It’s a common place for exotic cars. As a matter of fact, on a good day, you can spot supercars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis and even Porsches in the car park at the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.
But visitors to the hotel aren’t stopping by to click photos of these cars anymore. They’ve found something more unique and exotic to photograph. They’ve got the exclusive opportunity to click photos of 13 stunning cars, some of which are one-offs and some more than 80 years old.
Among the exclusive collection lies a one-off “Hamad” Jeep Wrangler, which has been named after its owner, Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, aka the “Rainbow Sheikh”.
The SUV, which is based on a Jeep Wrangler and a Ford F-550, has since been tagged by many as the “Giant Spider”.
Also among the collection lies a giant six-wheeled Nissan Patrol, which is registered in Abu Dhabi. Finished in royal black and wrapped in whitewall tyres, the Patrol is truly a cut above the usual SUVs found on the roads today.
However, only when you pass these two gigantic SUVs will you begin to notice the sheer magnificence of what lies beyond.
First in line is a blue Bugatti Type 23 from 1926. Once upon a time, the car ruled the racetracks at Le Mans in France but today, the car rests in the safe hands of the caretakers in the hotel’s basement exhibition area.
Next in line is a yellow Citroen 2CV alongside a gorgeous red 1964 Volkswagen Beetle.
Following that lie two of America’s finest cars – the 1948 Ford Super Deluxe and the 1964 Ford Deluxe – both of which are worth tens of thousands of rials.
Also among the collection are two of the very best from Germany – a 1970 BMW 3.0 CSi and a 1990 BMW M3 finished in carmaker’s traditional racing stripes. The 3.0 CSi is also a special edition car with badges commemorating Oman’s 30th National Day.
Meanwhile, newer cars such as a 2000 Mercedes-Benz CL600 as well as a souped up 2007 Peugeot 406 coupe are also on display.
“New cars may look good and work better but there’s nothing quite like taking the steering of a vintage car. That’s something not many in today’s day and age would know of,” says Solomon, an avid car enthusiast, who was visiting the museum.
“As a matter of fact, not many are even blessed with an opportunity to witness the sheer beauty of cars that were made back in the day. It was a time when cars were made by people who actually loved cars.
“Today, many carmakers solely focus on selling the car and nothing more. The entire feel of owning and driving a car has slowly dissipated. And cars like these are a saving grace. I tend to come here to look at these cars to remind myself of the good old days.
“Passion, grace and majesty: that’s what these cars are all about,” he says.
This collection of ultra-rare cars is housed in the Al Mazaar Edutainment Centre, which is in the basement of the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah. There is no entrance fee and it is open from 9am to 8pm, seven days a week.