Cars shipped from Hutch to United Arab Emirates

Reproduced from the Hutchinson News June 18th, 2003

By Kelly McGuire

It takes a lot of postage - about $3,500 worth - to mail a package containing three custom-built sandrails from Hutchinson, Kan., to the United Arab Emirates.

The Volkswagen-based off-road cars were recently built at The Buggy Shop, 1803 East 4th, for a customer in Abu Dhabi. The customer, a fellow sandrail and dune-buggy buff, came across The Buggy Shop's Web site and requested more information, said Tim Howard, who owns The Buggy Shop.

The result was a special delivery that left Hutchinson Tuesday afternoon and is expected to arrive at its destination July 26.

Howard said the customer, Obaid Almansouri, owns a motorcycle shop called the Desert Oasis for Motorbikes. He originally ordered two sandrails, but when he discovered he'd pay the same shipping on three as two, he decided to buy one for himself, Howard said.

"The smallest container is 40 feet long, so there was room to put a third car in," he said.

From Hutchinson, the cars went by truck to Kansas City, where they will sit for about two days before being picked up by a train headed for U.S. Customs in New York.

"They'll be dropped off at Customs, and Customs puts them on a boat June 26," Howard said. "From there, I believe Spain. They'll spend 25 days on the water, and then on another boat for five days to Saudi Arabia."

Well, almost Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates is near the border of Saudi Arabia, but UAE is on better terms with the United States than Saudi Arabia, Howard said.

Negotiations on the cars started about a week before the war in Iraq began, Howard said, but the two men kept their business views and political views separate.

"He just wanted our cars," Howard said.

In fact, Howard had turned down Almansouri twice before, not wanting to get involved in shipping overseas so early in The Buggy Shop's online career. But Almansouri persisted, and eventually won out.

Howard and his crew spent seven days on each car. They cost $7,500, $5,500, and Almansouri's personally built, custom-designed car was $10,500.

"Everything had to be chrome," Howard said. "Each time I talked to him, he said, 'I want chrome.' These things look like Corvettes."

Almansouri also wanted double shocks in the rear and a specially-built console. And, it had to be blue. Each time Howard and his staff finished a new part of the car, they'd send pictures to Almansouri for his approval. Through the process, the two became friends.

"We personally got to know each other somewhat," Howard said. "He's even invited me over there."

Howard said Almansouri has mentioned buying nine more cars, for a total of 12, but that an order hasn't been made on those yet. An order that big, especially during the winter months when business is typically slower, couldn't hurt, Howard said.

But he's not worried.

"When they roll out of that trailer," Howard said, "he's going to like them."

Reporter Kelly McGuire can be reached at or at (620) 694-5700, ext. 317.