x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

My Car: Z06 Corvette, Jeep SRT8, or Chevrolet Lumina SS?

Customer business relations manager Maraat Ali Khan is spoilt for choice when it comes to his morning drive to work.

December 11, 2011, Dubai, UAE:  Maraat Ali Khan with his Chevrolet Lumina SS Coupe on the left and his Corvette (2008) on the right.  He added an new exhaust system, headers (to make the car go faster) and performance breaks to the Lumina.    Lee Hoagland/The NationalMaraat Ali Khan has a tough choice between the Chevrolet Lumina SS Coupé, left, and his Z06 Corvette when it comes to going to work in the morning.
December 11, 2011, Dubai, UAE: Maraat Ali Khan with his Chevrolet Lumina SS Coupe on the left and his Corvette (2008) on the right. He added an new exhaust system, headers (to make the car go faster) and performance breaks to the Lumina. Lee Hoagland/The NationalMaraat Ali Khan has a tough choice between the Chevrolet Lumina SS Coupé, left, and his Z06 Corvette when it comes to going to work in the morning.

How many muscle cars does one man need? Three, as it turns out.

The biggest struggle most people have in the morning is over which tie to wear with their suit, or whether to opt for the muffins or the toast. For Proctor & Gamble customer business development manager Maraat Ali Khan, 40, the choices are more acute, yet no less daunting: which of his three V8 cars should he drive to work - the Z06 Corvette, the Jeep SRT8 or the modded-out Chevrolet Lumina SS?

Fittingly for a man whose cars output a combined total of more than 1,300hp, he started in something far more pedestrian but, through some clever wangling on his part, quickly moved up the ladder.

"My first car was a Hyundai Sonata. When I joined British American Tobacco, they basically gave me a Toyota Corolla station wagon, which was eventually upgraded to a Jeep Wrangler. Then I convinced the company to invest in the four-door Lumina," he recalls.

The four-door Lumina introduced him to the world of high-performance V8s and, soon enough, he had his own Lumina SS coupé. But the hit of speed was too much to resist and he set about modifying it into something more personal.

"It's got a PBR sports brake package, exhaust system with headers, a programmed CPU and a slightly modified sound system with subwoofer and so on," he lists. "At the dyno it makes something like 410hp; in 2003, the car made around 320hp."

In true UAE style, he had to add a body kit as well. "The body kit is completely unique from Australia. After I bought it, the company went bankrupt, so replacement parts aren't available anymore. You can't find another one - unless you're willing to drive to someone in Sharjah who'll copy it for you," he adds, laughing.

Never much of a track head, Khan spent a few autocross sessions with the Evolve club, where he performed reasonably well. Emboldened by his success, he took it to Umm Al Qaiwain to take part in the local drag racing sessions. Once again, early success ensued, but he soon met his match - a humble four-door Nissan.

"I went up against a souped-up Maxima, which was just ridiculous. I don't know what he had done to his engine, but there was no bonnet. Was it close? Yeah, but let's not go there …" he says.

When he heard that an even more powerful version of his car was coming in the form of the CR8, he immediately went down to then-dealer Al Yousuf Motors to see about an upgrade. As fate would have it, on the showroom floor was the new 505hp Corvette Z06. The rest, as they say, is history.

"This is obviously before I got married, so I thought, 'why not'? It's a pretty sexy-looking car," Khan says. "I've now had it for three years, in which time I've covered 80,000km. That's a lot, but I love driving this car. Jeremy Clarkson may have said that it's not a road car because the tyres are too noisy … well, put the sound system up and enjoy that instead."

Ironically enough, marriage proved the impetus for his most recent purchase, as his new wife needed a car and nothing in his stable was terribly suitable. "She said, 'I needed to have a family car, something that has more than two doors.' Well, naturally, I thought of the Jeep SRT8."

A 425hp road-only SUV is hardly the ideal family car but, for Khan, it was the only logical choice. And, he jumps to his own defence - he didn't make the decision on his own. "I did run it by my wife and explained the beast that it is. She liked the colour - that's the only comment she had," he laughs.

"Is she a speed person? No, not at all. She doesn't need to drive that fast, but I do."

The trio of cars are evenly spread in their use; the Lumina is employed for the daily drive to work, the Corvette makes an appearance on casual Thursdays and during the weekend, while the Jeep is used by his wife. But it's the last car that's slowly worming its way into his heart.

"Obviously, it's not as powerful, but the whole experience is far more comfortable, and then there's that ability to ride higher up. There is a new one out but I'm comfortable with the one I've got because it's got more of an aggressive look and it's got the dual exhaust tips," he says.

"The best part is that, when you're driving on the road at about 110kph, it's quiet. The moment you put down your foot, it gets serious."

Modified street racer, weekend toy and now a big SUV - it's clear that Khan is passing rapidly through the three stages of adulthood. But he's vehement that he'll never buy an old man's luxury car.

"Who am I kidding here? I have to admit it. Middle aged, family; it's the truth. Would I go to something even more luxurious? Honestly, I've seen a lot of people having Mercs and Audis, but I don't find them value for money. You pay a heck of a lot for the name but that's it."