Thousands of supercars have been left to rot in the desert of Dubai, or at least that’s what we’re told. We found the truth.
Anytime one spots a supercar in traffic there’s a thought that might easily pop up into their mind. “There goes a quarter of a million dollars or more”. Even base-level supercars cost as much as many people’s homes. It’s also not unusual today for the upper echelon of hypercars to cost $2 or 3 million dollars each. That’s why the culture of Dubai can remain so shocking to the rest of the world despite all the press it’s received. Supercars and hypercars are as prevalent in Dubai streets as BMWs or Audis are here in the USA, perhaps even more so.
What’s most shocking is that the same prevalence is also true of the impound lots, junkyards, and scrap yards of Dubai. And that has given rise to some wild and interesting theories about these expensive abandoned cars in Dubai. Today we’re going to break down the mystique of the area, where the stories of abandoned cars in Dubai began, and whether or not you can get a sweet deal on a used one that’s wasting away right now.
It’s easy to see the flashy lifestyle of those in Dubai and think that the abandoned supercars featured in the media are simply a result of incredible excess. The country’s oil-backed wealth is no secret. Residents are always looking for the latest and greatest. Automobile manufacturers are so desperate for that attention that they’ll often build one-off bespoke supercars for those in Dubai. Buyers are constantly trying to one-up everyone else on the road and drive something totally unique like a movie used Batmobile or famous racecars. But does that insane wealth really result in a lack of care or respect for the supercars and hypercars that we see sitting on the side of the roads there?
No doubt, some of that is true. In fact, it’s that grain of truth that has likely led to the myths about these abandoned cars in Dubai. Stories are told all over the internet about how owners are so rich and have so much money that they will park a supercar and for all intents and purposes just forget that it exists. Then there are videos like the one of a well-known YouTuber touring the scrapyards of Dubai only to find exotic cars with cash left behind inside. There are indeed hundreds of thousands of supercars that get impounded or scrapped each and every year. Here’s how all of that started.
No, buyers aren’t so bored with supercars that they just let them sit and rot while the owner forgets about their existence. When the global financial crisis sprung up in 2008, many supercar owners ended up defaulting on the loans that were used to procure such vehicles. In Dubai, there is no provision in the law for defaulting on a loan and at the time, the penalty was a stiff jail sentence. Due to that rigidity, many who lived in Dubai at the time and had such crippling debt simply abandoned everything and fled the country to avoid jail. So yes, lots of cars were abandoned at the time and many still sit in junkyards or scrap yards today. But it wasn’t that the cars were worthless. Their owners left everything, not just the cars.
Today, things have changed drastically. While making late payments can still land you in jail, business is much more predictable, and far fewer individuals are defaulting on their loans. It’s still not totally uncommon though to see some cars that look abandoned. These typically fall into two categories, actually abandoned cars in Dubai or just dirty cars in Dubai. Yep, dirty is a common possibility here when you see a dusty-looking supercar on the side of the road. Dubai is, after all, a desert state that fills with dust and sand fairly often. As a result, many cars are caked in particulates after just a day or two of being out in the elements. Almost comically, owners can be ticketed for having a dirty car too.
The other side of the coin is that some vehicles are indeed abandoned. These days, fleeing the country to avoid jail time isn’t among the top reasons for supercar abandonment though. Most often, cars are left because of fines or other legal issues. Drivers can have their car impounded for up to three months as a result of traffic infractions like running a red light, driving too fast over the speed limit, or on the hard shoulder. Then there are the very few that are actually left on the side of the road or in parking lots by the previous owner. There is indeed enough money for some that they treat these cars as disposable items that aren’t, in their eyes, worth selling after they’re done with them.
The short answer is yes. Once a car is abandoned, the government notifies the owner that it must be moved via text message. If it’s still in place after 15 days, the government will impound the vehicle. At that point, the owner has another six months to retrieve it. If they don’t, then the government will auction it off to the highest bidder.
There are two ways to go about participating in these auctions. Individuals can use services to search for and purchase auctioned vehicles. Of course, there are known concerns about buying a vehicle in such an unknown state. Pests inside the engine or neglected maintenance to name a few. Then there’s the cost of getting the vehicle to you wherever you might be. For those that want some help with the process, many businesses specialize in just such a service. Expect to save a little less on the supercar of your dreams in those cases.
How do you find info on the auctions in Dubai?