Vol. 5 Num 694 Sat. May 13, 2006  

Local whiz comes up with 2 wonder cars

Leepu has finally got some recognition for his distinctive car-making venture but it was not from the government; it came from a foreign TV channel.

Leepu has been building cars for a while now and people pretty much know what he is all about. But building two cars in eight weeks has put him in uncharted territories. It all started when Discovery Channel proposed Leepu to build two cars for them and said they will film the making of the car, which would be on air in August this year.

It is no doubt an achievement to build two cars of different design in eight weeks' time when you have only your brain and few garage tools to play with. Well Nizamuddin Awlia Leepu has done that with a week to spare!

The first car, the M 26, which was built for Discovery Channel, unveiled at the Motor Show in Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre last month, must be said to be an evolution of his last creation, the F 21.

The M 26, named after March 26, the Independence Day, shows improvements in the interior section, engine and overall design. Of course it had the feeling that it was rock solid and things would not fall off if you pushed the car to the limit. Part of this was archived with the help of Bernie Fineman, an engine expert flown to Dhaka by Discovery Channel, who bought the used engine from Dholai Khal and tweaked the engine to produce 128 Bhp. That is about 40 Bhp more than the Corolla you may have parked in your garage.

The most noticeable thing in this car is the interior. Leepu used dials from a motorbike in the two seater's dashboard and it produced a very sporty look from the inside. It has an audio system to pound people's brains out and of course blue neon lights both inside the car and underneath. The difference in the front end of the car with F 21 is the airflow in, out and over the car. F 21 produced downforce sucking the air in from the front and letting it go through the side air ducts but the M 26 sucks air through the radiator and lets it go over the windshield creating more downforce in the middle of the car.

The 1.8 litre engine was tucked neatly inside the bonnet and you can hardly see any parts of it from the outside even though Leepu had lowered and widened the vehicle substantially. But the highlight of the car has to be the headlights. Borrowing only the bulbs from a Toyota Windom, Leepu designed the lights in such a way -- it appears as if a lady is staring at you with her long eyelashes.

Must be said the shape of the tyre and the rim match perfectly with the mudguard this time, a thing Leepu was not able to do in a few of the previous cars he made. And the car looks a bit cramped in the inside probably due to the fact Leepu widened the car but did not widen the cabin. May be people do not expect sports cars to be roomy.

The Peace Car, second car built for the Discovery Channel and unveiled at the National Museum on May 7, is a unique one. It is believed this is a one of a kind car. When asked Leepu said he built this for an imaginary leader --a leader who would speak for peace and denounce violence. He said he did not even install front bumpers for the car since the Peace Car will not rear end another vehicle ever.

Leepu chopped off the entire front seat and the passenger seat of the vehicle and moved the dashboard to the back. The entire steering column is at the back with only a passenger seat next to it. The 1979 Toyota Crown is hard trace after the heavy modification. Leepu claims this is a car that has the features of the past, present, and the future all together in it.

The extremely long two-seater has motorbike headlamps at the front and the original dashboard inside. But when you name a car 'Peace Car' one might expect better quality taillights and the spare wheel more firmly bolted to the trunk. The 2.6 litre engine howls as the silencer box has been removed and the exhaust pipes stick by the side in the middle of the car.

It is a great car no question but one has to ask what is the purpose of such a vehicle. When asked, Leepu said the car was built for an "imaginary" leader. He said the car does not have any bullet-proof glasses even because he thinks a leader of this sort will always be praised and never harmed. He said the leader would have almost a 360-degree view of the surrounding while he is travelling on the vehicle.

The powerful roaring engine coupled with the unprecedented great looks makes it a really good sports car which, if produced massively, would make Corvette, Porsche and Ferrari run for their money. But when one thinks about the third seat outside the car one has to realise it is not a practical car at all. Not even the Pope would ride on that without proper safety and security.

One has to come to the conclusion that it is a car built for Utopia. Our leaders are in constant fear of Kalasnikovs pointing at them. And a car that disregards this fear is pointless.

Nevertheless one has to give credit to Leepu for achieving something that hardly anyone in the world could do -- building two cars in seven weeks. Bernie Fineman, the expert, said: "If anyone had told me in London that they would build two cars in seven weeks I would have said they should be locked up or sent to a shrink for therapy."

When asked how he felt after building the two cars, Leepu said: "I could not have done this without the help Bernie and without the dedication of Discovery Channel Producer Bruce Fletcher, Assistant Producer Nicolas Haque, Film Director Sam Maymard, Sound Engineer Martin Questu and Production Managers Clemency Wilson and Samantha Payne.

Leepu is leaving Dhaka for London this week as he will build a car in front of a public exhibition starting on June 1 in East London. Leepu said he is taking three of his mechanics from his garage to assist him during the show.

(Middle Column) Leepu and Bernie takes a rare break, top, in front of the Peace Car. They pose for the cameras before the M 26. (Bottom Row) The M 26, named after March 26, the Independence Day, shows improvements in the interior section, engine and overall design