To really get to the heart of car culture, and anywhere in the world, you need to go right to the source.
Cars don’t just appear out of thin air, and I think we’re all guilty sometimes of overlooking the people and shops behind any given project. To form any sort of qualitative opinion on a build, or even on an entire scene, you need to have all of the material information to hand. To do so otherwise, well, let’s just say it’s not a good look.
When speaking about Middle Eastern car culture in particular, I think the best way to describe it is ‘layered’. Yes, there are the stereotypes which we don’t need to go into due to their superficial nature (more car fashion than car culture), but there is a lot of unexplored authentic culture in the region.
I’m talking about real people, building real cars in real workshops. The sort any one of us would feel at home in.
Following the lead of Dan Price of CarCulture.ae, we headed to an industrial area on the outskirts of Dubai. Truthfully, it could have been in the heart of Dubai as it’s a city I find very difficult to navigate; the kind of place where you feel like you’re lost until you’re not.
In saying that, I didn’t need a prompt from Google Maps to let us know that we had arrived at our destination, as the cars parked on the street gave me a heads up in advance.
PS13 on R33 GT-R wheels? Sign me up!
One thing that I didn’t previously appreciate was that while a lot of these cars look like they have been abandoned for months if not years, it only takes a very short time for them to become covered in dust and sand. Essentially, beware of the YouTuber promising you a look at the abandoned cars of Dubai, when in reality their owners have probably just popped out for a coffee.
Another thing is that there’s relatively very little crime in the region, so it’s not of any concern to leave a car like this outside, unlocked, with parts left inside.
Cars outside aside, the exterior of the building is relatively unassuming, but inside is just slightly more impressive. For reference, this was the day after MADE, the last day of the weekend in Dubai and still the shop was busy taking care of customer projects and also the cars of people who had travelled a long way to attend the event.
Kanzen Motorsports (the name Kanzen comes from the Japanese word which represents perfection or completeness) was originally set up by three friends in 2015. Yazan Elfayez, Jeremy Quan and Faaiq Fazal had a passion for drifting and all things JDM.
Despite coming from different professional backgrounds (one was a pilot, another a marketing and events manager, and the third an IT specialist), the friends realised that most of the time they spent together revolved around cars. They wanted something they could call their own, so here you have it.
Even on a whistle-stop tour of the workshop, it was clear to see variety in the projects, even if someone had snuck a BMW in. There was certainly a fondness for stance and fitment, with some help courtesy of our friends at Air Lift Performance, but the sight of a 1JZ lying idle and a new Supra parked nose-to-nose with a Datsun hinted at some of Kanzen’s other work.
In fact, it was their omni-presence at MADE that piqued my curiosity. With their company name on several significant builds, I figured it was worth my while to come and take a look.
The biggest reward of this visit was being able to liaise with the owner of what was personally my favorite car of the whole trip. No prizes then for guessing what story is coming next…