Buying items online is always a bit of a gamble, but buying a classic American muscle car from across the Atlantic Ocean after only seeing a picture might seem like you're asking for trouble. But for Tim Trenker, it was one of the best decisions he's ever made. "One of my all-time loves was a 1967 Mustang," he says. "That's what I got myself last year, but it took me about three years to find the right car for the right money."
As the general manager of KTM Middle East, Trenker is surrounded by performance machinery every day, including the stealth bomber lines of the lightweight X-Bow track car, but his heart has always been with Motown muscle. "Instead of having a super new sports car, I have my Mustang. It's an absolute classic. I love the sound it makes and the smell of the car," he says. Mostly original except for a few dabs of paint, the only new items are a retro-fitted air conditioning system and a brand-new, 302-cubic inch V8 engine. Trenker smiles, "It rumbles really nice. It's awesome."
German-born Trenker has always been close to cars and bikes. Growing up in Egypt, the US, Indonesia and Italy, he has been a successful TT racer and moto rider, winning the 2004 Qatar Baja. He has also co-driven a Porsche Cayenne S with Said al Hajri in the 2008 Transsyberia Rally, and is regular in the UAE Desert Challenge since he came to the region to ride for KTM 13 years ago. He set up home in Dubai in 1998 and worked as an events manager for BMW and regional operations manager for Porsche ME, but his loyalties to the German brands pale beside his love for his cherry red 1967 coupe with classic white racing stripes.
"Some things get your heart pumping, and the Mustang was for me," Trenker says. "You need certain things in life because it can get very monotonous." Although the Mustang was also made in a fastback version - which was made famous by Bullitt, the 1968 film starring Steve McQueen - it is the coupe that Trenker prefers and which many Ford designers even today refer to for inspiration. But why the decision to buy one online?
"Most people use eBay Motors or Yahoo Autos and I just veered off at one point and found it," Trenker explains. "I got in touch with the guy and he seemed so typically American: kind-hearted, very easy going and easy to talk to. I got the feeling that he really didn't want to let it go". With just a few reference pictures and the seller's guarantee that "if you don't like the car I'll send you every penny back and I'll have no hard feelings", Trenker went for it.
"I gave the money to a friend of a friend of mine here [in Dubai] and he entrusted it to someone else and that guy went to pick it up." Three months later, with all the paperwork complete, his 43-year-old dream car arrived in a container. "Yes, if you look closely under the bumper there may be a little bubble on the paint here and there. But it's perfect," Trenker smiles. When pressed to reveal the price of his stylish four-speed auto with its chrome five-spoke rims, Trenker is cryptic. "It is easily worth more than Dh150-170,000, for a car in that condition that I don't have to do anything to. The guy put $50,000 into restoring it, plus a brand new engine."
The only problem came with the registration process in Dubai. "It was a bit of a nightmare because it was just too loud," says Trenker. "So we had to put different mufflers on. Now it just rumbles nicely and when you step on it, it really opens up - then it's loud." But while he is radical on the racetrack and in the desert, Trenker is far more chilled when he steps into his 'Stang. "The thing I enjoy most on a Friday morning is to get into the Mustang and go for breakfast. There's not a lot of traffic on the road and it's just me and my car."
But there are just a few occasions when he can't resist the temptation. "I love to let it rip sometimes, and knowing that I have that engine under the hood that can burn rubber on the traffic lights and smoke some of the new cars - I like that." The Mustang is his weekend car. On work days, he alternates between a 4x4 Ford pickup, a Harley-Davidson V-Rod, the X-Bow or pretty much any of the KTM bikes in the showroom.
Is he a rider or a driver first? "A bit of both," Trenker replies. "The biggest problem here is the education of drivers and riders. As a biker, you have to be passive in traffic. You have to be aware of everything and think ahead. If you're aggressive you will get hurt - even the best riders, because it's not up to you most of the time." Back on four wheels, Trenker admits he is hooked. "I might get a fastback and soup it up, but the car I would really consider buying now is the new Shelby GT500. It is unbelievable."
For now, though, he can't stop grinning. "With muscle cars, the engine resembles the sound of motorsport. But really with this car, it's the simplicity," he concludes. "Although I love my toys and I love the good life, I love the simple life too. I guess I got lucky." firstname.lastname@example.org