By Saleh Elias.
An old Mosul mechanic is shocking locals by restoring scrapped, vintage cars and making lots of money. The aging mechanic even talks to the vehicles to make them prettier.
His hands are dry, rough and cracked from over 45 years spent working as a mechanic. But Mosul man, Whalid Hamdoun al-Uzbaki, isn’t taking to the hand cream yet. He has turned his hobby of car restoration into a business. After searching through Iraq’s scrap yards for old cars from the 1950s and 60s, Younis buys them for small amounts and restores them, selling them for tens of thousands of dollars to collectors.
Al-Uzbaki talked to NIQASH about why he’s been so successful with the vintage vehicles and how at one stage, that success could have turned him into a terrorist target in the troubled area.
NIQASH: How did this all begin?
Al-Uzbaki: I had always been attracted to old things because I always felt they became more valuable over time. I think that our society doesn’t value what’s really important. People care too much about material things, new things. That bothers me a lot.
For me, cars from the 1950s and 1960s are treasures, as valuable as any antique. I remember the first car I restored very well. I repaired it but at the time nobody wanted to buy it or was interested. So I sold it very cheaply and gave up repairing cars. Then in 2006, when it was very dangerous here in Mosul, I started looking for cars again. I managed to create whole new cars out of the scrap I found.