x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Museums are a look into history

Car museums can be enlightening, especially if you are accompanied by a mechanical expert / father.

A long time ago in a faraway land - when I was in college in Canada - my father came down for a brief visit. And I had a great idea to bring him to a local car museum that I had happened upon, one filled with classic cars from every era and from all over the world; I was sure he would be impressed.

And he was, initially. But as we walked by each car, my dad - a mechanic by trade - would stop and point and give some insightful information on the detailed workings of each. "This one is terrible to change the spark plugs; you have to lift out the whole engine." Or, "A guy I know had one of these, and when the fuel pump started to leak he sealed it with candle wax." Or, "The centre headlight of that Tucker moves with the steering; this car was really ahead of its time, and all the other car companies wanted to kill it."

The tour of the museum not only enlightened me on the mechanical intricacies and histories of the various classics there, but it also gave me more insight on the depth of my dad's knowledge and love of cars. It turned out I was the one who left impressed.

That's the beauty of these car museums; they can really surprise you. Plus, they give you a unique look at what was top-of-the-line engineering at the time, and what people a long time ago actually formed with their minds and their hands; the museums are kind of like archeological sites in that way.

You'll read on mo5 about the Mad Max museum in Australia, and you can check our Top 5 on mo8 for a few wild, classic car museums around the world - including one of our own, the Emirates National Auto Museum. And if you are at all into cars - and especially if you have kids who are - I heartily suggest you check it out, if you haven't already.

C'mon! It's just about an hour's drive from Abu Dhabi, and it's worth it. The museum - set in a giant pyramid that can be seen for kilometres in either direction - is filled with classic cars, old trucks that saw real service in the Emirates and even weird and wacky concepts. The centrepiece is, of course, the giant Dodge Ram pickup truck, along with a regular-size version for comparison. You can have a spot of lunch in the enormous Land Rover cafeteria that sits at the edge of the road - and don't forget to get a fresh juice at the shop beside the museum; those guys seem a little lonely and can use some company. I have no doubt the entire family will enjoy it.

We're blessed with another great museum in the UAE - the Sharjah Old Cars Club and Museum. What makes this one special is that, not only do they have a full range of classics on display (including one of the first Land Rovers in the country) but the facilities include a full auto shop where dedicated mechanics restore old cars to pristine condition. You can actually watch them as they strip down and rebuild various classics. If you're lucky, there may even be someone there to give you a guided tour of the shop and museum.

Unfortunately, my dad isn't available to show you around; sorry.

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This week, you can walk around all the shiny new cars at the Abu Dhabi International Motor Show, from Tuesday till Saturday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Not only will it display the latest and greatest vehicles available, but there will be an attempt at an indoor land speed record, an off-road course with Toyota and a kart track set up by the Al Ain Raceway. Of course, check next week for full coverage in Motoring.