The Saudi traditional automotive collector brings a bit of historical past to the guts of the KSA desert
MAKKAH: Collecting cars is more than a hobby for some auto enthusiasts as many seek to obtain objects that appear frozen in time.
Every classic car is a small piece of history that tells a story. It is not just an automobile, but a personal story of the designer, manufacturer and buyer.
It’s also a survival story with the automotive industry producing faster, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient cars that lack the details of classic vehicles for decades.
Classic cars were created in an analog world where designers used pencil and paper to create elegant shapes and flowing lines that are difficult to reproduce in today’s computer-based design world.
Dr. Nasser Al-Massari, a retired Saudi academic, has turned his love and passion for vintage cars into a personal museum in his Riyadh home, valued at up to $ 6.7 million.
Speaking to Arab News, he said that the oldest car he owns is from 1929 while the newest was made in 1979. Most are American cars. He repairs and restores them himself and holds weekly meetings with other classic car enthusiasts in the capital of the Kingdom of Riyadh.
His passion for classic cars began when he was 19 working in Florence, Italy, where he ran his father’s company in 1978. There he took part in the famous Mille Miglia classic car and classic car race and was immediately enthusiastic.
• The oldest car is from 1929, the newest was made in 1979. Most are American cars. Dr. Nasser Al-Massari repairs and restores them himself and holds weekly meetings with other classic car enthusiasts in the kingdom.
• His passion for classic cars began when he was 19 working in Florence, Italy, where he ran his father’s company in 1978. There he took part in the famous Mille Miglia classic car and classic car race and was immediately enthusiastic.
• Al-Massari jokingly described his hobby as “luxury car hunting fever,” which led him to store newly purchased vehicles in his neighbor’s garage while he was in LA.
“The beauty of the cars was something else – the lines and the high-quality workmanship were incredible. They had an aesthetic quality, ”he said.
In 1983, King Saud University sent Al-Massari to the United States on a scholarship for his Masters in San Diego, California. He made his first car purchase a year later, buying a 1946 Cadillac Series 62 for $ 4,600. He drove the beauty from Denver, Colorado to San Diego.
He then completed a Ph.D. and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1989. He attributed the main growth of his collection to his time in LA in the early 1980s, when the city was already known as a playground for wealthy Hollywood actors and celebrities. as well as a commercial and industrial center. Al-Massari jokingly described his hobby as “luxury car hunting fever,” which led him to store newly purchased vehicles in his neighbor’s garage while he was in LA.
“Scholarship holders in the USA have always found hobbies other than their studies. Some loved swimming, hiking, running and various sports, but owning classic cars was something I loved and that overtook any other sport or hobby, ”he said.
For more than 30 years, Al-Massari has been buying and selling cars to continuously expand and improve its collection, but has received 36 highly exclusive and rare vehicles, some of which are the only survivors of a fleet or series.
“It’s hard to say which would be my favorite. It’s like asking me who my favorite child is. But if I had to choose one of my cars, my favorite would be the 1929 Cadillac Boattail Speedster. It’s the only one in the world and it’s not for sale, ”he said, adding,“ It’s the bread and the Butter of the cars. “
I owned my first car when I was 15 and loved it. I would fix any little malfunction, and I believe that was when the fire ignited within me.
DR. Nasser Al-Massari
One could argue that the dashing two-seater Cadillac in two hues of pewter blue and sea blue is the creme de la creme of Al-Massari’s collection, but its lovely fleet, sitting in a cozy 2,000-square-foot garage, also includes an impressive selection from Buicks , Willys, Fiat, Chryslers, Chevrolets and Corvettes. Other notable cars include a pink Ford Thunderbird from 1956 and a Cadillac Seville, one of only 20 bought by Grandeur Motorcar Company in Florida.
It is clear from his collection that he prefers the Cadillac to others. “After living in the US for a long time, it’s the Rolls Royce of US cars and they are great,” said Al-Massari.
After his long career as an academic, he is not only passionate about buying rare finds, but also about the fascinating details of every single vehicle. Like many modern items, contemporary automobiles don’t always encourage a practical approach.
Modern cars are becoming increasingly digital and their mass-produced parts are often tinker-proof, which Al-Massari finds unattractive.
“The rarer the find, the better. I love looking under the hood and working on the cars and fixing them up if necessary. I love restoring it to its former glory – caring for it and working with a team. I enjoy rolling up my sleeves and working on it myself. Parts can be hard to come by – the older the model, the harder they are to find – but with databases, communities, societies, groups and clubs found all over the internet today, you will eventually find what you want, “said he
“I owned my first car when I was 15 years old and I really liked it. I would fix every little malfunction and I think the fire is kindled in me. “
And despite his countless purchases of rare vintage cars, Al-Massari still finds a thrill in buying a rare beauty.
He told Arab News that he is constantly on the hunt at auto auctions around the world, keeping a close eye on the rise and fall of prices, adding that he would like to turn his collection into a proper asset like real estate and stocks. Al-Massari is now aiming to own up to 50 cars on condition that they are among the rarest in the world, but the competition is fierce.
“Acquiring rare cars can be tough competition, especially with amateurs from around the world, dealers and the wealthy. Some cars are valued at $ 500,000 that could suddenly rise to more than $ 2 million due to competition, ”he said.
Al-Massari also wants to convert the garage into an official museum after obtaining the relevant permits. Since 2014, visitors to the Granada market in Riyadh have admired the best of Al-Massari’s collection, while he and a group of vintage car enthusiasts who founded a group called “Cars and Coffee” present their beauties in the open market every Friday morning.
“I still take my cars for a spin every week. A car is made to be driven, not on display, ”he said.