Emirate Classic Car Festival Dubai

 “The bombshell was the recreation of a 1958 Porsche 356 Zagato,” said Patrick Rollet, president of the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA). Rollet was one of the judges at the eighth edition of the Emirates Classic Car Festival on March 25-27 in Dubai. “For me it’s a good thing that someone is spending time and money to revitalise something that would otherwise have disappeared forever,” he said. “This festival is one of the good events on the world stage, because there are cars I haven’t seen anywhere else.” 

While best of show went to the more sedate 1950 Mercedes 170S Cabriolet, it was the elusive 356 Zagato Speedster that got people talking. The original car had a tragic history. French gentleman racer Claude Storez commissioned a new 356 Speedster from Porsche and the chassis was sent to Milan, where Zagato designed a lighter, more aerodynamic aluminium body that was delivered in August 1958. Storez enjoyed considerable success until he crashed fatally at Reims in February 1959, while contesting the Rallye des Routes du Nord. The wrecked car subsequently disappeared.

American collector Herb Wetanson recently asked Zagato Classic to recreate the legendary 356. Using original drawings and 3D imaging of vintage photographs, nine cars were produced and the fourth of these was unveiled at the Dubai festival. 

The Emirates Classic Car Festival was organised by development company Emaar Properties in association with the Automobile Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates (ATCUAE), a member of FIVA. The streets of downtown Dubai were decorated with 100 years of motoring history. More than 400 vehicles lined the palm-fringed Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. 

The 14-time FIA Middle East rally champion Mohammed Ben Sulayem, ATCUAE president, opened the show and presented the awards. “Each year this event grows in terms of numbers and car quality,” he said. “Now it’s easier to import cars that you find on the internet and the festival encourages people to aim for the standard of the best cars on display.”

A concours d’élégance was staged within the festival and highlights included a 1976 Lancia Stratos, purchased from Austria in 2013 by Imtiaz Shaikh of Tomini Classics Dubai with just 43,000 kilometres on the clock. “This car was purpose-built to win rallies,” the new owner said. “I love its no-compromise shape and timeless design.” It won the best design award, while Shaikh’s 1974 Ferrari 246 GTS Dino drove off with the Emaar award. 

New this year was an on-site build-off, during which a 1923 Ford Model T was delivered to the boulevard in pieces and assembled during the festival.

 “Dubai is a motor city with a real passion for cars,” said judge Florian Zimmermann, one-time head of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Stuttgart and now head of the Vintage Car Company. “Within the last few years this show has been a major catalyst in the rise of interest in classics. People can buy with confidence because access to spare parts in the UAE is becoming easier and a support network is expanding.” Dave Saunders