Ken Campbell says one of the best things about his new 2009 Lexus IS 300 is that he's managed to drive it for an entire year without getting much of a scratch on it, which is quite an achievement, especially for many of the UAE drivers. For Campbell, 37, this little victory is worth savouring. Not many people can claim to have had two brand new cars written off in a row within two years.
"I bought the car in October 2008. It's an entry level Lexus and, because the recession hit around the time when I bought it, you don't see as many on the roads as you might expect," Campbell says. "I like the car. It's surprisingly economical to drive considering it has a 3.0L V6 engine. The colour shimmers in the daylight and it is a very comfortable car to drive; you don't feel saddlesore after long journeys. It goes fast when I need to escape the idiots, holds its own and is built well. But it's how I got to this, my third car in Dubai, that's the interesting thing about it."
After passing his driving test in Dubai in 2006, Campbell bought a 2007 Mazda6. He was planning to rent a car, but was told by the rental company that they wouldn't rent him a car unless he had one year's driving experience. So he found himself shopping around for a new car. "I looked into the money I had and found I could afford a new Mazda. I bought one that was almost fully-loaded - the only thing that wasn't there was the extra body kit like bumpers and side skirts. I had the car for approximately five and a half months," Campbell says.
Having saved up some extra cash, Campbell decided to add these missing features. "I bought the new body kit, which set me back around Dh4,000. I got it fitted, picked up the car, and was really pleased with the new look. I enjoyed it for all of four days. And that is when I got crashed into," he says. Campbell recalls the day when he was approached by a colleague as he worked late in Al Quoz. "He came up to me and said, 'you're the guy who drives the new Mazda6, right?' I said 'Yes - why?' and he told me it had had a really bad crash and that he'd seen the whole thing happen."
As Campbell ran outside, he met an apologetic minivan driver who was standing next to his car that was now without a functional front axle. The driver explained how he had lost control and swerved when in his effort to avoid a cat he pressed the accelerator instead of the brake. "One side of the Mazda was crushed and I had to get it towed away," says Campbell. "I couldn't drive it; the axle was completely off, it didn't even go onto the trailer in a straight line. I took it to Galadari [Automobiles] and waited for the insurance. In the meantime, I went to the rental place and explained what happened. Luckily, they let me have a car, but without a full insurance, a lowest-end model Mazda6."
The insurance company deducted Dh2,000 towards the car's value and refunded him the rest of the money. Shaken, Campbell drove rental cars for a while. "I drove the Mazda, I drove a Mitsubishi Lancer, a Honda Accord, all hired cars. At the time of the crash, I even drove my partner's Honda Jazz for a while and borrowed a friend's Nissan Tiida. I had a lot of temporary cars. In October, 2007, I decided to buy a new car again. So after about a year, I became the owner of a new 2008 Lexus IS 300," Campbell says.
To make up, in part, for his bad luck, he decided to get a better car than the Mazda. He organised financing and chose the Lexus with the full spec. "I got all the bells and smells. And I have to say it was rather pleasant to drive - for the three months that I had it," Campbell says. Campbell's bad luck, however, lingered on. He explains how, in January 2008, he met with another accident, just after he took up a new job as a sub editor with a publishing company at Dubai Media City, where he started commuting every day from Jumeirah.
"I was driving along the Jumeirah beach road and just before the Beach Park, in the slow lane, I got caught up in traffic," Campbell says. "I think there was a corner that someone was trying to reverse out of, so there was a bit of a backup. There was a Land Cruiser in front of me. No one was moving. Suddenly I heard a screeching of brakes behind me. I looked up in the mirror and the next moment it crashed into me."
The impact sent Campbell's car into the Land Cruiser in front of him, and he found himself trapped between the two cars. The Land Cruiser's tow bar went through his radiator and damaged the chassis and the bonnet. The back of the car resembled a concertina. "There was oil and gunk everywhere. The car was written off there and then. The driver in the car behind burst into tears, so I couldn't really be mad at her even though I was. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. I got a bit of whiplash but that was it."
The person who caused the accident admitted liability and Cambell found himself once more at the rental company. "This time around, the insurance company didn't bother to depreciate it as I'd only had it brand new for three months. I got the full amount, but I was back to square one. People started telling me not to buy a car." Cambell, however, decided that the only recompense for such a run of poor luck was to upgrade to the newest model he could afford. "I looked around for something to upgrade to. At that particular time there wasn't anything else that caught my eye, so I simply went for the next year's spec Lexus, a 2009 Lexus IS300," Campbell says.
"The manufacturer had added things like two-tone seating, nicer lighting, spoilers and bumpers, and it looked more updated than the one I had before. Touch wood, a year later I have had no crashes." email@example.com