x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

My car: Living the Mustang dream

Leonard Theng dreamed of owning a Mustang in Malaysia - but lives the dream in Dubai.

Leonard Theng has been fascinated with American muscle cars since he was a child, when he came to Dubai he was able to fulfil his dream.
Leonard Theng has been fascinated with American muscle cars since he was a child, when he came to Dubai he was able to fulfil his dream.

In Malaysia, Leonard Theng's home country, Mustangs are a rare sight on the roads, but when he moved to Dubai, he took advantage of the fact that this most American of muscle cars is far more readily available.

"I have always been fascinated by the Mustang since I was a kid and had an opportunity to get one here in Dubai," says Theng, the director of sales and marketing for City Centre Hotel and Residence. "In Malaysia, we have continental [European] and Japanese cars but we do not import American cars for the masses."

Theng drives a white 2006 Ford Mustang with a 4.0L V6 engine. "I have also upgraded to OZ 18" sports rims and Goodyear Isometric tyres," he says proudly.

Mustangs certainly have a reputation for being appealing, fast cars, especially after the classic car chase sequence in Bullitt with Steve McQueen at the wheel and this is no exception for Theng, but he is also impressed that his car is not quite the gas-guzzler one might expect from a 4.0L V6: "I love the car as it has amazed me at how well American muscle cars have improved on their handling, cornering and fuel efficiency."

Over the years, Theng has owned an eclectic array of cars before settling on his beloved Mustang. Other cars to have graced his garage include the practical Honda Accord, the quirky Citroen ZX, the largely sensible Volvo S40 Turbo and the Perdana V6, which Theng explains is "a Malaysian production" - 2.0L luxury saloon manufactured by Proton.

He has also been the owner of a 1970 Mercedes-Benz SE. "It was the one that has the goldfish-looking lights, which was really cool," he says.

For now Theng is enjoying the equally cool Mustang on the UAE's motorways and byways.

"I find the conditions of the roads to be fantastic and I hardly ever come across potholes," he says. "And we have some great B-roads to kick back and go for a cruise too."

As much as he enjoys the good quality roads here, Theng is not alone in his disdain for some of the less than charitable road manners on display in the Emirates.

"What I dislike is the mannerism of those drivers who cut in and out as and when they want, tailgating with the 'get out of my way' flashing of their highlights," he says, exasperated at the thought of it.

However, if Theng ever owns his ideal car, the tailgaters and light-flashers of the UAE would be a tiny blip in his rear view mirror.

"Ultimately, my dream would be to get a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640," he says.

It is a car he is so taken by that he easily rattles off the specs. "There is really no compromise with the attitude of a car with 631 horsepower V12 engine and it blasts off from zero to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds."

While the mighty Murcielago is not yet in Theng's garage, he has already had a close encounter with the car at home in Malaysia, although whether he reached the speeds Sebastian Vettel hit when he won this year's Malaysian Grand Prix is unclear.

"I have had a fantastic experience with the Lambo club back in Kuala Lumpur where we took the car for a spin at the Malaysian F1 Track," he says. But in the meantime, Theng is having plenty of fun with his Mustang - and minding his manners in the process.