x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

'I fell in love instantly'

This heavy metal fan from Mirdif went shopping for an SUV, but bought a muscle car instead.

Kate Mullen says she feels confident, strong and cool when she's driving her Ford Mustang. She's planning a respray of the car when she's paid her last loan instalment.
Kate Mullen says she feels confident, strong and cool when she's driving her Ford Mustang. She's planning a respray of the car when she's paid her last loan instalment.

Kate Mullen admits she is something of a girl-racer. The Brit who drives a bright red 2006 Ford Mustang GT, named her car Delilah, after the fabled temptress who stole the strength of her lover Samson, for money. It's a telling sign that this 35-year-old PR exec puts herself firmly in the driving seat. "When I slip behind the wheel," she confesses, "it makes me feel confident, strong and ever so slightly cool.

"I always liked Mustangs. I saw my first watching Beverly Hills 90210 - Brandon Walsh drove one, and I thought it was the hottest car," she wistfully recalls. Fast forward to the day after her 10th wedding anniversary, and what began as a shopping trip for a Ford Expedition, was disrupted when Kate caught sight of the shiny red Mustang. "I fell instantly in love," she says. "The car sold itself, I didn't need any persuading. And besides, I've yet to meet a real car dealer here. They don't know very much about what they are trying to sell."

Out on the open road, Kate has taken the car to 180kph on the motorway, with an itch to go faster, and the 4.6L V8 can certainly take the pace. Accelerating from 0-100kph in 5.2 seconds means that Kate joins the large number of Mustang owners in the emirates that leave other cars in their wake. "My car definitely reflects my aggressiveness. But at the same time deflects my nervousness. She actually gives me the courage to push harder, "says Kate. "For example, if someone is tailgating me on the road I have a bad habit of slamming on the brakes to shake them off. They usually back down."

Scared? You should be. Because this little road demon's aggressive attitude can translate in the harshest of rebukes if you get on the wrong side of her. "Delilah is perfect apart from a few Jumeirah Jane dings in her. One very stupid lady backed into her when she was only 12 days old. Needless to say, she got the sharp end of my tongue!" The car is set for a respray once the final payments have been made on the loan. Meanwhile, Kate is content with ripping up Mirdif's quiet residential lanes, with a mix of Mozart, Imogen Heap, industrial metal, and Britney Spears blasting from her open windows. "I've never been accused of being a typically female driver. In fact, I get irritated with female drivers being too slow and overly cautious."

When it comes to shifting over to the passenger seat, she's quite happy to hand over the reins of her trusty steed. "It's nice to be able to share her with others. Like a baby, she always comes back to me. But some of my female friends have been nervous - she has quite a lot of throat on her." Instead, her husband, deemed an excellent driver for his ability to command the car to the tunes of her favourite American heavy metal, is the one most likely to take the wheel from racy Kate.

Having moved to the UAE 22 years ago, she took her test in Dubai, and believes that the city's driving culture is somewhat unique. "I can understand people not liking it, but when I compare driving speeds on the motorways of the UK with here, we are actually going slower." Like many others, Kate takes advantage of the UAE's favourable car and fuel prices, buying the dream car that would be out of reach in her home country. "I would never be able to insure or fill this car in the UK, never mind the fact that it would probably be on bricks by the end of the first week!"

Kate considers herself unusually savvy on the subject of automobiles. When put on the spot, Kate confidently explains the functions of a camshaft. "It regulates the fuel and air mixtures in the engine. I would say I'm pretty good for a female. I can identify cars by their shapes, tell you what make and model they are. I also know that I should not touch anything under the hood. Saying that, I can change a tyre and put water in the right holes."

So, if you happen to be cruising uptown on a Friday afternoon and you hear a thumping bass and the throaty roar of a V8, don't blink, or you may just miss her. motoring@thenational.ae