Meet the Rally Fighter

Posted by Mark

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The Rally Fighter is a badass looking car designed and built by the US company Local Motors. It was recently featured in the latest Transformers movie, in Jay Leno’s Garage, Top Gear and it’s also in Forza Horizon 2 which comes out today on the Xbox One. It’s a very rare car and we are lucky to have two in Kuwait (same owner). I first found out about the Rally Fighters coming to Kuwait by mistake, back at the end of 2013 Local Motors posted a video on YouTube in which they mentioned they were building two cars for a client in Kuwait and then in a second video they mentioned that Rally Fighter cars might end up being built in Kuwait as well. I posted those two videos and luckily for me the owner of the two cars also happens to read my blog. He contacted me right after I posted the first video and told me he’d let me in on the whole story as well as let me take one of the cars out for a spin once they arrived. Fast forward to last week and I finally got the call to take one of the cars out.

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The Rally Fighter isn’t a mass produced car, it’s kind of a kit car but not really and there is nothing on the road that looks like it. The Rally Fighter looks like a car from Mad Max or a car that was built out of other cars right after a world apocalypse. Calling it badass is really an understatement. The car is pretty high off the ground and has large tires so if you’re not tall, getting into it will be an accomplishment. When I first got in the first thing I noticed was how poor the visibility was. Right in front of me I had the front left car pillar which would usually be located further left and out of my direct line of sight. Because the pillar was right in front of me it made the car feel claustrophobic and the whole seating position didn’t help either. The foot pedals were really far away and I had to move the seat pretty close to the steering wheel to be able to touch them and I’m 6’1 so shorter people would definitely have issues. The steering wheel also wasn’t very adjustable and in my seating position I couldn’t see the speedometer because the steering wheel was covering it. This proved to be an issue on the highway when I was struggling not to speed and get caught by the cameras. The foot pedals were also pretty far apart so the natural way to drive the car is one foot on the brake and the other on the gas like a proper rally driver.

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I picked up the car from Starbucks in Bida’a and headed from there out towards my favorite spot in the desert so I could take some photos. The Rally Fighter has a V8 6.2L 430HP engine so trying to keep it from exceeding 120km/h on the highway was difficult. What made the task even harder was that I couldn’t really see how fast I was going because the steering wheel was covering the speedometer. The ride to my spot was long and this is definitely not a car I would want to take on long highway trips. It was a hot day and the AC couldn’t keep up so it was pretty warm in the car, I would hate to be driving this in the middle of July. The interior is pretty barebones and feels cheap. They ordered a carbon fiber trim but that turned out to be carbon fiber stickers which were haphazardly stuck on the dashboard. The leather trim on top of the dashboard had already separated from the dashboard because of the heat and the windows left a gap at the top which not only let in hot air from the outside but would also let in rain come winter. The interior felt like a kit car even though the car isn’t priced like one (more on that later). While the car looked great from the outside the interior was so bland that I had trouble trying to capture a nice shot of it. The car is a two door but it does have rear seats although it’s made for kids since any adult sitting the back would either hit their head on the rear window or the roll cage.

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I’ve driven quite a few interesting cars and been in even more but I’ve never driven one or been in one that garnered as much attention as the Rally Fighter. Cars were literally hovering around me from every angle on the highway trying to record video or take photos of it. I’m fairly positive there is a video of me on YouTube driving the car. It sticks out on the road like a soar thumb and no one has any idea what the hell it is. This brings me to the next subject on why I think the price is crazy yet not so crazy as well. The base price of the car starts at around $100,000. With the options, shipping and registration in Kuwait you’ll end up paying around KD40,000. For that price you could pick up both a Porsche Cayman and a Ford Raptor (which is just as capable off-road) so yeah I do think 40K is over priced. But, there is another way to look at this as well. This isn’t an everyday car, this isn’t a car you’ll trade in your comfy saloon for, this is a car built with a specific task and so it’s a rich mans toy, it’s your third or forth car. I don’t know of any other car at this price range or less that captures as much attention as this, maybe the KTM Xbow or the Aerial Atom but there really aren’t that many. In a market where no one gives a Ferrari or McLaren a second glance, the Rally Fighter with all the attention is gets seems like good value at 40K. But, the owner seems to think the car isn’t ready for the GCC market just yet which is why he’s abandoned plans of opening a Rally Fighter factory in Kuwait.


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The New Scrap Yard Location

Posted by Mark

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Back in April the government forced all the scrap yards in Amghara to close down and relocate to a new location further up north near the Saudi border. The previous location used to be located off of the 6th Ring Road, around 10-15 minutes from 360 Mall but the new location is around 45 minutes further away from that location. I’ve been wanting to visit the place but I kept putting it off because I thought it was too far away until yesterday I decided to finally check it out.

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Before I headed out I filled up my car with a full tank of gas, got a few bottles of water with me and set up a music play list. If this was going to be a long trip I wanted to make sure it was a comfortable one. The location of the new yards was on the same road as the Ali Al Salem Air Base, an area I know pretty well since it’s where I usually drive to when I take cars on a test drive. It’s very easy to get to, you just take the 6th Ring Road and drive north until you see an exit for Ali Al Salem Air Base, you then take it and drive 30 minutes further down past the base until you see the scrap yards on your right hand side. It’s not complicated and I have the exact location linked at the end of the post.

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Once I got near the scrap yard location I noticed a small sign on the main road, it had a Mercedes logo and an arrow pointing right so I exited the main road headed down a dirt road towards the area. It suddenly felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic future where I was driving in the middle of the desert looking for supplies and I just found this small lawless city. It literally was a city in the middle of the desert surrounded by sand on all four sides.

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When I finally got to the junkyards the sight was very familiar, different fenced up yards all located side by side with each one specializing in a style or brand of vehicles. I wasn’t looking for anything so I just drove around scouting the area before heading back to the city.

The journey really wasn’t bad at all, there is never any traffic on that road and it’s really peaceful. If you’re interested in heading out there, here is the location on [Google Maps]


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From Jahra to London

Posted by Mark


[YouTube]

This has to be the coolest thing I’ve seen in such a long time (or at least since the last time I said that), it’s like the khaleeji version of Gumball 3000. If this was a reality show I’d be sitting in front of my TV watching it all day long. Did they all drive to London? I’m guessing they drove since it would explain the previous video of two of the cars doing donuts in what looks like the Alps. How long would that even take? I have so many questions!


[YouTube]

Check out the rest of the videos below.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Donuts in the Alps

Posted by Mark

I got the video above by Whatsapp of two old cars from Kuwait in what looks like a Swiss backdrop. Even though it’s wrong I find this hilarious. [YouTube]

drift


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A Porsche Spyder from Kuwait in London

Posted by Mark

Someone recently spotted a Porsche 918 Spyder from Kuwait in London and recorded a video of it. Not sure what hotel is in the video but based on all the Kuwaiti cars parked there you’d think it was a hotel in Kuwait. The Spyder starts at KD265,000 but the one in the video is a modified Oakley Design model and might possibly be the first and only Spyder in Kuwait at the moment. [YouTube]

spyder


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Crowdsourcing the Police Work

Posted by Mark

metrash

I shot the video below while waiting at a traffic light a couple of nights ago. I noticed the car on my left was creeping forward and figured they were most likely going to run a red light so I started recording the car. A few seconds later as expected, the car ran a red light for absolutely no logical reason. But running a red light, driving on the emergency lane or parking illegally are just very common occurrences because people rarely get punished for their actions.


[YouTube]

So why don’t we crowdsource the police work? Awhile back when I posted about the Deera App in which you could report garbage around Kuwait, a reader emailed me and told me about how in Qatar you could report traffic violations using their app called Metrash2 (You can watch one of their ads for Metrash2 below). So why don’t we do the same in Kuwait? People are already taking photos of people people illegally parking in handicap spots or people driving on emergency lanes. So why not allow these incidents to be officially reported like the Metrash2 app?


[YouTube]


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Ramadan Traffic with Google Maps

Posted by Mark

googletraffic

Traffic during Ramadan is a hot mess. The roads are either empty or they look like a scene from an apocalyptic film where everyone is trying to escape the city. But, there is one thing I’ve doing this Ramadan and that is checking the real time traffic information on Google Maps before heading anywhere. Google Maps on iOS and Android both have an option that allows you to overlay traffic information on top of the map. So, before I head to a destination I just take a quick glance over the route to make sure it isn’t covered with lots of red lines, if they are I’ll just try to find another route.

If you’re looking for away to avoid traffic, this could help you out a bit.


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Uber Kuwait? Kinda…

Posted by Mark

easytaxi

Over the weekend Uber launched their services in Beirut which means Uber is now available in Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Uber is probably going to launch in Kuwait one day but until they do there currently is a service running in Kuwait that is kinda like Uber, it’s called Easy Taxi.

Easy Taxi is an app that’s available on iOS, Android and Windows phones and once you install it and sign up allows you to request a taxi. If you’re not familiar with how Uber or other taxi apps work its pretty simple. Whenever you need a cab you launch the app which will automatically pinpoint your location. Once your location is found a button becomes active allowing you to request a cab. When you click the button it starts scanning the area looking for available taxis. I tried it when I was at Sultan Center in Shaab and found 5 taxis in my vicinity. I confirmed the cab request and it told me the cab was 7 minutes away and that I could chat with the driver or give him a call if I needed to. The app also gave me the cars description and license plate number so I could recognize it once it arrives.

It’s pretty similar to Uber taxi except for the fact you can’t get a fare quote before requesting the cab nor can you pay for your cab using your credit card or PayPal account. But, until Uber comes to Kuwait this is a pretty good alternative. For more information on Easy Taxi just visit their website [Here]

Thanks Roberto


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First Drive: Porsche Macan S

Posted by Mark

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The Porsche Macan S is Porsche’s new crossover SUV that just recently joined their lineup as the baby Cayenne. But, unlike the Cayenne the Macan has one thing that’s really going for it, it has the hottest rear end of any crossover on the market right now. I just loved the design of the lights on the back which is why I took so many pictures of it. Getting to test drive the Macan wasn’t that easy. Back in early May I emailed my contact at Porsche and asked them if I could borrow the Macan over the weekend. Turns out there was a two months waiting period since the Macan was fully booked every weekend. So, I put my name on the list and waited and waited until I got the call last week telling me to pass by and pick up the car.

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When I first sat inside the Macan the first thing I realized was how much smaller it was than I had expected it to be. It was pretty compact and felt more like a large hatchback instead of a small SUV. The second thing I noticed was all the buttons going down the center console. I love buttons, but the amount of buttons going down the center of the Macan was just intimidating. I drove off the lot and headed onto the highway and thats when things started getting pretty impressive. Because the Macan is a pretty small and low car, it handles and feels like a small sports car. The engine is a 340HP V6 twin-turbo which is more than enough to get you some speeding tickets. The car is pretty fast… and extremely extremely quiet. Probably too quiet because when you’re on the highway its very difficult to tell how fast you’re going unless you’re constantly looking at your speedometer. You can’t hear anything, not the engine noise, wind noise or even road noise. Porsche did an amazing job with the sound isolation.

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Speaking of sound, the Macan I drove came with the optional Bose sound system. I am generally not a fan of Bose sound systems and if I hadn’t heard it I would have recommend to shell out KD1,370 for the optional Burmester sound system when buying the car. But, after spending a weekend with the Bose sound system I have to say I was impressed and it’s just a KD340 option. At low volumes the Bose can be a bit boomy but it’s very capable at high volumes and I was listening to a variety of music from electronic to indie. The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) which is the cars stereo was also very practical. Its a touch screen which makes getting to controls quick and it’s also iPhone compatible. I was able to stream music either via USB located in the center console storage compartment or via bluetooth.

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It was getting close to the golden hour so I decided to head out into the desert to take some photos of the car. The Macan is an all wheel drive car that comes off-road ready, there’s even a button marked “OFF-ROAD” which when pressed will adjust the cars various settings including ride height and traction settings in preparation for an off-road trail. I didn’t venture much off the tarmac since I didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the middle of nowhere but the little I did go off-road, the Macan handled well. But, it was mostly soft sand and nothing too deep to really test the car out in.

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Later that day I picked up some friends and headed out to dinner. Although the Macan is a 4-door car, the rear passengers don’t have much legroom. It’s a pretty tight space and even getting in and out of the rear seats isn’t very graceful. But, no one really complained or asked for the front seats to be pushed forward so that’s a good thing. It probably has to do with the fact it’s a Porsche and looks like a sports car so people don’t expect much legroom in the first place. The roof height on the other hand was perfectly fine even with the optional panorama roof which my car had.

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Once the weekend was over and I gave back the car did I realize how practical of a car the Macan was. I’ve been considering getting a sports car for some time now, a car that would compliment my current FJ Cruiser. The Macan though is two cars in one, it drives like a sports car but has the flexibility of an SUV albeit not the same full capabilities as either one. It’s an all round car, a crossover and one that works really well. Price wise the Macan is pretty reasonable starting at around KD20,000 for the S model and KD28,000 for the Turbo. I custom built a Macan S on the Porsche Kuwait website and pimped it out with all the options I wanted and ended up with a model thats around KD24,000 before the discount. Unlike in some other countries, many of the optional features come standard in Kuwait so even if you go for the base model, you’re still getting a lot of car. My color recommendation? Agate Grey for the exterior with the Monochrome Black exterior package and black leather sport seats for the interior.


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Flashing Lights on the Highway

Posted by Mark

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What are these flashing lights on the side of the highway supposed to mean? Originally I had heard when they’re flashing it means you could drive on the emergency lane and that they only flash during rush hour. But, they’re now flashing during the evenings even when there isn’t traffic.


[YouTube]


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