Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa AL Khalifa

One of the cars in question that became embroiled in this problem at the Porsche factory was a Pearl White Porsche 928S2, which had been ordered by H. E. Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa AL Khalifa, the Prime Minister’s son, who was also Assistant Under-Secretary for Immigration & Passports. Sheikh Ali was not someone you messed around and he had previously purchased a new Porsche 928S manual gear car from us.
I had known Sheikh Ali for some years in passing and Sheikh Rashid and I had invited him as guest of honour to our Porsche Sheraton Show. After this event he called into our workshop one afternoon and asked me if I had any cars available and I said only two; a manual Porsche 928S and a special order flat nose Porsche 930 turbo. Both of these cars had been ordered by customers and subsequently cancelled because they had changed their minds or purchased a different model Porsche from us.
Sheikh Ali sat in and liked the Porsche 928S and said, “I’ll take it.” I asked him if he wanted to test drive it and he said no, just prepare it and he would collect it later. I told him to give me a couple of hours and his car would be ready.
It was the weekend so the staff had left so I de-waxed the car and did the pre-delivery inspection myself. I was just finishing cleaning it and he showed up and came into the workshop exclaiming, “Alan why are you cleaning my car?” I informed him, he was a very important customer and that I was quite prepared to look after him personally, as everyone had gone home, which went down well. I washed myself up changed out of my overalls and wellington boots and we concluded the paperwork. He drove off up the road really quickly in his new Porsche 928S, with him security team following in their Mercedes.
I was just getting ready to lock up and he came back and tooted his horn and I went out to see him. He said, “This Porsche is a fantastic car. Come in to see me at my office on Saturday around 10am.” He drove off beaming all over his face with the poor security car barely keeping pace!
The working week in Bahrain in those days was Saturday through Wednesday and private businesses usually open Thursday morning until 1pm. I was very excited about Sheikh Ali buying a car from us and I was promptly in his office next Saturday as arranged. However when I arrived, I was shown into a waiting room and there was around 35 people waiting to see him, some of whom I knew and chatted to. Jamil Ali Ebrahim told me he hated all this waiting around and I knew Jamil very well and I said, “I’m not waiting”, so I got up and walked out.
I had just got back to my office when Irene said that Sheikh Ali had been ringing for me constantly. I called Sheikh Ali and he told me he wanted back at his office as a matter of urgency. I got in my car and drove back to see him. As soon as I went inside, Sheikh Ali’s personal security guard who recognised me from the Porsche garage, stopped me and said, “Go into this other office and speak to Isa, the secretary.”
I knocked and went in and met Isa who said he was Sheikh Ali’s personal secretary. I explained who I was and he said to sit down with three other people most of whom I had seen on the television news, so I knew these were all V.I.P’s. Isa buzzed Sheikh Ali and I was next in to see him, which raised a few eyebrows from those persons seated!
Sheikh Ali welcomed me and asked, “Alan why did you go off without seeing me?” and I said I thought we had an appointment and that if he was too busy I could come back at another time. He told me he was always busy, but to sit and his man came in and served us both Arabic coffee.
I had bought a set of brochures and interior trim samples and he said he wanted to order a new Porsche 928S2 with full options, automatic gearbox, Pearl White metallic paint and can can red leather and carpets interior. These were basically the national colours of the State of Bahrain.
I said that would be fine and that it may take a few months to get a production slot for the Pearl White paint as Porsche only painted twelve cars per annum. This impressed him even more and he said he would wait (this was totally correct that Porsche only painted twelve cars in Pearl White per year and were I believe the first car company to use this unique colour. Following his order we ended up booking more that 70% of Porsche’s annual production for Pearl White paint). He gave me a BD 14,500/- cheque, post-dated for the date when I said we could deliver his car, which covered the full price net of taxes. Normally I would not have taken a post-dated cheque off anyone, but someone at his level would in no way bounce a cheque on us! I thanked him for his order and he said to pop in anytime, gave me his direct dial telephone number at the office and I left him to get on with his day.
I subsequently placed the order with Porsche AG and the following day. After Porsche AG confirmed a production date and I called Sheikh Ali to tell him that there would be another one month’s delay in delivery due to the Pearl White paint slot. He was fine with this and I rang off. 

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