Recently I had the chance to head to Dubai for a week and run some dealer training for Vipec. Dubai has always been on my ‘to-do’ list so it wasn’t a hard decision to make. From this side of the world we hear stories of unlimited budgets, gold plated Bentleys and a Ferrari at every set of lights. The stories aren’t far from the truth and Dubai is certainly an eye opener!
We were based out of Sub Zero Motorsport who have the reputation for building some of the fastest and most powerful cars in the UAE. They have a massive workshop employing around 40 staff, with three dynos (including a dedicated bike dyno), a fully equipped engine machine shop and a parts store that would rival the likes of Jegs or Summit.
The first thing that struck me was the number of R35 GTRs everywhere. On just one day, I counted 8 in the shop. I literally saw more R35 GTRs in a single week than we would see in a year back in NZ. That’s only half of it though. They were all packing at least 800 whp, built engines, upgraded turbos, upgraded transmissions and all the other bits associated with getting an R35 to be reliable at these sort of power levels.
Rashid, Sub Zero’s owner took us for a spin in his own 800 whp GTR to show what it was capable of. The car runs a 4.1 litre stroker engine, Sub Zero’s own Precision Turbo kit and tuning is handled with a COBB Access Port. On the road you wouldn’t know the car was modified. It is perfectly smooth and responsive – Even the AC works (which is kinda handy when the ambient temp can exceed 50 degrees C!).
The only give away is the slight whine from a straight cut first gear. Put your foot down though and the car forces your organs into your spinal cord. The acceleration is brutal, and the dual clutch transmission provides seamless power through the gearshifts. It really is a triumph of technology. At this power level, Sub Zero have carded 9.5 second passes at the strip. Tip in some race fuel though and the car will make 1200 whp and run into the high 8′s. Plus you can drive to and from the strip!
While GTR’s are big business in Dubai, some of the Arabs prefer a more practical ride in the form of Toyota’s Landcruiser or Nissan’s Patrol. Now neither of these were ever destined to be a performance car, but that is nothing a bunch of cash can’t fix. Take for example this Landcruiser we spied. From the outside it gives nothing away, but its fitted with a fully race prepped 1FZ-FE engine and a massive Precision 8285 turbo.
On pump gas it punches out a healthy 920 whp at 1.7 bar, but on C16 it makes an insane 1280 whp at 2.5 bar! For an idea of what these guys get up to in their down time, check this video of a Nissan Patrol dusting a Lambo (we didn’t shoot it so excuse the quality, but its too good not to share).
When you are surrounded by sand and you have a passion for massive power, it makes sense to combine the two – yup, sand drags are big business in the Middle East! Sub Zero are known for building some of the fastest sand drag cars in the Middle East and their own Landcruiser shows why.
A race-rprepped 1FZ-FE 4.5 litre straight 6 engine with a massive 105 mm Garrett turbocharger is the basis of the build. Up to 70 psi boost is enough to lay down in excess of 1700 whp. The entire package is controlled by a Vipec v88 ECU.
It’s no surprise that with these engines making so much power, failures are common. This is probably one of the attractions of the sport and one of the reasons it’s so popular – There is never a shortage of action. Or carnage. Check out the body work of Sub Zero’s Nissan Patrol sporting a hole from where a conrod exited the block!
To see the car in action, here is a short clip of Sub Zero’s Landcruiser winning the 2014 Liwa Hillclimb, despite blowing the head gasket on the start line. Credit to Bjp Race for the video. Subscribe to his channel for more insane action from Dubai.
There is more to any trip than just the cars though and we had a little time to look around Dubai. One thing you won’t find is alcohol, with the UAE being predominantly alcohol-free.
It’s a weird experience not being able to order a beer at a restaurant, but if you really do need to quench your thirst, alcohol is served at hotels.
This is a selection of the non-alcoholic beers available at a local service station. Extensive but none of them will have you lose your licence!
While Dubai is in the middle of the desert, you will also find the world’s largest indoor ski field, built right inside the Mall of the Emirates – which coincidentally was across the road from our hotel.
Dubai is very westernised now and the selection of food available is pretty wide and varied. While traditional Middle Eastern food is always on offer, we felt right at home seeing NZ’s very own ‘Burger Fuel’ chain. If you prefer, the US ‘Shake Shack’ is another easy option that is sure to pack on some pounds.
We also took in a little sight seeing including a compulsory visit to the Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building. You can take a ride to the top of this for about $40 NZD but my suggestion is don’t try it at 6 pm on a Friday night – The wait time was estimated at 3 hrs!
All good things come to an end though, and it was finally time to board the Emirates A380 and head back home. If you get the chance, Dubai is highly recommended. It is a very safe and friendly place to visit with plenty to see and do. If you love cars, its even better, but the shopping should also keep your other half occupied for a while too!
Thanks to Sub Zero for looking after us on our stay. You can check out what they do here.