There are cars that you have to drive, good cars that you want to own, great cars that you wish you could have, and legends that leave you hushed and awestruck, drinking in their magnificence from a respectful distance, thankful simply that the gods of motoring deemed fit to bless us with such creations.
Any single one of these can leave you pointing and gasping and stammering and salivating. Now imagine five, no ten, no fifteen, no fifty or sixty under one roof. How would you react? For myself I can report I went weak at the knees and regressed to a shouting, pointing child who couldn’t believe he’d just ended up in the best sweet shop in all the world!
This was at Tomini Classics on Umm Suqeim Road in Al Barsha, Dubai, right here in the United Arab Emirates. The stunning collection of post-war classics are housed in the global headquarters of Tomini Group – which operates primarily in the spheres of shipping and real estate.
Classic are also listed on the group’s main website and you can find out more (and arrange an appointment to see the cars) by visiting http://TominiClassics.com. But whilst nearly all the cars are available for sale (apart from a couple of the Ferraris) this is first and foremost a private collection.
And it was sired by the group principal, who as a kid had a poster of a Jaguar E-Type on his bedroom wall. But it wasn’t until 2010 when, on impulse, he bought a 1967 Jaguar E-Type 4.2-litre coupe. That was it, the bug bit, and he’s been buying the best of the best classics ever since. Today he has around 140 cars, 90 of them in them in UAE, with others stored in Europe and the US.
It’s an eclectic mix too, each one a stunning example of the breed and an absolute gem, varying from a 1951 Volkswagen Split window Beetle with an original 10,000km on the clock and stunningly presented, to a 2005 Ford GT – the latter day GT40 revival car.
Scroll down for our full gallery of pictures. Here are some of the highlights of the collection.
Ferrari 330 GTO and 330 P4 race car
Off the bat I have to make a clarification, because the last time we posted a story about Tomini Classics (read here) a lot of questions were raised, and understandably so, about what appeared to be a Ferrari 250 GTO and a Ferrari 330 P4 race car.
In fact these are both replicas and this is clearly indicated both at the venue and on the Tomini website. The first car is labelled a 330 GTO (which succeeded the 250 but was lengthened slightly with a larger 4.0-litre engine). This particular car also features a 330 engine, but is replica built in 1992 on a Ferrari chassis. It’s track-prepared (effectively a race car with roll-cage and needing high octane fuel).
There were only ever three Ferrari 330 P4 race cars made in 1967 and even two of those have had to have had replica bodies regrafted onto them. This car is a replica built in 1998 by renowned specialist Bob Norwood, built from the ground up using Ferrari parts as much as possible. Both these are unofficially accepted by Ferrari as legitimate replica cars.
1976 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 Periscope
This exquisitely restored Countach finished in Blu Tahiti paint, is one of the earliest of the wedged-shaped Lambos, shorn of spoilers and skirts. This thing doesn’t even have wing mirrors (although some owners have added these later) because there is a special scoop in the roof for the interior rear view mirror.
Of course visibility is still crap anyway, but this is the purest form of what is widely regarded as the ultimate supercar – the poster car for generations of boys – so we’d forgive it anything. It still looks utterly breathtaking. This car comes with a letter from the legendary Lamborghini test driver himself, Valentino Balboni. It’s one of three Countachs in the collection.
1961 Jaguar E-Type Roadster
It all started with an E-Type and now they have several in the collection, both coupes and roadsters, including this 4.2 straight-six said to have been good for 0-100kph in about 7.7seconds and 246kph. This one was restored in the UK and fitted with modern cooling and brakes.
1976 Lancia Stratos
It’s incredibly rare to see a Lancia Stratos HF (a legendary rally car that won the WRC in 1974, 75 and 76) anywhere, let alone in Dubai. And this road-going example fitted with the same Ferrari Dino 2.4-litre V6 that powered it to all those championships, is a sublime example. I used to follow rallying when I was younger and for me this was superhero of a car!
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
For me the 300SL is the one with the wings instead of regular doors – i.e. the Gullwing. This convertible version doesn’t really register than much in my mind. Don’t worry though, they have one of those in the collection too. Out front on the main floor on this occasion however (they rotate the cars around regularly) sits this gorgeous fully restored Roadster. It’s without doubt one of the most glamorous Mercs ever.
1985 Ferrari 288 GTO
I call this the Cosby Car, because that is what it is. I find it so cool that famous comedian and actor, Bill Cosby owned this car for 12 years. He didn’t drive it much though, because with just over a thousand kilometers on the clock, it’s one of the lowest mileage and original 288 GTOs around. It’s one of my very favorite Ferraris, second to the F40 in awesomeness, but ahead of it in terms of allure and desirability (they also had an ex-Cosby F40 but it’s already sold). I ache to drive this.
1966 Lamborghini 350 GT
This was Lamborghini’s first ever production car – now I won’t get into the whole Ferruccio Lamborghini versus Enzo Ferrari alleged quarrel that gave rise to the second most famous name in the Italian supercar industry, but it’s the stuff of myth and legend which I’ll save for another time. Production actually started in 1964 and this car is from towards the end of the life cycle. It has only 39,000km and was featured on the cover of Sports car magazine (March 1966 issue).
1966 Ford GT40 MkII
The Ford GT40 is a legend in the world of motor racing, and was born for a grudge match between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari after the latter reneged on an agreement to sell Ferrari to Ford. Henry wanted to get revenge where it would hurt Enzo – on the track. This he did with the GT40 which took four consecutive overall victories at Le Mans. This particular car is another authentic replica, built by Superformance in 2006 and fitted with a Roush engine.
1999 Lamborghini Diablo GT
The race and track-orientated Diablo GT had a stripped down interior, bigger engine and only 80 were ever made. This particular car is number 32. This beast had a 6.0-litre V12 producing 575bhp through a five-speed rear wheel drive set-up. It must scare the shit out of people, because it’s only been driven 1500km.
1965 Aston Martin DB5
Yes, it’s the Bond car. But this one is in British Racing Green rather than 007’s silver car. Two Aston Martin DB5s were built for Goldfinger, one with, and one without, the famous gadgets added to it by special effects expert John Stears. In the novel the car driven by the British superspy was a DB Mark III, but the studio wanted the latest car. In fact the main car used in the film was a prototype as Aston rushed to get them a DB5. This green car won overall best of show in the Emaar Classic Car festival last year. Unsurprisingly the Tomini group has won the show three times.
1972 Ferrari 246 GTS Dino
Another legend and a staple of the myth of Ferrari, although these cars were in fact named in honour of Enzo’s son who died in 1956, and were not originally badged ‘Ferrari’, as they were meant to be more affordable rivals to Porsche. This exquisite yellow car only has 12,000km on it.
1988 Porsche 959
This is not just a great car, it’s a moment in time, a turning point, a marker in the compendium of motoring; it is when supercars got clever and it defined the technological template for every Porsche going forward. Of the 283 made, 83 were for racing, and the remaining cars, labelled ‘Komfort’ were road versions. This one only has 14,000km on it. Any chance of a go?
They have two – both replicas. The blue car is a 1966 Factory Five racing Shelby Cobra 427, and the black car is a 1965 Superformance MkIII featuring a fearsome 7.2-litre V8 fettled by Roush which only has about 1300km on the clock, mostly because, I suspect, everyone is terrified of driving it. These are the scariest cars on the planet!
1967 Iso Grifo GL
Another rare treat is this lovely Iso Grifo, fully restored in the late 1990s by specialist Salvatore Diamante. Built in Italy between 1963-74, it was designed by ex-Ferrari chief engineer, Giotto Bizzarrini, whilst the body was by Giorgetto Giugiaro (Lotus Esprit designer). Bizzarrini dubbed this an ‘improved GTO’ as he had worked on the Ferrari 250 GTO, so in some ways this was a successor, except that it had a 5.4-litre V8 Corvette engine.
1976 Ferrari 308 GTB Vetroresina
One of the prettiest Ferrari’s ever and still a template design for sexy mid-engined supercars. Designed by Pininfarina’s serial-Ferrari designer, Leonardo Fioravanti, the 308 is probably best known for its starring role in Magnum, P.I. where it shared screen space with its moustachioed sidekick, Tom Selleck. This car is the earlier fibre glass version of which only 808 were made out of 12,000 308s produced. Rare and rust-free!
This two-tone 308 was sold in Monaco and features an F1 Casino-area access badge in the window. Inside there’s an 8-track player and a collection of 25 tapes featuring Elvis, Little Richie, the Beatles and more!
1973 Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera RS
To Porsche 911 fans, these cars will need no introduction. The 2.7 Carrera RS is probably the most collectable of all the classic 911s, and there are two here. The difference between them is not just in the shade of colour: the white car is the road-going ‘Komfort’ version (this restored car has a certificate of authenticity) and the green car is the slightly racier ‘lightweight’ version. Together they make for an adorable pair that’s for sure. Which would you drive first?
1992 Ferrari 512 TR (Testarossa)
I know it’s a 512 TR which actually replaced the Ferrari Testarossa, but it still has pop-up lights so as far as I’m concerned it’s still a Testarossa – the ultimate 1980s Ferrari (I’m not so keen on the later 512 M). There are few cars wilder and wider than this, it’s the automotive expression of shoulder pads and the sheer excess of that emboldened decade, as evidenced by its starring role in white in hit TV series, Miami Vice.
1960 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB
Described as one of the jewels of the collection, that’s hardly surprising as these can go for up to $10m. Having told you that, you’ll wince when I tell you that it was a 250 GT California Spyder that went backwards out of the garage window in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – don’t worry, that was actually a fibreglass-bodied replica based on an MG! This blue car is the real deal of course, and utterly stunning to behold.
1972 Lamborghini Espada
They have two of these in the collection (this silver car and another 73 model on the way). A swoopy and spectacular four-door supercar from Lamborghini, it featured a 4.0-litre V12 and was the marque’s biggest seller until the Countach came along – though that only means 1217 were made. The eccentric looks means it’s not as highly sought after, which actually makes it an affordable classic. And with its four seats, makes one wonder if it could be run as a daily driver still.
1992 Jaguar XJ220
‘Voluptuous’ is a word that might have been created just for the Jaguar XJ220, this is one sexy big cat! Only 275 were made between 1992-94, but it fell it a little short of the humungous concept car’s promises, rather than a V12 and 4WD, it got a 3.5-litre twin turbo V6 producing 540bhp and rear-wheel drive. This still give it a 0-100 time of under four seconds and a top speed of 213mph (340kph) rather than the 220mph the name promised. This car is a left-hand drive and only has 2000km on the clock.
Just seeing one of these is a dream come true, they had four of these in the collection (only 1315 were made), but have sold two. Frankly this is a car that simply needs no introduction. Arguably it gave birth to the notion of ‘hypercars’ – those elite motors that live in a stratosphere beyond supercars. Standing in its presence, all I could think of was: ‘I’m not worthy’. That’s the sort of automotive divinity this is.
1973 Lotus Elan Sprint
Technically advanced, mechanically simple with a lightweight backbone chassis and fibreglass body (just 680kg) these little coupes and roadsters were a bit hit for Lotus in the 1960s. This particular Sprint has just 10,000km from new, is all-original and has never been restored. It’s delightful and adorable, and you just want to pick it up and take it home with you!
1967 Ferrari 330 GTC
We’ll finish with this beautiful 67 330 GTC, because as well as being highly desirable and genuinely easy to drive and live with for a Ferrari of that era, it’s also an actual film star. It appeared in 2007’s American Gangster which was set in 1968 and starred Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Well actually it was more of an extra – I haven’t seen the movie, but I don’t think it was driven. Still Crowe’s bum might have been in this car!