Friday, 25 April 2014

Emirates National Auto Museum

Today we took a little road trip in the afternoon, out to the Emirates National Auto Museum, which is located about 45 km south of the city. Well, it's not really an official museum as such but a huge collection of favourite vehicles collected by Sheikh Hamad bin Hamad Al Nahyan.

Already outside, we found some of the strangest vehicles we've ever seen. This is the famous spherical globe trailer, built to a scale of 1:1 million. It apparently has 10 bedrooms inside:

And also this monster of a caravan, the size of a four storey building - which entered the Guinness Book Of Records in 1993 as the biggest caravan in the world!


Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, also affectionately known as the Rainbow Sheikh (for reasons I'll get to later in this post), has had this 100mx100m big pyramid building purposely built to showcase parts of his collection. He the proud owner of one of the largest collections of cars in the world and around 200 of his cars and trucks are stored here in the Emirates National Auto Museum

Most of the cars were bought or ordered by the Sheikh, while others were given as gifts. There is a vast array of vehicles in this museum. Included in the collection are classics, luxury cars, jeeps, pick-ups, trucks, military vehicles, antiques and several specially made one-offs or odd cars.
Like this very cool space looking one - disco is definitely not dead!

There was plenty of cars to admire, Land Rovers, 1950s classics, futuristic cars etc. One military vehicle even had a golf putting range on top!

Lucas found a car manufactured in Sweden!

True to his name, a number of vehicles had a rainbow logo painted into them, along with matching seats, interiors and hubcaps. Can you see me?


The exhibition is not constant because everything must be free to move, lest the owner suddenly wishes to drive one of his cars. It's no coincidence that the path around the displays are marked up like roads! Here we found a few empty spaces in one of the rows:


One of the more known parts of the exhibit is the 'Rainbow Collection' - one Mercedes Benz 500 SEL in each colour of the rainbow, for each day of the week! It was a wedding gift from Sheikh Hamad's father-in-law, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE.
They say that the production line in Germany shut down for some time to build these special cars for the Sheikh back in 1983. All the seven cars have matching leather interiors, and there are also refrigerators and television sets on the vehicles, with customized painting to keep with the rainbow theme. Finally there are gun racks on the inside of the boot lid which hold three M16 rifles, also painted to match the cars! But of course!


The most impressive piece of the whole exhibit I must say though, was this:

Talk about a BEAST!

Yes, this is the largest truck in the world! This too is in the Guinness Book Of Records. It's a Dodge Power Wagon eight times the original size, it measures 5m high and 8m wide - and it weighs about 50 tonnes.
This truck was helping people in the beginning of the oil era, so it was built by the Sheikh as kind of a monument, an exact replica down to the smallest detail. The engine is not very big, but it can move and has a steering wheel and a driver's seat. The size of the truck was only limited by the size of the wheels that they could get their hands on while building it, these came from an oil transporter. The wipers are the ones used in an ocean liner. On the inside there are four bedrooms, a kitchen, a sitting room and a balcony.

Here's a shot with Dodges in three different sizes! From big to small.

The kids found a cool ball pit to play in!

It was a very cool excursion, not too far to drive, and something for everyone in our little group. A must place to go here in Abu Dhabi, if you have the slightest interest at all in cars. Well worth the drive and the Dhs50 entrance fee!
I found an (old!) Top Gear clip, where Jeremy Clarkson visits and interviews the Rainbow Sheihk, watch it here if you want to see the big Dodge in action.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! It looks like you're really enjoying your time in Abu Dhabi! I've spent 11 years there myself. Seeing your snaps of the auto museum reminded me of the same trip I'd made back in 2008! Have a good time! The city's got a LOT to offer. I am on my way to becoming a pilot soon and it's great to know that your husband flies for Etihad! I've flown the airline numerous times myself.