Omar Alfardan, president and CEO of Alfardan Group, one of the most successful privately owned companies in Qatar, has a passion for cars. Unless you happen to be a friend of his it's unlikely you'll ever set foot inside his eye-popping personal automotive museum. But a cool new book offers a rare glimpse at Alfardan's eclectic assemblage—and what it's like to actually drive these rolling works of art.
In My Friday Drives: Discovering the Letbelah Car Museum, new from Rizzoli and available to order on Amazon, author and Top Gear America host Jethro Bovingdon goes inside the renowned museum, granted all access by the owner himself.
Alfardan’s collection consists of over 120 cars and 35 motorcycles. "It spans over 100 years and weaves an incredible story," Bovingdon writes. "There are solid-gold classics, highly-prized hypercars, absolute surprises and even the occasional entry that seems inexplicable.... Inside Letbelah there’s room for the sublime, the beautiful, the precious, and the wild."
Alfardan's collections spans cars built between 1911 and 2018, and includes many modern classics such as the Aston Martin Lagonda, BMW M1, and Jaguar XJ220. And far from being mere museum pieces, they're meant to be driven. "For an enthusiast, it’s the stuff of which dreams are made," Bovingdon says.
Especially as he was handed the keys to whatever he cared to drive while writing the book. The custom photography accompanying the text shows many of them on the road rather than in a pristine museum setting, adding more verisimilitude.
There are also interviews with Alfardan and Ibrahim Jaidah, who designed the impressive building which houses the collection. "This is the story of a diverse, meticulously curated, sometimes mysterious and always fascinating car collection," Bovingdon writes, noting that "setting foot into Letbelah for the first time was jaw-dropping and overwhelming."
He adds that "the Letbelah story confounds expectations... this is a collection that lives and breathes and [goes] beyond a simple list of cars and the values associated with them." From an Indian Maharajah’s 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost to one of just 210 LaFerrari Apertas, Bovingdon was "left with a sense of real joy that these extraordinary cars are still used and enjoyed."
"If this book can even begin to describe why this collection is so special and unique, I’ll be very happy indeed," he declares. And so will you when you get a copy.