Walking into the Nostalgia Classic Cars' warehouse is like stepping into a time warp. A gritty industrial space, dotted with shiny displays of aqua blue, magenta red, and army green pieces of metallic art. Mazin Alkhatib’s classic car gallery is a car enthusiast’s dream—a sweet shop for engine lovers.
The most intriguing element of Mazin’s story is his paradoxical background. An investment banker for over 25 years, he worked for the likes of Investcorp and Warburg Pincus, before pursuing his passion.
Sitting across from him, surrounded by the classics he had so lovingly collected, I found him approachable and at ease. “I’ve spun 180 degrees – a lot of people wonder about this. Usually, when people in the finance domain want to quit being an employee, they open a consultancy firm, or something like that. But I’ve always been a car enthusiast,” he says.
Having spent my entire life thinking of cars as a practical solution to get from point A to point B, I couldn’t quite understand how these mechanically manufactured pieces of metal could lead a person to embark on a whole new journey. Listening closer, the priceless stories of Mazin’s childhood opened a whole new sense of inspiration for me.
“Neither my mum or dad drove in their lives, and when I would see neighbours fixing up their cars, I would watch in awe,” says Mazin. “For them it was a means of transportation, and [to me], cars [were] way beyond a means of transportation… Even when I was 10 years old I used to appreciate old classic cars,” he adds.
He goes on to clarify that just like most other things, the very first thing that grabs him about a car is “the physical look”. Then, as he learns more about the engine, reads about the car’s performance, and is lucky enough to try driving it, his interest gradually increases.
Mazin sees the beauty in modern cars too, but, as he puts it, “when it comes to vintage cars, I see them like pieces of art. The people who used to design cars in the 30s, 40s and 50s were pure artists, not engineers. They didn’t care about aerodynamics, they cared about building something beautiful—something that would be recognizable on the roads.”
When I ask him what made him choose Alserkal Avenue, he reflected, “By being part of Alserkal Avenue, I strongly believe that we will invite the types of people I want in my showroom. People who have a certain sense of culture and appreciate such art—these are the people who will help us become the pioneers and the classic car hub for the region and the world, starting from Alserkal Avenue.”
Having a conversation with Mazin opened my eyes to a new level of appreciation for vintage cars, and why Nostalgia sits socomfortably in a place like Alserkal Avenue. The metal curves are not only a means of protection, but a curve that was influenced by a time when Elvis Presley was hot, and the 50s shoulder bob was in. The very connotation of a car is not defined by its sole functionality, and furthermore, what I have come to conclude is that vintage cars are far more than a novelty item. They hold stories for generations ahead to ever appreciate.
Driving back in my metallic green KIA Soul, the details of the interior design, the stitching on the seats, and the transforming colors glowing from the rims of my speakers became more apparent. I thought about what inspired the designer to choose “alien-green”. Maybe it was a fascination with the other-worldly, or a love for mother nature.