Ferrari Made In Bangladesh
do to cars what the fairy Godmother did to Cinderella before
she went to the ball," says Leepu from the depths of
his garage in Dhaka, one of the world's most congested cities.
It looks like a Lamborghini - but it won't drive like one
"Only, none of my vehicles will turn ugly again by
whose real name is Nizamuddin Awlia, converts rusting Toyotas
and Hondas into imitation Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
market is the burgeoning Bangladeshi middle class - recently
enriched, but still not rich enough to afford the cars of
his specially converted garage, Leepu works with four mechanics,
stripping down Japanese cars and replacing their bodywork
with metal cut in the form of a sleek Italian sports car.
sheet metal they use comes from the same stock used to make
the bicycle rickshaws on Dhaka's streets.
Leepu insists that the two cars he is converting to resemble
a Lamborghini and a Ferrari - which will each be worth about
$40,000 on completion - are not direct copies of the production
line in the back street workshop
"Although this car may have a little more than a passing
resemblance to a Lamborghini Diablo, in fact there are a
lot of differences," he told BBC News Online, pointing
to a highly polished, streamlined vehicle.
body panels are designed by me, and have their own unique
features. The only genuine Ferrari parts I have are a pair
of rear lights and a few emblems and monograms," he
be honest I have to say that my inspiration comes from the
great Italian sports cars.
the bodywork may be similar, the engine is Japanese and
the seats are made out of 100% Bangladeshi leather.
would say that this is my homage to the Lamborghini design,"
he says, "which will never be surpassed anywhere in
passion for cars began when he was a youngster growing up
in the Middle East.
35-year-old says that he can remember going to a motor show
in Saudi Arabia and seeing the most exotic and eye-catching
vehicles. By 1989 he had already made a version of his dream
car, the Lamborghini Countach.
"It has always been my dream to own a car like a Ferrari,
even though I was unlikely to ever earn enough money to
buy one," he says. "So I decided to make my own
sports cars instead, and you can take it from me that it's
a lot cheaper!"
says that while he wants to keep a few of the cars that
he converts, he hopes that he will earn a living selling
the remainder to Bangladeshis who always dreamed of owning
a sports car.
after setting up business in Dhaka a few years ago, I made
a loose copy of another of my dream cars, a Lamborghini
Diablo. My version is called a Leepu."
stretch of the imagination: Dhaka-dwellers marvel at the
limo. Pride of the fleet though is Leepu's 22-feet-long
limousine - made by welding together several cars, and powered
by a 2.8 litre diesel engine. It took him 40 days to make,
and contains a drinks cabinet, on-board TV, intercom and
stereo. He estimates that it would be worth more than $50,000
if it was sold. "Most people in Dhaka have never seen
such a huge car," he says, and it is quite amusing
to see the mouths of rickshaw pullers drop as we drive by.
"The only trouble is that the ground-clearance for
some of my sports cars is not too good so we have to be
careful to avoid the potholes."
writer is the BBC Correspondent in Dhaka.