If there’s one thing I do enjoy it’s a car show and when my friend and serial automotive business entrepreneur Phil McGovern announced his latest “Caffeine & Machine” meet, I realised this would be my first chance to show TTT off to a wide audience and generate some interest in the vehicle, my journey and this blog. So with TTT duly washed and polished I drove down to the event at the superb Port Rashid venue. The directions themselves were enticing “Go in through the main gate, tell them you are with Caffeine & Machine. Go over the first roundabout, left at the lights, then turn left at the Queen Elizabeth II”.
No, Her Majesty was not actually there to meet me in person, but the cruise liner the QE2 has been moored in Dubai for 10+ years now and whilst it’s a shame she’s not been developed as the tourist attraction which she could be (along the lines of the Queen Mary in Long Beach CA), she’s still an imposing vessel. As I entered the port there was a 1930s Ford pick-up behind me and a modified Unimog in front of me, so I knew I was going to enjoy the show. I drove past my friend Laurie Bridger’s gorgeous 1959 Cadillac convertible, waited for a couple of 1960’s Mustangs to park, queued behind a Lamborghini LM002 4×4 to get to the ‘off road’ display and parked alongside my business partner Ian Barker’s Chevy LS2 powered rally prepped Nissan Patrol (it’s for sale, details here http://newtrixracing.blogspot.ae/ )
I hadn’t been out of the vehicle five minutes and was still opening up all the panels and attaching information sheets (to save me explaining things a 100 times) , when the first intrigued passers-by came over to chat. It must have been two hours later when I realised the sun was beginning to set and I’d yet to take any photos. So I made a very brief walk around a fraction of one of the display areas, between the McLaren P1s and Lancia Stratos, vintage Jaguars and Porsches, Ferrari 365 and 308s (mmmmm!), VW split screen campers and…and…and…
I was in automotive heaven, but sadly lack of light curtailed my photography, and by the time I returned to TTT there was a queue of visitors waiting to take a look around. If I’d have been charging admission I’d have made a fortune. I reckon I showed over 30 groups and families around the truck, met up with a number of my journalist friends who were finally able to see the vehicle for the first time, and generally just had a great time.
Six hours later I drove home, a very happy man, and with any number of new followers of this blog – so “Hi” to you all and Thanks for coming along and meeting me. And Thank you Phil for the trouble I know you must have gone to, to get the event off the ground.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately folks but I’ve been having a few issues with the truck which I didn’t really want to make public, at least not until they’d been resolved. Once again I have to thank EMC in Abu Dhabi and Oberaigner for their amazing support, and KrugXP for their patience as I dealt with what are really just teething problems but which set me back a few weeks. I think I’ll deal with them all in a separate post once I’m on the road full time.
Anyway the truck’s first proving run was an 1,100km or so return trip to Muscat, Oman, so I could meet my parents there as they returned to the UK from Goa. I managed to find a perfect parking place on empty ground just in front of their hotel, the Ramada at Qurum Beach, where I was undisturbed by anyone, yet was close enough to the hotel to be able to pinch their wi-fi, and use their bathrooms when necessary (just as well since there was an issue with the water pressure in my truck and I couldn’t flush my loo !). It was great that my parents could see the vehicle before I head off to Africa, but with only two seats in the truck, it meant I had to hire a car while I was there, to drive us around Muscat. Still, it was easier to park than the truck 🙂
On the way home to Dubai though I stopped off in Suwayq and a couple of other places along the coast, and again in the mountains at Hatta in the U.A.E., to take some shots of the truck while it’s still in pristine condition. I wonder how long that will last?
It’s now more than five and a half years since I had the idea to buy an overland truck and travel around Africa. For the next four and half years that’s all it was – an idea, albeit one I was determined to realise. Finally, in late 2015 everything fell into place and my finances permitted me to take that leap of faith. Now, a year and a couple of weeks after I placed the order for the chassis and cabin, the NYK Castor Leader RoRo vessel is steaming around the Strait of Hormuz as I write this, and will tomorrow dock at Jebel Ali port – just a few hundred yards from where I first started working in Dubai 25 years ago, when there were only 300 companies in Jebel Ali. Now there’s more like 30,000; how times have changed!
Last week I spent a few hours at the Road Traffic Authority offices in Dubai trying to meet the right people, ask the right questions, and gather the right information, which would allow me to tackle the issue of registering the vehicle for private ownership in Dubai – not a straightforward task when the chassis builder is almost unknown to them, the cabin is not something they normally deal with, it’s truck sized but not, by their definition, a truck because they classify Sprinters as vans, and it’s six wheel drive but the only records they have of Sprinters here are two wheel drive. So next week should be ‘interesting’ to say the least.
While I was at the RTA I was delighted to hear that just a week earlier they had started issuing the “T” suffix number-plates, which was perfect timing and I decided was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I treated myself to a personal number plate.
T Tim’s Travel Truck
Yes I know you can argue there are 7 (or 5, or even 4) continents but that number has other, personal significance for me, so feast your eyes on the plate that will adorn my truck from next week and for the next few years. “Truck” still doesn’t have a name yet, but I’m giving it a lot of thought. Tomorrow I hope to drive down to the port and sneak a quick look at my vehicle on U.A.E. soil for the first time. I should actually get to drive it (him? her?) on Sunday next week, for the first time in Dubai. Woohoo!!