Thursday, 26 April 2012

Samir Ashraf Porsche 928S

Sami was our good friend and first customer and he drove his Porsche 924 turbo for two years. One day he wanted to trade it in for a new Porsche 928S and we ordered him his new car, which was silver metallic with black leather interior. This also was one of a few Porsche 928S that we ordered with a manual transmission.
            Sami drove his new car for many months and loved the car. However one evening I had a call from a friend in the police, to say Sami had been killed in an accident whilst driving his Porsche 928S. This was a devastating blow for Bob & I personally and also from a business perspective.
            The first thing we did was to inspect the Porsche 928S at the traffic department and you could literally stand where the gear lever should have been! The car was destroyed on the passenger’s side but fairly sound in the driver’s compartment, other than the roof being slightly crushed.
            We were caught in a very difficult position as really good friends with the whole Ashraf family and losing Sami was a severe blow to everyone. Before Bob and I went up to see Inge, Anwar, Romana and Reshma, I needed to know what had caused Sami’s death. I called in some big favours in the Ministry of the Interior and everyone told me that Sami had been drinking heavily prior to the accident.
We went out to the accident scene, which ironically was on the Sitra Road just along from the Ashraf Kodak studio business and it was immediately apparent that the Porsche did not have much of a chance of saving its driver upon impact, as the car had hit a large lamp post. This lamp post was not in fact the real cause of the impact, but due to the soft sandy soil in Bahrain, all lamp posts were supported by a huge concrete base buried in the ground. These were approximately 1 metre square and several metres deep of solid concrete. However on this particular lamppost the concrete was well above the surface and the passenger’s side of the Porsche had hit the concrete base sideways on. There was no car in the world that could have withstood that kind of impact, so at least I knew it was not a failing of Porsche, although that was of little comfort on a personal level. I also found out that Sami was thrown from the car upon impact and survived for a while and died later in hospital. He obviously was not wearing a seat belt and we checked the car and this confirmed matters for us.
At that time it was our strict company policy to always wear seatbelts no matter what and something we always impressed upon all of our customers. We had seen all the safety testing at Porsche Weissach and I am sure Sami would have survived if he had been wearing his seat belt that evening. However life is not like that, he was not wearing his and we will never know.
When Bob and I finally went up to see the Ashraf family, Ann, Sami’s girlfriend shouted at me for a few minutes, blaming me for selling him his Porsche car. She also recalled telling me about James Dean dying in a Porsche the day Sami took delivery of his Porsche 924 turbo, which was also in my mind. However, grief makes people say things and I did not take it too personally as everyone was very upset at events. Romana was very kind to us and apologised for Ann’s behaviour but it was a very stressful time for us all. Fortunately Sami death was the only one we had to deal with during my Porsche days and now the wearing of seats belts is mandatory in Bahrain.
Accident cars in Bahrain in those days were usually left in private scrap yards, so we took a conscience decision to get the wreck from the police ourselves. We cut the chassis up and dug a big unmarked hole in the desert with an excavator and buried the Porsche 928S forever.

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