x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Sports car fan from youth has his own dream ride in Nissan 350Z

My Car Dubai resident Jon Pryor feels a cruising 4x4 may be better for him, but five years on he still can't tear himself away from his sporty Nissan.

Communications firm director Jon Pryor bought his Nissan 350Z from a work colleague when he arrived in Dubai, rather than delving into an unknown used car market. Charles Crowell for The National
Communications firm director Jon Pryor bought his Nissan 350Z from a work colleague when he arrived in Dubai, rather than delving into an unknown used car market. Charles Crowell for The National

Having completed the London and Barcelona marathons, plus the Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah half marathons, 37-year-old Jon Pryor is also the owner of an unusual little runner.

The director for communications firm Impact Porter Novelli arrived in Dubai from his home in Birmingham, UK, around five years ago, and, being new to the emirate, he thought it safer to purchase his new set of wheels from a work colleague instead of facing the used car lottery. His decision turned out to be a good one, as he is still the proud owner of the 2007 black Nissan 350Z.

With a GCC-spec 3.5L V6 and six-speed manual transmission, the Nissan produces 306hp and is fitted with minor modifications, including front and rear cameras and tinted windows. "I felt very proud when buying this car, as I'd always driven boring company cars, such as Renault Lagunas, which made me feel like the comedy character Alan Partridge," Pryor says.

"I never thought I'd end up one day with a sports car, so I don't take it for granted. I grew up watching movies such as Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit, so I love cars and two seats in a car to me means sports car," he explains with genuine enthusiasm.

And it's not only the idea of driving a sports car and the Nissan's mean good looks that have Pryor hooked, as he also appreciates what lies beneath the bonnet. "The car makes a great sound, so the first real 'moment' I shared with it was when I took it for its inaugural drive and felt the noise and power as I hit the accelerator," he explains.

"It soon became clear the 350Z holds the road fantastically well, with great grip from wide-profile tyres, but it's a lively beast and has sent me a few reminders when I've pushed it a little too hard." Pryor's 350Z is a manual, which is not a common feature in cars in the UAE but it is one of his favourite features. "I think a sports car needs to be manual to get the best out of the drive - it allows you to drop a few gears and hear the revs for some road-legal enjoyment," he says, with a mischievous grin. "I was used to manual transmission driving in the UK, so probably had this in mind anyway but, given the performance of the car, I felt manual gears was the correct choice."

Pryor has spent most of his life hankering for a Porsche, an ambition that was reconfirmed during a student summer spent in the US, when a buddy who had been blessed with a job in a Porsche garage used to take him on crazy weekends driving borrowed Porsche Targas.

However, despite his five-year love affair with the Nissan, Pryor is now looking for a different drive. "My commute to work is down SZR from JLT to Emirates Towers via no less than 10 speed cameras, so I'm now looking for a comfortable, high-ride 4x4 automatic I can enjoy cruising in. The amount of motorway driving is also a factor as there's less opportunity to change up and down gears and put it through its paces. Then there's the large number of traffic jams on Sheikh Zayed Road, which makes changing up and down from second to third gear a tiring process after a while," he explains.

Pryor's extensive motoring throughout the UAE for both work and pleasure has racked up the mileage, which is now hitting the 95,000km mark. However, the trusty Nissan doesn't appear to have noticed and is still running as smoothly and trouble-free as when he first bought it. "I still love my car and when I see it or hear the exhaust noise, I always instantly change my mind about replacing it. I think the car knows this fact and is doing its best to make sure we don't part," he laughs. Indeed, it's a major decision to end a five-year love affair.