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Old 21st September 2009, 01:04   #1
rxpaul's Avatar
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Default Yes..i am finally here

Hi all,
I am rxpaul from Pune, a chemical engr by profession, married with one kid. Been a auto freak, since childhood. This is my first post (in any kind of public forum). I have been browsing thro' Team-bhp for about 3 yrs. Was out in the middle east for 5 yrs. Have driven a lot of cars- Camry,corolla,sunny,Tida,Proton, Chev Lumina and owned an old old E36 (shed tears when i sold it) there.

Anyhow i am back in Pune and after a lot of test drives, finally settled for a company owned Skoda Octavia 1.8 TPI. Other than dumb headlights and a electric switch board type gear lever (yes it sounds & feels like that), the car is GREAT and i love it. GTO's 27th March post and the subsequent Skoda horror stories have given me the gitters. 9 months & 7300 kms of running and no problems yet- keeping my fingers crossed. I do want to prove all the Skoda baiters wrong heh heh.

Well....the best day in my life ? The day i drove my friend's Chev Lumina from Riyadh to Dammam in a dust storm at night pedal to metal !!!

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Old 21st September 2009, 07:31   #2
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hi Paul, Welcome ! You seem to have driven a range of cars & makes. After 3 years of browsing, and your years of driving, I think you'll soon be participating in a range of topics here.

The Octy by itself is a lovely car, and looks like you really love it. I myself love the styling. It's not the cars are bad - IMO it's more about the how things are done by Skoda.

Do stop by the Rules & Regulations section. And shout out if you need help.

I'd love to hear about that RUH-Dammam drive. Any pics from that day ?
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Old 21st September 2009, 16:30   #3
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Hi Condor,
Thanks for the warm welcome. Yes I have driven a lot of cars, but I am more of an armchair analyst ? on automobiles.
I will try to put across what happened on the most exciting day of my life.

Riyadh to Dammam in a Chevy Lumina – 400 kms

My friend J used to come to Dammam from Dubai for sales visits and on one such visit in Apr 2008 asked me
“ Hi i am planning to go to Riyadh this week end, you wanna come ?”
Me “ Oh no I’ve had enough of those boring train journeys to Riyadh”

J “ No man not train, by car ”
Me “ So which car then ?”

J “ Lumina, It gets real boring to drive there alone and also if you are willing to share the driving, it will be great”
Me (to my self – “Drive a Lumina……Lord I would die to drive the Lumina”). “ Yes yes yes J, count me in , I am coming”

Well let me digress here :
The Dammam – Riyad road is about 400 kms of almost straight six lane roads with speed limits of 120kph (which most do not observe) and with a few speed cameras scattered here and there. The weather was great, the skys were blue and what better entertainment than a long long drive in the deserts of Saudi Arabia !

Now about The LUMINA – The Chevy Lumina is none other than the rebadged Aussie bred Holden Commodore/ Pontiac GTO. An old school car, RWD, long sloping bonnet with a longitudinal mounted engine, 3.6 lit V- 6 engine, approx 200 bhp. A big sleek car, heavyish kind of steering wheel, good road manners, a modern muscle car ? and as common on the Middle east roads as the Maruti Swift is in on our roads. It would also come with a V8, a rumbling 5.7 lit engine with 350 bhp output. I had earlier driven a Lumina in the city and found it a bit lacking (as compared to the Toyota Camry) on low end power. It felt more like a purring tabby cat rather than the ferocious tiger I thought it was.

But it was a car with a reputation. It was a favorite with the Arab crowd, while we Indians would mostly stick to the Jap corolla, sunny, civic. It was also a known gas guzzler, but with petrol being Rs 9/ lit who cared ! In a world of front wheel drives, there is nothing like mashing your foot into the accelerator of a RWD hooligan car.. (Most ME cars are automatic and not manual geared). But to be frank i was not much impressed with that city drive and was waiting for just an opportunity as this one, ‘a loooooong drive’.

Coming back to base, J and me had an uneventful drive from Dammam to Riyadh. J was sticking to the speed limit and occasionally speeding to 160 kph. The front passenger seat was not too comfortable, being low slung (like our OHC) and so I was not at all happy when J said that he would drive as he was not tired. We heard some music and chatted about our old Pune days (J is also from Pune), but the main thought in my mind’ O when am I going to get my hands on this mean machine’.

On the way back from Riyadh to Dammam at about 6pm, the weather suddenly changed….it started to drizzle (a rare sight in Arabia), so J again preferred to stick to the wheel. However the rain gods decided to stop after an hour, so after a small stop and a snack, J finally, finally handed over the keys. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, I took over and gently stabbed the pedal, inducing a muted glottal roar from the V6. Slotting the lever on to ‘drive” the car surged ahead. J started dozing, while I took the beast upto 120 and then to 130.

My drive
In India while on long drives I used to follow the principle of following a Pacecar What I mean is that I used to follow or track behind ( at a safe distance) the fastest driven car. This would mean that all I had to do was to concentrate on his brake lights and if that pacecar braked for a sudden hidden speed breaker or a crossing buffalo or a running dog, the red brake lights ahead would flash and be a red alert for me to stomp down the brakes too.

So on this road to Damman I started pacing behind a car at a steady 130. It started to rain once again and then a sand storm. In the desert a sand storm means that all the cars start slowing down, as sand tends to swirl across the road and sometimes cover it too. This combination of sand and rain was slowing all my pacecars until a big Camry Taxi overtook me. This Taxi was moving at about 150 kph and with a ‘now or never’ i squeezed the pedal down to follow behind. The rain and sand was belting down fiercer than before as I trailed behind the camry its twin tail lights gleaming in the dark. After about 15 minutes of playing follow the leader, the Taxi guy realised that I was tailing him and began to rap up his speed. I stayed behind him until about 160 kph. The Camry guy was showing no signs of letting down, so with J now awake and gently clearing this throat, I decided to quit and slowed down. The Taxi vanished into the darkness.

Some half an hour of steady driving at 150 (no pacecars ahead), the rain and dust still swirling around, i saw fast approaching headlights seek out my RVM. ‘O it must be a BMW or a Benz……let em go’. The car came behind our Lumina, flashed its lights, honked and overtook. Now in countries other than india, honking is akin to insult. IT WAS THE SAME TAXI ALL OVER AGAIN. (possibly the guy must have stopped on the way to drop off some passenger). He overtook…..the Lumina. My blood was up, so I followed. 150…160…170..180…185. Now it was he who was not going any faster. Possibly he chickened out or rather his Camry did. Meanwhile the Lumina was rock steady, sounding sensational and blooming with every blip of throttle. We touched a indicated speed of 190+ on the speedo that night.


Last edited by Jaggu : 21st September 2009 at 17:38. Reason: Removing [Font] tags, please preview before submitting and avoid copy paste from external font editors, Thanks
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