Ali Kemali in his 1973 Porsche Carrera RS
Ali Kemali in his 1973 Porsche Carrera RS
Image: DNA Photographers

Globetrotting photographers and journalists Desmond Louw and Antonia Heil are based between Cape Town and Berlin. Combining their love of cars, travel and people, they've been gathering content for a book, which they hope to publish next year. “We love photographing people and their wheels and listening to their stories,” says Antonia. Visit the ‘automotive’ section of their website and you’ll understand why we are so obsessed and why they’re in high demand. When Wanted chatted to them in late October (2016), they’d just wrapped up shooting for the Porsche Sport Driving School in Portugal and were heading to Finland on another Porsche commission.

“The people we are including in our book are among the many we have met on our travels in South Africa, the US, Portugal, Germany and Thailand.” While working on this project, they discovered that most of these characters are not only passionate about their modes of transport but are also entrepreneurs, creatives, people who love their jobs, and as Desmond says, “are altogether pretty happy people!” Titled wor{king}, we persuaded them to share these portraits with us as weekly posts. First among these is Capetonian Ali Kemali and his 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7.

 

Ali Kemali and his 1973 Porsche Carrera RS
Ali Kemali and his 1973 Porsche Carrera RS
Image: DNA Photographers

ALI KEMALI

1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7

Cape Town, South Africa

Ali’s life resembles that of a cartoon character. He drives a little green car and lives in Clifton, close to the beach in Cape Town. He lived in Iran until the revolution, then moved to Turkey, spent a bit of time in London, lived in the south of France for a while and ultimately studied in the US. Now Ali’s home is in Cape Town.

“It’s not difficult to fall in love with this end of the world,” says Ali. “In Cape Town it seems people have more time for one another. All my friends are like family here. I have lived in lots of places around the world and this is my favourite by far because of the people. We have a fun life here. A good life.” Ali has been in Cape Town for 13 years, and is still in awe of the place. “Table Mountain still gives me goose bumps.”

For this architect it used to be about working 16 hours a day. “I learnt, it’s not the hours you put into it but it’s what you put into the hours. At one point I lost sight of being a child and tried hard to grow up very quickly, which is absolutely unnecessary. Now I wake up in the morning, go cycling on my mountain bike, come home, take a quick shower and I step outside to play with my friends. We play architect, architect. We build buildings and have a lot of fun.”

Ali’s family is his foundation. “What I am is because of my family. I had excellent parents. I grew up thinking I was Superman’s son.” Ali’s father was a doctor in Iran and closely resembled the famous singer, Bryan Ferry. As his father did not want to disappoint people, Ali says "he provided his ‘fans’ with autographs when they asked.

“My dad always spoiled me to death and that’s why I bought him this car. This was his poster girl. This is the car he always wanted.” The car Ali is talking about is the Viper green 1973 Porsche Carrera. Ali now drives the car. “I named her Irma, after the wife of the engineer who looks after my car. He looks after her as good as he does his wife.”

Image: DNA Photographers

This specific Porsche has an interesting story. The 1973 Porsche Carrera is a model that saved the Porsche brand. “The story goes that Porsche was being elbowed out of racing,” says Ali. “The era of the 917, also known as the ‘widow maker’ was over. Porsche, which was at this point a family-owned business, had its roots in racing. To not be able to race would have been a great blow to a company, which produced sports cars. This was what their research and development was based on, this was what fueled their marketing. Racing was at the core of Porsche. They needed to race in the FIA group four and five categories, which was based on production cars. To be able to race, Porsche had to sell a minimum of 500 of these cars in a 12-month period. It was a mammoth task. The car was introduced in the 1972 at the Paris International Automobile Show, and was well received. The orders surpassed everyone’s wildest imagination!"

Over an eight-month period Porsche manufactured and sold 1508 of the 911 2.7 Carrera RS. Not only did this machine save Porsche, but it placed itself as the ‘Holy Grail’ of the marque.“

This Carrera is Ali’s everyday car. “My day starts and usually ends with a drive along Kloof Nek Road. It’s magnificent to be greeted by a shimmering Cape Town in the morning, and watch the sunset travel through the trees into the ocean on my way back home. The road itself is phenomenal. It’s a series of incredible curves, which really is great fun without having to drive at an excessive speed!"

Copywrite of DNA Photographers 

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