Dr Daddy does to cars what his guitar heroes, Slash and Satch, do to rock and roll. He bends a note or two and lets it rip. Dr Qasim Latif is quite unlike any other 52-year-old MD you’ll run into, or if you’re not careful, be run over by.
A certified doctor and management consultant by profession, Latif or Dr Daddy – as he is known among car enthusiasts – says remodeling and revamping cars started as a hobby when he was a student at Bolan Medical College in Quetta. His first project was remodeling a Thunderbird 1993. “It was partly because of passion and partly because of boredom that I started working on the bike,” he says.
Latif worked on three projects there, all of which were bought by admiring onlookers. “I was not doing it with the intention of selling them, but people were impressed by what they saw and offered money,” he says. He narrates one such incident when the son of the British High Commissioner saw his Thunderbird in Quetta. “He came up to me and said this bike is now mine. I will give you whatever you ask for,” recalls Latif. This was the moment Latif realised other people also recognised his passion.
He turned towards cars years later, in 2001. “From the clinical side of medicine I had started teaching, and so had more time,” shares Latif. This was also when he decided to carry on as a marketing professional and enrolled at the Punjab University for a master’s degree.
The first car he worked on was a Mitsubishi Lancer, 1996 model. “My father gave me the car and, at the time, it was the only thing I owned,” he says. The modifications to this car were unique in every way. “Every design is original, it is not copied from anywhere,” assures Latif about his originality.
As someone who has not studied mathematics or physics, Latif says he is able to design cars because he has read up extensively on them. “The knowledge comes from reading books and magazines, while I have also learnt a lot just by sitting and discussing things with the human resource. When their experience and my knowledge combine, we are able to create perfection,” he says with pride.
Over the past few years, Latif has developed an entire team to help him. “From carpenters to mechanics to welders, I have amassed an entire group of people who work on these projects with me,” he says. The task, though, was not easy. “As a management professional, I knew there always needs to be a budget for research and development so if there are mistakes we can learn from them.”
For Latif, the appreciation he receives while driving his designs on the road is a lot more rewarding than putting the cars on display in a show room. “I have worked on 18 models so far and each of them has been bought by those who simply fell in love with the cars,” says Latif. “At one point I ran out of parking space so I gave some away.”
Sitting in a garage, where every inch of the walls is covered in pictures of various cars and bikes he has revamped, Latif recounts different memories of each. He talks enthusiastically about his three latest projects. “I have registered these in my name and don’t want to give them away,” he adds.
Amongst these is a small almond shaped two-seater called Lali. With no roof, Latif says Lali is great for a fun drive and has been made exclusively in Pakistan. “Each nut and bolt used in this car has come from Pakistan,” says Latif, beaming at the sight of the vehicle. “My children particularly enjoy driving around in it,” he laughs. Another car he has worked on is a 1992 BMW. “We have given it a fat metal body and V8 swap,” he says. Latif adds cars from the ’90s are what he has always been working on. “I was in my prime in the ’90s. We were the Guns N’ Roses and Joe Satriani generation,” he says of his taste for high-octane rock and roll with blistering guitar solos. Latif is a true adventurer at heart and an adrenaline junkie of sorts. He is a certified paraglider and has also made an attempt to scale the Nanga Parbat. For him, a fast car isn’t just a fast car; it’s a way of life. A life he seems to be cruising through in style.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2016.
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