x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

My Car: Architecture director's Ford F150 suits his outdoor lifestyle

Director loves his Ford F150 so much he plans to take it home with him to California when he leaves Dubai.

Motocross fan Robb Elliott uses his monster Ford pickup truck for his many outdoor pursuits. Mike Young / The National
Motocross fan Robb Elliott uses his monster Ford pickup truck for his many outdoor pursuits. Mike Young / The National

A friendly big gent from a close-knit surfing and farming community near Santa Cruz, northern California, 33-year-old Robb Elliott says most people in Dubai know him as the "country hick from Cali", and this outdoor enthusiast certainly has the car to match.

He owns a 2006 Ford F150 Lariat Crew Cab, which he uses to transport all his fishing buddies in. However, Elliott's truck doesn't entirely tally with his position as a business development director for interior architecture firm Bash Hesnef.

"So my car doesn't suit my job, but it's perfect for my personality and lifestyle. I love the outdoors and everything it has to offer," he says. "From hunting and spearfishing, to wakeboarding and motocross I try to spend most of my time being active - so there's always plenty to chuck in the truck."

In fact, Elliott proudly boasts that he has never owned a car in his life - only trucks. "I was 16 when my dad bought me my first truck. I'm a country guy through and through so a pickup truck is the only way to go. As an outdoor lover I always need something practical to carry all my toys and camping equipment. I also do a lot of motocross racing and riding so I need something to haul my dirt bike around in. I've been living in the UAE for five years now and I've needed to be pretty creative as an outdoors enthusiast - especially in the summer months.

"I'm from a place with year-round clement weather, lush forests, mountains, oceans and lakes, so adapting to the desert took some time but I've found enough sports and activities to keep me more than satisfied," he explains.

Bought at the end of 2007 at Ras Al Khor Auto Market in Dubai for Dh110,000, Elliott's F150 has a 5.4L Triton engine, delivering about 310hp at 5,000rpm and 495Nm of torque at 3,750rpm. It had a little under 40,000km on the clock when he bought it but this has been quadrupled over the past five years due to his active lifestyle.

And Elliott is quite partial to some modifications: "It has a new air intake system and I've added 35-inch Kumho mud terrain tyres and Borla exhaust system, which I personally modified to ensure it's the loudest truck on the road. I've also been contemplating putting a six-inch lift kit on it after the summer, even though it will cut my underground parking option to zero - all my trucks in the past have had a serious lift kit."

Clearly a laid-back and unpretentious person, Elliott says he won't sell the truck, which has sentimental value for him, and plans to ship it back to California when finished in Dubai and modify it for strictly off-road use.

"It'll be fun once I eventually return to California and tell stories about all the Dubai adventures whilst driving with my friends," he says nostalgically. "I grow attached to things that help me enjoy life; I don't buy designer clothes or shoes and I don't care if I have the most expensive watch as I would probably just destroy it."

However, the adventurous Yank nearly came a cropper in the F150 while watching the endurance motocross race in Umm Al Quwain. "When the event was over I took my truck out on the course at full pelt and, as I was driving towards the water, I noticed my truck handling strangely, almost as if it was on ice.

"I quickly realised it was mud and I was actually driving on the high tide mark where the ocean comes in. I knew if I didn't make it out I was going to be in a world of trouble. Luckily, just as my truck was about to get stuck I threw it into four-wheel-drive and kept my RPMs high. Slipping and sliding and spitting mud everywhere, I barely made it back out."

"It was a very close call and I was far from the road and any help. Needless to say my truck was caked in salty mud and it took me four hours to get her clean again. At least I salvaged my dignity and didn't get my rig stuck in the mud and have to explain the story to my friends," he laughs.

Elliott also used to ride professionally with Husqvarna/Tri star motocross team and helped build and design the current DMX motocross track in Jebel Ali while on the committee back in 2010. He even spent some of his spare time building the track using a tractor over the scorching summer months. We wouldn't expect anything less from this big-hearted dynamo.