There are some cars out there that could turn this series of features on its head by renaming it "My Owner". Cars that have travelled the world, been owned by various people with interesting histories, been subjected to varying degrees of surgical restoration and been driven on countless journeys that would inspire even the most seasoned adventurer. And this beautiful Porsche 356 is one of those cars.
One of only a couple in the UAE and, according to its current custodian, Dubai architect Omid Rouhani, the first to land in the country, it's a car that, if it could speak, would keep you up until the small hours regaling with tales stretching back to 1963, when it rolled off the Porsche production line in Stuttgart, Germany.
Omid's is a 356B and it's utterly charming in every respect. It isn't flash, it isn't ostentatious. It's functional, full of character and actually makes people grin when they see it. Turning heads with any car is practically impossible in the Emirates these days, but cars that do are usually classics. And on our brief journey to the photo location this cute, little Porsche does just that. It makes people point, smile and wave. "It's a feel-good car; it's a happy car," agrees Omid.
It's obvious that he is a Porsche fan because his boundless enthusiasm for the marque is quite contagious, so how did this start? "I went to university in the United States and when I was there I saw a silver 356 pull into a gas station," he recalls. "And from that point on this was the car I aimed for. I've always been a Porsche fan, though. I love the simplicity [of the early cars], their engineering and the fact that the company kept the purity of the designs over the years."
Omid purchased the 356 back in 1999 and it was 2000 by the time it landed in the UAE. The power of the internet, even more than a decade ago, meant it was possible for him to track down the right car in the US. "I was looking for one for the best part of two years and the internet proved invaluable. My parents were in America at the time I found this one and I asked my father and sister if they fancied a trip to Tennessee. Dad loves cars, too, so he didn't need convincing. I transfered the funds and he drove it all the way back to Pennsylvania."
A brave move, perhaps, but the long trip proved that at least this was no basket case. "Straight away I had it shipped here and, within minutes of it landing at the port, I was driving it home and the fan belt disintegrated," he recalls. "But, apart from that, it's been a fantastic car and hasn't let me down since."
It was treated to a bare metal body restoration, all the rubbers were renewed and the brightwork was re-chromed but that was 11 years ago and Omid's now talking about having it done again because, happily, the car's been used and enjoyed in that time, with the resulting wear and tear. But the interior has never been touched and neither has the engine. Which means that, unlike some prissy trailer-queens, this car's history is still intact. You can smell the age of the car as the door opens (in a good way). The old plastics, carpets and other trim have an evocative aroma and the engine bay is reassuringly scruffy. It's nice to see a classic like this being used the way its maker intended.
"It was originally owned by a knife maker in Tennessee and, through his work, he relocated to Alaska for a while and took the car with him. While he was there he served as a reserve fireman [there's still an Alaskan Fire Brigade sticker on one of the rear windows] and because it was painted red, it was used as a parade car," he adds.†"I'm approached by all manner of events organisers today to see if it can be used as part of promotional campaigns."
He's smitten, so the next question seems a bit daft, but does he have plans to sell? "No way. I've promised my sons that one day it will be theirs. This one's a keeper."