The strangest car collection
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5th Jan 2020 6:00 am
The car collection in question belongs to Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan’s and it is displayed at the Emirates National Auto Museum.
Take a look at some of the zaniest, craziest and most unique cars that are on display at the Emirates National Auto Museum.
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World's largest SUV
In the lower half it's an Oshkosh M1075, an all-terrain 10-wheeler truck more usually deployed by the US Army, while on the top it's a Jeep Wrangler. Overall power comes from a 15.2-litre Caterpillar diesel that’s good for 600hp. It's a cool 10.8m-long (35ft) and 3.2m (10ft) high.
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The giant Land Rover
The Emirates National Auto Museum is located in a pyramid-shaped building that’s about an hour away from central Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. You know you’ve arrived when you see a mammoth replica of a Land Rover Series 3.
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The giant Jeep
This is a 21ft-tall replica of a Willys Jeep, complete with a shovel and an axe mounted on the driver’s side of the body. It rarely moves but it’s drivable from a seat hidden behind the grille and it's certified by Guinness as the largest Jeep replica in the world.
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Mercedes-Benz W116 monster truck
This is a Mercedes-Benz W116 that’s turned into a monster truck and parked in front of the museum. It was developed and built to be used but it hasn’t turned a wheel in quite some time.
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Mercedes-Benz R107 SL
Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan’s fascination with the colours of the rainbow earned him the nickname Rainbow Sheikh. It can be seen on this R107-generation Mercedes-Benz SL that sports rainbow accents and has all its chrome accents plated in gold.
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Mercedes-Benz 500SEC by Styling Garage
Hamburg-based tuner Styling Garage modified this 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC by widening the wheel arches, adding custom bumpers on both ends and installing a pair of gull-wing doors.
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Mercedes-Benz designed the 600 limousine to carry the world’s wealthiest individuals so it’s no surprise to see one in the Rainbow Sheikh’s collection. Made in 1977, this short-wheelbase example is in immaculate condition, inside and out.
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The V123 was the factory-produced long-wheelbase version of the Mercedes-Benz W123. Don’t let the SUV-like ground clearance fool you; it shouldn’t ride higher than a regular W123 but it’s propped up by sturdy pieces of wood.
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Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL
Used for parades and special events, this Mercedes-Benz W126 received a multi-coloured paint job, in addition to a wider rear track and a pair of side exhaust pipes. Note that the interior is just as colourful as the exterior.
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The rainbow Mercedes-Benz 500 SELs
The Rainbow Sheikh ordered seven new Mercedes-Benz W126s for his wedding and asked that each one be painted in one of the colours of the rainbow, with matching upholstery inside. Paint aside, the seven cars are identical.
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Mercedes-Benz 1001 SEL
Mercedes-Benz never made a car named 1001 SEL; tuner Gemballa did. Starting with a 500 SEL, the firm added gold trim, alloy wheels plus lavish interior appointments like complete leather upholstery, a TV and privacy curtains.
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The Citroën DS – a staple in just about every car museum around the world – stands out as one of the few French cars in the Rainbow Sheikh’s collection. He chose a later, fuel-injected model.
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Rare even in its home country of France, the Teilhol Tangara was a Citroën 2CV-based beach car designed to pick up where the Mehari left off. The car has a 2CV-sourced 602cc flat-twin engine and this one is a rare example fitted with four-wheel drive.
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The stickers on this Fiat 500 indicate it spent the bulk of its life in Treviso, an Italian town located a stone’s throw from Venice. Peeking inside the car reveals it was originally painted in an uncommon shade of orange.
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Volkswagen Beetle dune buggy
This Volkswagen Beetle was transformed into a dune buggy in the UAE. It lost its four fenders, running boards and original lights during the conversion and it gained massive tyres. The model looks markedly different than the dune buggies made in US and UK.
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The Sheikh has several variations of the Mini in his collection and none are rainbow-themed. This Moke is in near-new condition, as evidenced by the plastic wrappers still on the seats. The yellow headlight bulbs suggest the model was originally sold in France.
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French mini car manufacturer Erad had released the Junior in 1988 and fitted it with headlights from a Peugeot 205, in order to keep costs in check. Yet, it went through the trouble of making the windshield, the roof and the doors into a single unit that could be removed to go topless.
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Premier acquired a license to build the 1100D in India and the necessary tooling from Fiat in 1973, and made the car with only minor changes until 2000. Known as the Padmini from 1974 on, it was a hugely popular model.
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Premier Padmini convertible
Doggedly determined to keep the Padmini in production, Premier released an updated model named S1 in 1996. It received a new-look design with an updated grille and mechanical modifications. This example of the S1 has been alchemised into a convertible.
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The N is the car that put Honda on the map. It went on sale in 1967 as the N360 with – as its name implies – a 360cc two-cylinder engine. Honda stuffed a bigger, 600cc twin behind the grille to export the model to the US and Europe.
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Every member of the Subaru line-up traces its roots back to the homely 360. Developed to comply with Japan’s kei car regulations, the 360 got its name from the 360cc, two-cylinder engine mounted behind the passenger compartment.
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Daihatsu Midget II
As the name suggests, the Daihatsu Midget II is small and narrow, even by Japanese standards. Introduced in 1996 to compete in the kei car segment, the Midget II’s design is such that the driver sits right over the three-cylinder engine.
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One of Toyota’s most famous models, this particular Crown has documents taped to its rear windows suggesting it originated in Belgium. Minor battle scars such as superficial rust in the wheel arches and a bent front bumper suggest it was used regularly for most of its life.
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Enigmatic as its origins are, this left-hand-drive 1999 model seems to have been originally delivered outside of Japan and looks like it hasn’t been driven since.
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Imported from the US, this 280ZX joins several other Japanese imports in the museum. The NACA duct identifies it as one of the last examples built and the leather upholstery suggests it’s a high-spec model.
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Another enigma in the museum, the 1998 Endurance roadster is a Japanese-built two-seater that is likely based on an existing car. Additional information about it seems completely lost to history.
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Ford Crown Victoria
Known most famously as American taxis and police cars, there are surprisingly more Crown Victorias registered in Gulf Countries than in New York. The Sheikh owns two of the nicest ones around, including one that served as a highway patrol car.
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Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
This third-generation Trans Am joins the other American muscle cars in the Museum. Equipped with T-tops, this example is completely original and in like-new condition; odds are it was shipped from the US.
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Scaled-up Dodge Power Wagon
The original Dodge Power Wagon was a common sight on Emirati roads in the 1950s. This gigantic replica is undoubtedly the most impressive car amongst the Trucks and SUVs in the museum, and it actually runs.
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Standing on a row of the museum that’s mostly empty, signifying that the Sheikh still has the space to expand his vast collection, the dust on this iconic Willys Jeep reveals it hasn’t moved for a while.
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The black sheep of the Jeep family, the Jeepster was released in 1948 by Willys-Overland as a more road-focused alternative to the iconic CJ-2. This rear-wheel-drive convertible never really caught on; its production ended in just two short years.
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Jeep Grand Wagoneer
This late-model Jeep Grand Wagoneer preceded the first-generation Grand Cherokee, a model that many historians consider the first luxury SUV. It can be said then, that the Grand Wagoneer paved the way for the model that created one of the most successful segments of the modern age.
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The Dodge Ram Suburban that never was
This model is actually a 1995 Ram 2500 pickup converted into the Chevrolet Suburban-fighting SUV that Dodge refused to build during the 1990s. This isn’t the only example of this SUV because, although rare, this transformation wasn’t unheard of in America during the 1990s.
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Retro-styled Ford F-250
Modified to look like a 1966 F-series by a private UAE company, this unique 2010 Ford F-250 conversion features a grille and headlights from the 1960s, mounted on custom-made sheet metal. The step-side cargo box looks custom-made, too.
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Land Rover Series III
The Sheikh doesn’t discriminate when it comes to 4x4s, and although Toyota is the off-roader brand of choice in the Gulf countries, the Sheikh’s collection includes several Land Rovers, including a V8-powered 110 and 1972 Series III pickup.
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Toyota Land Cruiser
Referring to every off-roader as a Jeep is certainly a mistake that isn’t unheard of and it seems as though the museum is guilty of it, too. This 1984-model short-wheelbase Land Cruiser, built in 1999, comes with a soft-top roof and fold-down windscreen for a complete off-road experience.
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The Patrol stands out as one of the most popular SUVs in the UAE. This long-wheelbase, fourth-generation model is surrounded by the Rainbow Sheikh’s beloved stripe that earned him his nickname. It’s in mint condition, so was likely used for parades rather than dune-bashing.
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Big, powerful SUVs are the car of choice in Gulf countries, and although the Suzuki Jimny isn’t one, its mountain-goat-like off-road skills are difficult to argue against. The Sheikh clearly thinks the same; every generation of the tiny-but-capable SUV is represented in the museum – including the first-generation example pictured here.
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Another Suzuki Jimny
This Jimny was modified by a private Emirati company to include a fold-down windscreen as Suzuki never offered the third-generation model with one. Other modifications saw the car losing its top and doors, and gaining a tow-bar at the front.
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Manufactured under license in Tehran, Iran, the Zamyad Z24 is a Junior Nissan pickup. Although Nissan stopped building the third-generation model in 1982, Zamyad still manufactures it. The Sheikh’s example is a late-model one with fuel injection.
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Unlike many cars in the Sheikh’s collection, this G wagon looks like it’s spent a considerable amount of time off the beaten track. Its sports a detailed custom paintwork and comes equipped with a central tyre inflation system, a fold-down bull bar, and a rack for fuel cans.
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