I was surely quite young then. At-least younger. Maybe I had just turned fourteen. Shoaib had just got his drivers license then. My Abu had let him drive the Merc around then.
Please do not fantasize that this Merc is some sleek white modern vehicle. No, she was beautiful and my Mummy called her, Abu’s Delicate Darling. This Mercedes 300E was from an early 80’s model of the E 300 series. A bulky, heavy muscular beaut. Three litre engine capable of producing 178 hp, that would thrust the rear wheels into motion, when we flipped that little switch that allowed you to choose between S and E. E being economic consumption mode. You guess which mode the switch was on this drive. She had twelve valves working the beast of a heart she had. In the S mode she was capable of flying off from a signal that had just turned green, on the streets of Bur Dubai. A white Toyota Supra in the lane to the right of us. This young boy with a cap was in it, riding shotgun was his Indian Girlfriend. Shoaib was driving the Delicate Darling and I was riding Shotgun.
We flew off from the signal as it turned green, the supra’s sleek japanese engineering had it flying off the start in three seconds, it was at least sixty meters ahead of us.Shoaib changes the gear from second to third using the semi-trip-tonic German gear system allowing us to start from 1st gear then go up till third and switch to Automatic gear. In three seconds from the light turning green, the beastly heart of the Merc came alive. The rear wheels propelled, the weight trying to hold us down. We feel the front of the chassis lift a little, the weight shifts, and we fly….from zero to hundred in 8 seconds.
This is what she was capable off.
This one Friday morning, my Abu task’s Shoaib to go the laundry and get the clothes for Friday Prayers. Shoaib tasks me to come with him. So that I can go get the clothes while he double parks the car outside the laundry in Meena Bazaar.
Once we get the clothes, we decide to go for a little drive. We get to the roundabout, between Opc area and Meena Bazaar, next to the Museum. Bur Dubai , Dubai. From that roundabout, this two lane road goes all the way past this road running parallel to the corniche at the Dubai Creek. The road starts from Al Fahidi Street, next to the Rulers Court and runs for over a kilometer, past the British Consulate and to the end of the Creek. Its a beautiful day, and Shoaib wants to take her on.
As soon was we exit the tiny clock roundabout, he flicks the switch. We start of from the first gear. As soon as he hits second his pedal is all the way to the metal. Third gear and we begin to fly. There are some other cars on the road, but they are far and wide in different lanes this early on a Friday morning. We fly between them, the Delicate Darling laughing her wide smile in the wind, flowing on this perfect date palm lined road between these cars. The windows all down. Both of our bodies pumping obscene amounts of Adrenaline.
After some seven hundred meters of this the road begins to curve, you may see it here.
The i6 cylinders being pumped by the twelve valves. The engine generating about 230NM of Torque. We just about start hitting One Hundred and Seventy Kilometers an hour. The road is curving this long stretch. Now, the Merc does not have the tires of a Nissan 350z or a modern day sleek White Merc.
This beaut had been driven by a German man in Germany for the first eleven years of her life. She was then shipped in either a Roro Vessel (Roll on Roll Off Vessel) Or along with a lot more second hand German Mercs in containers. I know this because Abu’s life’s career was Shipping.
Her muscular body was throwing the back out, the wheels beginning to slip out. We can feel it, both of us. The wheels were seconds from giving way to an extremely hard to control drift. Especially on this two lane, Date Palm lined road. For a few moments stitched together, our bodies gave us respite from the Adrenaline. For these brief moments, everything became slow but none of that flashing thing the normally would have you believe. And I would know I have been in the same situation a total of three times in my life.
Just simply the complete helplessness of realizing you are only here for the ride. You no longer have any control of how this situation is going to play out. You will watch, and that is all you will do. You will live these moments strung together. The rest of it, you really do not even ever live. Those normal moments.
She swings to the right, her back slipping off left, the screeching starts. The front wheels hit the right pavement, so her front swings to the left now, Shoaib is trying to have the steering wheel tell her to go right. But really there was no control. At this point both of us were simply just audience in this place. Not scared. Not really thinking. But actually living in that moment with absolute no idea of what is about to happen. No panic, absolutely no panic. Just calm and watching.
Some smoke, I can smell a little burnt rubber.
Shoaib is now swinging the steering wheel to the left, he has got it all the way it can go. Merc is swinging to the right. At least her front is, the back is slipping out beautifully on the dance floor of the road to the left, while constantly being pulled by the front to the right.
At this point the front of the car is pointing some 30 Degrees off the angle it should be facing normally on this road. The angle shifts almost instantaneously. Almost suddenly, yet perfectly beautiful and kind of expected in the moment. The angle shifts to 45 degrees to the left. 45 degrees left from where it should be facing on the road. The front wheels hit the left pavement the back in a swift motion goes from left to the right and calmly eases out. She climbs up the centre divider footpath of the road. Finally comes to a stop. She almost hit a Date Palm tree.
One of the Wheel-caps had popped off so Shoaib went to get them with the car still parked here on the centre divider. As soon as he gets them and puts them in the car, and is about to start, a Police car pulls up on the opposite side of the road. He kindly asks if everything is Ok? Or whether we need any help. We didn’t.
Shoaib starts the car and we drive away. The wheel alignment of the Delicate Darling was now totally off. One hub-cap no longer fits. She seems a little bit more older. My Abu really loved that car. Eventually he bough a Prado so that all six of us could go out together. Shoaib got to drive the Merc to almost her grave. Gave her the best years of her life. Like I did with Alenaor, My ’98 Mitsubishi Gallant. Also, a considerable amount to time