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The classic car scene in the UAE seems to have aggressively expanded in the passed 5 years. I remember when seeing a 1960s Mustang was something to mention, but nowadays they seem to pop up at every corner. However, the sudden influx of classics has allowed many special cars to land on our sandy shores. Over the years I’ve spotted some cars I would have never imaged to see - this is made easy by showrooms like Tomini Classics, Nostalgia Classic Cars and of course by some very dedicated petrolheads like Gilbert Ayoub.

I first met Gilbert Ayoub at a Caffeine and Machine event last year. Like any of us, he loves his cars and loves sharing the passion. He runs an instagram account @jagmaniacs and Facebook page Jaguar Club of Arabia, focused on getting the classic Jaguar community under one roof. He brought his beautiful open top XK120 that day and when we spoke he mentioned he also owned a XK120 Fixed Head Coupe. I was eager to get a feature done on either one of his cars. Fast forward a few months and we were shooting away in an isolated alley in the Zaabeel gardens.

Obtained in 2014, Gilbert bought this red beauty - chassis #6797859, one of approximately 2700 worldwide - from an American family based Oakland, USA. The seller’s grandfather (a doctor) had bought it from one of his patients who used to race it. It was used for house calls throughout the 60s and 70s. It eventually ended up in barn in 1986, where it sat until Gilbert bought it.
Like any car that’s been sitting for over 20 years, it needed some repairs. The granddaughter of the original owner did some restoration work before selling, but only enough to help find a buyer. Gilbert continued with the repairs at Max Garage once he got the car. The engine and transmission had to be taken out to get refurbished, suspension, brakes, bushings, etc all had to be replaced. I asked him if it was a complicated process to find parts for a car built in 1952 with such few examples - he told me that whenever he could, he would scavenge or buy an original part, the rest would be manufactured replicas by companies like Coventry Auto Parts or SNG Barratt that specialize in Jaguar spare parts.
The body was left original as it suffered close to rust damage because it sat in a dry area over the years. You can still see some scratches and dents here and there which were left on purpose by Gilbert. I think it gives the car a certain charm and character. It looks like it gets used often, which as it turns out, it does.
Along with the Open Two Seater, Gilbert drives this Jaguar daily. He refuses to have them sit as garage queens - rightfully so, what’s the point of owning any car if you are not going to drive it? They are used to commute to work everyday and in the summer months he just rents a Mitsubishi Lancer until the weather gets better.
I was really inspired by his commitment to have these cars on the road as often as possible. I think it adds a lot to the car culture of a city where we are saturated with the newest and most expensive toys from the big Italian brands. And it’s not just me - or petrolheads - that appreciate this sort of classic car; Gilbert mentioned he always gets the thumbs up when driving and is always received by with a smile when people see his cars.
This point has me thinking: do all these classics we see around really get driven as often as they deserve? Or do they only show up at your local car meets or once every few months on Jumeirah Beach Road? Would you daily drive your classic?