Basil Yehia loves Cammy, his 1999 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 convertible, so much that he imported it into the UAE from his home in Canada last year. The 30-year-old Abu Dhabi-based executive who works for Flash, the company behind the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix's entertaiment, is quick to wax lyrical about his affection for his car.
"The love I have for my Cammy is equivalent to the love a soldier has for his wife after he returns home from battle. Except with Cammy she came along with me in to the heat of battle and brought me back alive - and in stunning fashion," he says.
Yehia's purchase of Cammy was the result of a quest for a car that would stand out in a crowd back when he was 18 years old, freshly graduated from high school and looking forward to starting college. "I was on the hunt for a car that could captivate my imagination," he recalls. "I was a Toronto boy with a black book of numbers that spread across the province of Ontario and I needed a car that can keep up with me and my demanding social circuit.
"I searched the Greater Toronto Area for my ideal Camaro, until one day I got a call - they had a Camaro I was looking for. When I arrived at the showroom, it was love at first sight. "She looked at me and with a simple twinkle from her windshield I was drawn to her like a magnet." Yehia jokes that back in his wild college days, the car was "a young and energetic sex bomb with long, smooth, silky curves and prestige written all over her."
Most of his adventures in Canada with the Camaro were linked to his hectic social life. "There was not a club in Toronto we didn't conquer together. My Cammy always brought me home safe and sound." He is quick to boast that Cammy was also popular with the ladies of Toronto and inspired the envy of men with lesser motors. "Girls used to dream of an invitation to go for a spin in the now-legendary Cammy and guys older than me used to stop beside me at the red light and ask me about her specs, always with a smile and nod of approval," Yehia says.
He admits that there have been a few brushes with the law when the two have been out and about. "The law had it out for us from day one. A young, good looking Lebanese-Canadian boy in a car most Toronto police officers couldn't afford in a lifetime; of course they hated us. It's a shame what jealously does to you," he says with a laugh. "We had our fair share of traffic tickets and violations, but Cammy loved the attention.
"I once raced a cop on the highway. He was undercover though. Didn't know it was a cop. Thought it was some poser trying to show us up. I smoked him though, until he put on his sirens and pulled us over," he says. "Me and Cammy got hit hard with five violations from reckless driving to failing to provide insurance papers." When he used to rent cars for longer road trips in Canada, he knew that Cammy felt left out.
"She would look at me with sad eyes, as if I broke her heart," Yehia says. Such was his attachment to his car that when he moved to Abu Dhabi in 2008 he knew he couldn't leave her alone in the cold of Canada and he brought her with him to the UAE. The car has been a faithful companion through the weather extremes of Canada and the Middle East and, while Cammy may not be quite as sharp as she used to be, Yehia plans to hold on to her for a while yet.
"My dream car is an Aston Martin Vanquish, but if it doesn't have an adventurous spirit and a go-get-'em attitude then nothing will ever overtake my Cammy," says Yehia, adding that while she may not cut the mustard for the daily commute these days, she can still be seen accompanying him to days at the beach on weekends. "At her old age, she can't put on the daily mileage she used to and time has got the better of her, I'm afraid," he sadly confesses. "But there is never a time I look at her after taking out of the car wash and don't think back to the first day we met - she still shines as she used to and winks at me with her broad, glossy windshield. Her engine still purrs like the lion she is. And her glam factor is still top-notch. Her place will always be with me. Even if it's not on a daily basis.
"My baby girl is still standing beside me, strong and proud."