The Secret Is Out – Gemballa Ferrari Enzo MIG-UI

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Gemballa Enzo Illyas and Mustafa Galadari

I’ve been holding a secret for a long time…A while back one of my friends (a member of the Galadari family) in Dubai told me about this project they were working on with Germany’s famous Porsche tuner Gemballa. The project shocked me because of just how insane it was. After seeing some early sketches of the project, I was convinced that it would turn out to be pretty wild!

Now many months later after painfully suppressing this secret, the pictures are here. The Gemballa Enzo project lives!

I’ve been given permission finally to release the pictures, but it seems that I might not be the first to leak them. Regardless I think I was one of the very first to know about this project many months ago, so I still feel its relevant to publish these here.

It should be known that the car is called the MIG-UI by Gemballa. It is named after Mustafa and Illyas Galadari with Mustafa’s name being first in this order because the base Enzo was his own personal car.  The car is a limited edition model which has been produced for the “Illyas and Mustafa Galadari Group” of Dubai. The Illyas and Mustafa Galadari Group is Gemballa’s Middle East distributor. The details will be released at a future invitation only launch in Dubai.

For an invitation, please contact me and I’ll forward your information to friends within the Galadari Group.

Gemballa Enzo Illyas and Mustafa GaladariGemballa Enzo Illyas and Mustafa Galadari

Gemballa Enzo Illyas and Mustafa GaladariGemballa Enzo Illyas and Mustafa Galadari

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Customer Car: Saeed’s R35 GT-R

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Amuse R35 GT-R Rear Wing

I’ve been on the road a lot lately visiting some amazing people in some equally amazing places. Just this month I’ve jumped from Las Vegas to Dubai to Bahrain to San Francisco with a day or two spurts home in Los Angeles in between travels. Next up I’m off to Arizona, and then Japan (pre-Auto Salon and then again for TAS of course!). I apologize for the lack of my personal posts lately, the traveling has made it impossible to keep my regular blogging pace. I’m going to make it up to you, I promise!

During my stay in Dubai I was fortunate to spend some quality time with my good friend Saeed. I did a quick two day trip to Bahrain, but primarily this trip was about visiting with Saeed. Saeed is one of the very few guys I’ve ever met that I can say is an encyclopedia of knowledge about cars. I can mention any car to him and without hesitation he will instantly have not only a well considered opinion, but more impressively, actual driving experience with the car! For more than a week we talked about cars, life and Dubai in general…the entire time a car never came up that he didn’t personally drive and have a fascinating opinion about. Perhaps he’s the Jeremy Clarkson of Dubai! 🙂

I must say that although I have always somewhat liked Porsches, I’ve never considered myself a huge Porsche fan. There are plenty of cars I’d choose over a Porsche…but when Saeed said his favorite car he’s ever driven for a daily driver is a 997 GT2, I reconsidered everything. Saeed is one of those guys who will tell me a car is no good and from that point forward I will have no interest in ever owning one. Its easy to have an opinion about cars, but few have the experience to back it up.

So its no doubt that Saeed has great taste in modifying cars as well. I hope you all enjoy the pictures I snapped of his R35 GT-R, a car that I believe holds the title of the car Saeed has held on to the longest of all of his cars. Despite my love for the Ferrari 599, Saeed got bored of it. Even his beloved 997 GT2 he one day became bored of and he moved on. Somehow, the GT-R is the last car standing….a testament for the qualities and appeal of GT-R ownership in itself.

One thing Saeed and many of my GT-R owning friends all have in common is they all enjoy driving the GT-R more than other exotic cars worth 4x the price. Forget Nurburgring numbers for a minute, the real truth is when you see guys fight over the keys of the GT-R when the other car is a Gemballa Porsche Mirage GT (Carrera GT based) as I saw on a previous trip to UAE. Whether the other car is a Veyron, a Ferrari, a Lamborghini or whatever, invariably the GT-R is somehow always enjoyed more when it comes to actually driving the car. It still surprises me to hear people say that, but it keeps being proven true! To me, that is the most impressive thing about the GT-R (amongst the many).

So how did Saeed modify his GT-R? Well, I cant exactly divulge the engine modifications since there is some value to the surprise factor when he battles a street foe down Jumeriah. The modifications I can discuss are all found here along with a few more pictures:

Lets just say that anyone who replaces every gear in the GT-Rs transmission is someone on a mission…

Saeed GT-RR Customer Car Dubai R35 GT-RSaeed GT-RR Customer Car Dubai R35 GT-R

Saeed GT-RR Customer Car Dubai R35 GT-RSaeed GT-RR Customer Car Dubai R35 GT-R

The car has all of the best parts, as expected from a true car aficionado. The latest mod the car has installed is the Carbon Dry aero hood which is full dry carbon with an aluminum honeycomb core. This hood is so nice, we kept it in our sales office just to stare at it for a while prior to shipping it to Dubai. Very few parts get that level of praise and status over here, at the moment just Super GT Nismo parts and ASM race car one-off parts have held that office display status alongside this hood.

Just from looking at the front profile of the car, you can see the newly installed light weight hood, the auto select front diffuser, Esprit front mount intercooler, Esprit dry carbon intercooler duct, Nissan LED driving lamps, Auto Select Canards and the GT-RR one off carbon fiber mirrors. The rest of the car is equally modified. A full titanium Amuse exhaust is utilized. MCR suspension keeps the car fast yet streetable. The Amuse dry carbon wing keeps the rear of the car car planted at speed. Zele carbon fiber side skirts, rear under spoiler and fender ducts add some subtle style to the exterior as well.  Then there are the Dymag carbon fiber and magnesium wheels. Saeed is actually tired of those rims at the moment and the car will soon be sporting some flat black Volk G2 20″ rims with R888 rubber. Although not as exotic as a carbon fiber wheels, this new set will surely look even better on the car (more aggressive face profile and offset) and the R888 rubber will allow the car to run even faster on the streets and circuit.

The car’s interior features a heap of GT-RR’s carbon fiber one-off parts. Everything from the Navigation surround Bezel to the reshaped flat bottom carbon fiber and leather steering wheel have been reworked. The car has turned out so nice that despite me being biased against red cars, I really think that this is one of the best private owned, street driven GT-Rs in the world. For me to say that about a red car took a lot of careful consideration. Plus somehow R35 GT-Rs are one of the very few cars that in my opinion look really nice in red. I’m sure Kobayashi-san of MCR would agree with me on the Red. I’d still choose black or white personally, but looking at Saeed’s car has me saying Red is a good color choice for once.

For those disappointed that there was no travel report for this trip, the previous blog posts (from earlier trips) will offer my perspective on the amazing experience of visiting the UAE. Although I’ve learned much more with subsequent trips about the culture and the experience of living out there, my earlier posts can serve as a good introduction to anyone curious about what its like to travel there from an American perspective.

Trip #1

Trip #2

It has been fun watching Saeed’s GT-R evolve over the years he’s owned it. I wonder what the future will hold…whatever it is, I’m sure it will be exciting!

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Mid East Trip – Now That I’m Back Pt. 3

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Dream Garage in Dubai, Bulletproof Automotive Trip

Last month I put together two posts of interesting things found during my last trip to the mid east. Today I’ll finish up the trilogy with a feature on one of the best home garages I’ve ever seen.

At first look, this garage looks like a very nicely detailed 4 car garage. On its own, that would be something to admire…yet this garage fits 8 cars and does so in style!

Dream Garage in Dubai, Bulletproof Automotive Trip

If you click on the above image you’ll notice that the squeeky clean new Lamborghini Gallardo LP-560 sits beneath a Mercedes G-Class.

In all four of the bays, sitting behind the motorized heavy metal doors are lifts to allow the luxury and exotic cars fit one on top of the other.

I think another closer look is needed:

Dream Garage in Dubai, Bulletproof Automotive Trip

I dont want to give away too much about the car collection to the point that someone could identify who the owner is…but just have a look at a fraction of this collection. Here in the above picture sits a Gemballa Mirage GT (Modified Porsche Carrera GT) which is underneath a Mercedes Benz McLaren SLR 722 Edition. As you can imagine, the other four cars are equally as spectacular and well modified.

They have truly put together a dream garage for their home! Granted they have other garages, some much bigger, but what has impressed me is that this is a useable garage located at their home with a quality design. It is much easier to build a warehouse type garage than to build something on site at someone’s home, this is one of the best home garages I’ve seen.

This concludes my photos of my last trip to the mid east. I’d love to show more from the trip but I must respect my friends over there and not give away too much behind the scenes. They like to keep their anonimity. Thats all until the next trip perhaps…

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Mid East Trip – Now That I’m Back Pt. 1

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Bulletproof Mid East Trip June 2009 Gemballa Mirage GT

I know of at least a few people who have been looking for my write up of my most recent mid east trip. Well, here it is to those interested:

First off, I’m extremely happy to have such a great network of friends and clients in the mid east. There is no substitution to meeting people face to face and spending some quality time. Lately I’ve been feeling like my connections and network in the mid east is getting stronger than my connections in the US. I’m not entirely sure how that is possible after ten years of business now in Los Angeles, but yet I think that miraculously my connections are just that strong already in the mid east. It is really wonderful to have such good friends and contacts, I’m really happy about it.

I owe such a huge thank you to so many people for this last trip. I know many people wanted to remain anonomyous so I wont mention any names or show any license plates to keep my friends off the internet. Anyway, to those of you in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain that hosted my stay and made me feel at home, thank you all so much! The mid east is quickly becoming like a second home for me. The people I have met are so incredibly kind and fun to spend time with. At this pace I may be going to the mid east this year more than I’ll be going to Japan, which is crazy because I need to be in Japan somewhat often.

So what can I tell you about the mid east that I didnt mention during my write up of my last trip to Dubai?

First off – They have the number game on lock! Any desirable number for a car license plate or a mobile phone is worth big money and is traded like a hot stock. That is, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a desirable number. The rules of the game are to get either the lowest number you can for a license plate (under 50 is great, under 10 is epic) or to get a series of the same number (like all 5s or something). The car license plate game starts with the ruler who is the only one allowed to get #1. So if you manage to buy plate #2 you’re pretty much the man. Of course getting #2 in Dubai is way more impressive than getting #2 in a less prestigious UAE reigon. Seeing this lust after numbers makes perfect sense to me since prestige and exclusivity is a universal lust regardless of culture. Yet in the US I don’t see people playing this game so seriously as the do in the mid east, which makes me really wonder if it will become an emerging market outside of the mid east (I think it will).

Secondly – To continue my exploration, I noticed something that amused me. Before I mentioned that Rolex is the official clock of Dubai’s airport. Well I was surprised to find that Breitling is the official clock of Bahrain’s airport! A nice little clock rivalry is brewing between Dubai and Bahrain. Man…what does the US get for airport clock branding? We cant even afford a swatch watch for our airports I bet. We are totally outballed by the mid east. When you get to the airport over there you really know what time it is!

Bulletproof Automotive Mid East Trip June 2009 - Breitling Bahrain Airport

Thirdly – Check back tommorow and I’ll bring you more. (I’m short on time today)

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OT – The Real JDM Travel Report – Dubai Pt 2.

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So yesterday I highlighted some of the things I’ve learned about Dubai that I found impressive. Today I’ll share some pictures (all in hi-res).

1. Taking a tour in the desert has shown me a driving style I’m not used to. They get cars to the point of near tipping, and then with aggressive steering angle and a lot of wheel spin manage to keep the car stable over the dunes. This picture was the best I could manage.

The Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

2. The worlds largest building (168 floors) looks massive when next to anything. On the picture to the left you can see just the base of the building towering over other buildings which are 30+ stories tall. On the picture to the right you can see the biggest tower in the world, alongside the biggest mall in the world, alongside the biggest water fountain in the world (not yet finished). Even from the helicopter view we were not above the Burj Dubai tower.

The Real JDM Travel Guide - DubaiThe Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

3. I took this photo inside the biggest mall in the world, The Dubai Mall. You can see the amazing waterfalls and also a full scale aquarium integrated into the mall. Sharks in the mall…yes. And in case you were not sure this was the largest mall in the world, just check out that picture of the shop directory!

The Real JDM Travel Guide - DubaiThe Real JDM Travel Guide - DubaiThe Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

4. This photo shows indoor ski slope inside The Emirates Mall.

The Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

5.  The airport reminds you that you are in Dubai…what other airport has Rolex clocks?

The Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

6. Proof that I was there.

The Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

PS: the car culture there is running strong. I didn’t have a good chance to take many pictures of the cars, but you can expect to see various exotic cars daily roaming the streets. Also there were quite a lot of R35 GT-Rs, but because cars can only be left hand drive I didn’t see any R34, 33 or 32 GT-Rs.

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OT – The Real JDM Travel Report – Dubai

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The Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

I recently returned from a visit to Dubai. First off – A big thanks goes to my friend Shk. Saeed Almaktoum for being an incredible host!

If I succeeded with my intentions, nobody reading the blog knew I was gone since I wrote blog posts for nearly every day I was in Dubai. Hopefully everyone enjoyed the various posts…

Now that I’m back, I felt it would be a good blog post to explain just how unique Dubai is. I’ll keep this condensed, and hopefully it will be an interesting read for those of you who are interested in travel, culture and world leading achievement that Dubai has become known for. Also I’m sharing some of the pictures I took on the trip in hi-res.

The easiest way to explain Dubai to those not familiar is to compare it to Las Vegas. Much like Vegas, Dubai was built rapidly and on top of somewhat undesirable land (extremely hot, lots of desert). Also much like Las Vegas, Dubai depends greatly on travel, specifically tourism and foreign investment/participation in Dubai business. As Las Vegas has built some extravagant hotels and features to attract millions from all over the world, Dubai has done a similar strategy although at an almost incomprehensibly greater degree.

The level of growth, innovation, and unprecedented landmarks that Dubai has achieved in such a short time (most of it in the past 30 years) is unlike anything I thought I would ever witness in my lifetime. Despite a common misconception, the Dubai economy is not prospering from Oil which was depleted in Dubai long ago. Dubai’s model of growth is much like Las Vegas, but without two key advantages of Vegas, there is no gambling and very little alcohol in Dubai.

So how does Dubai out grow, out prosper and impress visitors perhaps even more than Las Vegas? This can be a long answer but here are some the highlights:

1. They established from personal experience what I consider to be the best quality airlines in the world, Emirates. This successful and profitable business laid down the infrastructure to gain access and presence as a global travel destination. What impressed me especially from my background/interest in business is that Emirates Airlines grew organically from a humble start of only two planes and steadily expanded as the country it supported also expanded simultaneously from the increased access and ease of transportation.

2. Great city planning and an international multicultural acceptance -Tax free zones for enterprise and incentives to foster rapid business growth and foreign investment are part of this mix. Secondly is the fact that for Dubai to achieve its dreams, it relies on building a city and culture with arms open to foreign participation. In fact more than 80% of the population of Dubai are foreigners. Although local customs and religious beliefs remain important parts of life for the natives of Dubai, they are also accepting of other cultures and allow others to act as they normally would, unrestricted by local customs. For example alcohol is not traditionally accepted, nor are women wearing western outfits, however in Dubai you will see plenty of places to drink, to party and plenty of women wearing whatever they like out in public. The locals most likely do not participate in this, however they do not stop other cultures from doing what they would like to do (within obvious reason of law/morality).

3. Creating the biggest spectacles in the world that make Dubai a noteworthy destination.

Expanding on point 3 – Dubai has an ambitious goal of creating the biggest and best of everything in the world. More than just a point of national pride, doing so ensures that people around the world must become aware of Dubai, putting it on the map as a major destination for tourism and business.

Surely you must have heard of some of these things:

Burj Dubai – The worlds largest building which has 168 floors and is 2300 or so feet tall. (when I was growing up on the east coast, I visited the Empire State building as a child. It was the biggest thing I could ever imagine…now when I saw the Burj Dubai I realized that it is nearly twice as tall as the Empire State building. It is so tall that when I was in a helicopter I was still not above it, it is simply hard to fit into photographs it is so big)

The Palm Islands and the World Islands (and soon to be The Universe Islands) – These man made islands are so massive of a project that they have changed the layout of the earth when viewed from space.

The biggest shopping mall in the world which has more than 1200 stores, which by the way sits next to the biggest building in the world and which is separated by the biggest fountain in the world (think Bellagio fountain but bigger). And then there is of course a smaller shopping mall (but also MASSIVE) which contains an indoor ski slope.

The Burj Al Arab Hotel – The only 7 diamond hotel in the world, which is kept on its own man made island and is a huge building in the shape of a sail. Every room in there is two stories tall and has its own butler. I took a tour of it, its crazy over the top luxury.

Tomorrow I’ll share some photos and wrap up this report. It was a fascinating place to visit and I’m very happy to have made such great friends there.

For now I’ll leave you with this photo:

The Real JDM Travel Guide - Dubai

(you know you’ve arrived some place special when the baggage claim area at the airport looks like this)

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