in the Suzuki Samurai over here in the Middle East, but apparently they’re very sought after. Lightweight and all-wheel drive, it was perfect for driving on the sand dunes.
If I had to guess what Sheikh Hamad’s second favorite car was I would have to say it was the Willys Jeep. Why, you ask?
Because there was a 4:1 scale version outside behind the pyramid.
Just check out the massive hardware and those huge calipers. Like the Dodge Power Wagon this thing actually drives!
To top it all off, next to the scale jeep was an abandoned passenger jet-liner.
They are eventually planning on turning it into a themed hotel…
…but till then it will be a nice nesting place for the local birds.
After seeing Sheikh Hamad’s car collection I have come to the conclusion that he would be an awesome car enthusiast to hang out with. However, it makes me wonder what sort of cars he has at his underground garage in the royal palace…
Larry you missed out the brand new W140 600 S - Class round the back, I have plotted on how how to steal it many times :P. There's also an old g wagon with an tire pressure system like Hummer's ctis that he designed before hummer released theirs. A real car nut :) and to the the haters, that isn't a picture of him, thats the late sheikh who built the country from the ground up, what makes you think he doesn't donate generously,,, and thank god this collection is open to the public... for free :) Happy speed hunting Larry and thanks for the share
Woah, this was definitely different and a joy to read! I love that big a$$ Dodge truck, it's just ludicrous!
Those huge trailers, truck and jeep are something between awesome and weird. My favorite is the 4×4 Mercedes E-class, it's classy and rough at the same time.
Mean while, some kid at an autocross is driving a bone stock pick up truck harder pound for pound than this guy drives his super cars. Yay for being admired for material possessions and oil money dad handed to you as opposed to what your cars were built for. I hope one day I make enough money to hang a banner of my face in an auditorium while people marvel at my speed machines as they sit idle in a warehouse. Saaaarcaaaasm.
Lets be brutally honest, theres nothing special about this mans collection. If any of us had oil money we would have a collection this size being featured on magazines or TV shows. Long live legends like Ayrton Senna who we remember as automotive enthusiasts because of what they DID not because of what they were handed or what they spent. Remember too Senna gave away almost 2/3 of his personal fortune to charities.
Remember also when prices of oil rise to $5 a gallon that has nothing to do with our president, but OPEC which is a privately controlled monopoly on oil, but go on guys...marvel at the cars. Personally I see nothing special any of us couldn't achieve without a large pocket book and a dad who worked harder than us. Oh wait...
The 'big' Dodge on Clarksons Motorworld.
Hey, isn't that 1889 Mercedes the one that was in Gran Turismo 3? or 4? I forget which one, but one of them had that. When you drove it, your guy wore a leather helmet and big goggles from the era.
Haha the left one in the "armored personnel vehicles" is a NM206 BV (norsk modell 206 belte vogn) translated (norwegian model 206 track carrier).. I see these every day, and I have to do maintainance and reparis every month or so. Crazy to think that the norwegian militairy still uses these to this day even thoug they could all be put in a museum. Theyre kinda sweet to drive hehe.. Btw I like this Larry!
@Ba7raini Damn, I did not see that S - Class. Maybe it was being restored?
@MidoDesigns Rabie You should, it is free!
@KeithCharvonia I felt like an ant.
@MarcelKoolkicksRobertson It's funny because no matter how hard I tried to look at the other cars, I would somehow end up just staring at the big truck.
@VecTT Just a smidgen.
Must be your friend, that you know, that the Sheikh is not donating anything. I live here, can you give me his personal number so I can call him to my place for a dinner...
Haters gonna hate... I wonder if you would spend your money on cars or charities if you were rich...
Thanks for showing us Larry.
@TylerS13 Yeah, it kind of stood out.
@inspector_exacto Yes and it did a 2 min quarter mile!
@SMRacing Haha, thanks. It really is weird that he kept some of these totally standard cars.
@Larry Chen I hope thats the case because the car only has the delivery miles on it and many people have tried buying it :)
Do you see how I chew food? You're best off learning to set the table before you invite the likes of the Sheikh, FrodeOlsen, or me to dinner cause by the looks of it you're no more than chef boyardee with that comment.
Time cook 5 minutes on power level 2 before you decide to reply. Let it simmer.
@FrodeOlsen Or maybe it's just the fact that I care more about actually doing things than perceptions about me. You hate on V8s going into Japanese cars when plenty of Japanese manufacturers manufacture V8s. So it's really just about you not wanting any American made engine going into a Japanese car which is a strange approach to nationalism given the fact you are from Norway.
The irony is that LS engines swapped into ANY Japanese car produces more torque, more HP (which equals torque x rpm / 5252 which I'm sure you knew judging by your comments) and more speed than any Japanese made engine. What do the Norweigans produce again? Thats right...nothing. Then you have the nerve to give Larry a rim job with your little shout out...pretty transparent.
But like you said "haters gonna hate." If you want to talk like a 13 year old, make sure you are speaking to a 13 year old. The only thing you have on the receiving end of this conversation is a grown man who was formally trained to assemble Nascar spec V8s. No pussy here, just a dose that will make you wish you were born a woman.
Charities if you're asking honestly. I work with a couple right now.
You're also the kind of car guy who says he is against any V8 going into a Japanese car so I suppose you represent the side of the equation that cares more about perception of things and "keeping them pure" than the actual way they go.
Thats fine, it's just not everyones preference. Larry did a great job with the photos and the coverage as usually, it's just amazing to me how some people buy all this stuff and then it just sits around. Maybe I just like actually driving a lot so I get annoyed with the mentality of collectors.
@Ba7raini I don't blame them for trying.
@ADDvanced But yeah, you and the guy who poked fun at me are right. I think it's just my nature as a competitor to take the stuff seriously so it gets frustrating. When you're passionate about something it's hard to keep your distance. I represent the extreme side of the coin which makes it difficult to tolerate the opinions, but it's also why I have broken track records that were set by world champions. It goes both ways and it is what it is. People who like what I say can take it or leave it, but I'll never censor what I'm thinking on a public forum. I love speed hunters and all the coverage they provide, but I'm going to voice my opinion regardless.
Didn't mean to knock Larry for covering this event at all and I hope i don't come off like that. Larry is a super talented photographer and I appreciate his hard work.
@emination Aha God damn it. You should note that somewhere!!! I'm laughing my ass off right now.
You just deal with so many ridiculous people it gets hard to decipher whos on what side of the coin. I was formally trained in this stuff and a competitive racer so I guess it's my nature as an enthusiast. A couple of my friends got a good kick out of that just now so we all thank you for lightening up the night...you bastard :P
@ADDvanced Thats unfortunate because the internet is the fastest way for people to exchange ideas and information. The problem with the internet with automotive content is that it invites everyone who has no idea wtf they are talking about to form an opinion and argue with people who DO know what they are talking about. I care about the industry and thats why I argue.
I was formally educated in this stuff in a classroom setting for 3 years from guys who built Nascar winning engines and informally educated at the track by guys who had opportunities to sign onto winning Indy Car teams but didn't because they were making more money in other industries.
There are people in life who stand for whats right and whats greater than their egos, unfortunately I seem to be damn near the only person in the industry who cares about that and it's why i walked away from the industry as a profession 2 years ago.
No one gives a f*ck in the automotive world about reporting accurate, intelligent information anymore. It's sad and it's why you get guys who marvel at 1000hp engines, but can't tell you how an internal combustion engines timing operates, let alone how a 1000hp car responds on various tracks and conditions around the globe. The irony of the entire situation is that cars are entire made up of numbers, geometric angles, and mathematical computations. It's a thinking mans game.
The industry is saturated with imbeciles. I've broken multiple track records that will never be reported or recorded. I'm working on something big and when it hits the industry it will be my "told you so" moment. Keep your eyes peeled.
Not that I disagree with anything you said... but you're arguing on the internet. Which kind of makes you a tard.
where as everyone else is providing opinion based opinions*
Sorry guys. seems like I am experiencing some difficulties with my safari browser. I edited it the 1st time and posted it and it combined my two responses into one unreadable f*ck up.
I'm posting this on Firefox so hopefully there aren't any further problems. My apologies to anyone following the rant!
The fastest cars in a straight line are American built Top Fuel Dragsters which make about 8000hp and 5000-6000 ft lbs of torque. There isn't a dyno in the world that is capable of even measuring their power. They use American built V8s. Thats funny.
The fastest cars in turns are actually Super Karts which are made in both Europe and the US and powered by JAPANESE engines primarily. Mostly because of reliability and cost effectiveness, much like the small block chevy in tuner cars.
An American made and manufactured GT40 just did 283mph in the STANDING MILE. What car in europe can match that? The Veyron SS doesn't come close, the Agera R, not even in the same breath. No ferrari of porsche comes close.
But thats not handling I hear you cry...what about Ford's dominance over Ferrari with the GT40 and Corvettes absolute dominance in their class with the Corvette. Hell...a pushrod powered American built car beat the Veyron in straight line performance that cost less than half the price.
Yeah I am from America. Where are you from? The fastest cars in the world use V8s. I love V12s and V10s as well, but from a cost efficiency stand point the V8 is the best in the world. I owned and raced a 2002 Miata for 6 years.
What I find hysterical when I get into these kinds of discussions is that I AM THE ONLY PERSON PROVIDING DATA BACKED OPINIONS where as everyone else is provided historical evidence where you have failed to provide anything but your opinions!
If you're going to open your mouth and say something be able to support it like a lawyer does in a court case. Cars are about numbers and data. If you're not coming to the discussion with numbers and data you're wasting my time.
Let me guess:you are from USA. Because you think that ALL over the world we know or heard anything about an LSwhat? Big engine we have here also, you know...Europe. Don't need your LS. When we think TUNNING we dont think truck engines into JDM cars.
@FrodeOlsen I've been around in the automotive world long enough now where if someone calls me an asshole it doesn't even phase me (not that you were). There is so much ego in this industry, honestly it's unlike any other in the world. Appreciate you not name calling and I think youre a pretty cool dude after hashing it out with you. You have your way of doing things, I have mine. First and foremost I respect you for actually hearing me out and having a discussion. Thats rare from enthusiasts and professionals alike in this industry.
My whole point is all I see with this guys collection is ego. For Christ sake (do they believe in Christ?) the man has a 30 or 40 foot tall poster of his face hanging in the background. Even Leno doesn't go that far...
I've been a driving instructor who went faster than his 2 time world champion boss after being employed for 3 hours (by ~ 3/10 sorry Jim!). I was the leader of a notorious street racing group that went undefeated despite racing over 250 or 300 guys on the street in cars with double to triple the power. I've worked as a mechanic and tuner for grass roots guys all the way up to pro shops that built 4 figure horsepower engines. I've been a personal assistant to some big names in the business and had rides in Carrera GTs etc and been privileged enough to tour private collections worth 8 figures easy. I've turned down and walked away from jobs most car guys would kill for because of my principles as a human being as well as an enthusiast. Just a little of my background so you understand how I've seen and experience the industry first hand.
Even if I come off a certain way to guys on this board or in person, I've been around and I've done almost every angle of this industry one can imagine. First hand.
You say the tuners that can still do 4 and 6 cylinder engines, yeah thats true and some of them even do rotary, however, thats to support a customer base from my experience. Tuners are in the business to make money and that often entails supporting customers who don't entirely know what they are talking about. I worked for a relatively famous tuner one time who couldn't even explain to his customers what horsepower was mathematically, but built 1000 + hp engines monthly. It made no sense to me.
You have to remember tuners are a business and customers make up the business. There is a lot of data in the auto industry that gets over looked because of customers personal opinions, like any other business out there. A majority of guys in the industry ( from my experience in the industry) have no idea what the f*** they are talking about / looking at, but are the first guys to tell you whats what and how to tune.
Absolutely people should be allowed to do what they want with the money they earned. No problem with that at all. I am not telling this guy how he should spend his money.
As far as 2JZs in Camaros, every engine has its strengths and weaknesses. Some are lighter, some can be mounted lower, some have lower CoGs (center of gravity), some are aluminum etc. It all depends on what you want to do with the car and what intended purpose you are building for. Pound for pound the LSx is one of the lightest engines out there that is capable of producing the most amount of torque / hp in the world.
Would I swap an LSx into a Zcars Mini over a turbo K24, absolutely not, but thats a totally different build than an RX7 or a Miata which I would swap an LSx into any day over building a turbo 4 cyl / rotary.
In summary me and you have discussed more purposeful car talk than this Shaik has displayed in his entire collection. Thats what annoys me about the collector mentality. They don't get into it like me and you do and thats what I think separates us from them. Nice group of cars no doubt, but as a man who hangs banners of himself in his collection it's more a display of opulence and decadence than it is a display of someone who loves DRIVING cars.
Hope that clears up my point of view on things like this and I really have gained respect for you as you are willing to have a conversation and you're not afraid to throw it back to someone when they step things up to the next level.
Nope, not referring to donating to charities, im referring to how one treats the world and the people around him, althoug donating to charities or doing charity work is good, it doesnt make up for beeing an asshole to others... (Not saying that you are one tho')
Just because a lot of tuners around the world do it doesn't make it less of an easy and cheap solution. The tuners that can, still build powerful 4/6 cyl engines and the ones who cant be bothered grab the LSx.
Id take a Japanese car with a 600bhp 1/2 jz, RB, SR20 etc over the same car with an LSx any day, but thats just me, i dont see the fun in doing it the easiest way possible. That said if i had a ZR1/Charger/Camaro etc. i would never drop a 2jz or any other import engine in it...
As far as Topfuel Dragracing goes, noone can argue with a good american v8, that we do agree on.
And i also agree that cars are made to be driven, but i also think if a man wants to build a big museeum and keep a varied bunch of cars there, he should be alowed just that. Having that collection doesn't exclude the idea of him also having a bunch of cars he thrashes around in the dunes, the highway or the Abu Dhabi Circuit from day to day either... Atleast not for me...
You mean like donating to charities? Oh...right. I completely wasn't saying that originally (are you picking up that undercurrent of sarcasm?).
Grabbing an LSx and throwing it into a Japanese car is one of the most cost effective ways to produce huge power (and torque) which many Japanese motors lack. To achieve the same numbers on many Japanese motors requires large amounts of money and turbo setups which have their advantages and disadvantages at times. If it's such "a simple, american solution" why do tuners ALL OVER THE WORLD swap out for LSx's instead of trying to build turbo 4s or 6s? One reason: you can't get the same amount of torque. It's a fact. What do the most powerful cars (Top Fuel) in the world use...American V8s. The data is there and you can't argue with it. ~8000hp and ~5000 ft lbs of torque.
As a motorsport engineer you should understand that.
You can surmise a lot through ones behaviors, especially in the automotive world. When you see a large collection of parked cars that are completely immaculate mechanically and cosmetically they are usually that way because they are not driven regularly. You do bring up a good point about cars being works of art, but their original purpose is to be driven. The car was invented to be driven, not coveted like a rare bird in a wild life preservation. Maybe he is thrashing his stuff, but he doesn't choose to show that. Where is the video of the Sheik ripping up the dunes or the Abu Dhabi Circuit?
The rim job line was a little harsh, but I thought your retort about being butt hurt was funny given the circumstance. I'll give you a token for that.
@DanD @FrodeOlsen A little buthurt are we? First of all, building Nascar engines doesnt make you a man, its what you do with the rest of your surroundings that define you as a man... Second: Where do you get that i hate v8s from? I just think that grabbing the first LSx engine you find and sticking it in whatever Japanese car you got is the cheap, simple, american solution. American V8s, should stay in the cars they were Buildt for, American ones.. I would love a ke70 Corolla with a 1uz-fe, and i would love a 57 Bel Air with a 283cui. Third: what do you know about how this sheik drives his everyday car? He might be out in the desert thrashing it to death, because he thinks its fun too, just like the auto-X kid you talk about. So what If he collects cars to, as a motorsport Engineer, you have to agree that cars can be works of art too? Or?? Fourth: we Produce a big part of The fuel you guys use to power your cars, and The ammo you use to keep "world Peace"... And last: If "thanks for showing us Larry" is considered a rim job, you easily satisfied, right? Soooo, your game might be over, but i'm still playing.