Day in the life: Dubai car customiser the high-octane kind of guy

Krysia McKechnie

Tarhan Telli is the owner of TT Motor, a business specialising in the production and customisation of motorcycles, cars and yachts. Mr Telli, 39, from Turkey, has worked on some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters including The Expendables and Mad Max 3. He began upgrading his toy car engines to make them even faster at the age of six and built his first motorcycle from scratch at the age of 16. From there the idea for the TT brand, which opened its Dubai branch in January this year, was born.


The earliest I wake up is 10am but it can be anywhere between 10am and 11am. I work very late into the evening so my day starts later. I’ll eat breakfast prepared by my wife; it might be some eggs and bread with some orange juice, nothing too heavy. My son is four months old and will have been up for a while, but I don’t hear him until I wake up. I spend some time with him before I go to work as I won’t be back from work until late. I always dress the same – like Mark Zuckerberg and his uniform. I don’t want to waste time thinking about my clothes, I wear black jeans, a black T-shirt and leather boots or shoes. That’s it.


I travel to the office and have a coffee as soon as I arrive. My day is planned by my team and I start the first of several meetings with customers. I like to have the first initial meeting with a client in the showroom. After that we might meet elsewhere, but I think it’s important they see what we have. It’s important we develop a relationship; the design and build process can take anywhere from two months to two years, depending on complexity so we need to be comfortable working together. If we have a client who wants us to customise a lot of vehicles we might travel to them for logistical reasons.


Lunch is a chance for the whole team to get together and eat. We have a Turkish company that delivers food every day and we all stop and sit down together. TT Motor is more than a business, it’s a family. I cannot carry out my business without them, we rely and look after each other. Every member of the team is important to me; we eat together, work together and have fun together. We often take trips to get out of the office and relax. Occasionally a VIP client will invite us for lunch, if we are starting a big project, which is a good chance for the client to meet the whole team.


More meetings with customers. I also check up on the progress of various builds at our main factory in Turkey and our workshops in Germany and the US. We’re currently building the biggest motorcycle customisation factory in the Gulf here in Dubai Investment Park, so I check up on the progress and fit-out, making sure the project is on track. My days here are very different to the days I spend filming for a Hollywood blockbuster. That came about when I was in the US – I was customising motorbikes for people in the Hollywood community when I got a call asking if I wanted to work on the bikes and cars for The Expendables 3. I’ve had calls to work on vehicles for other movies ever since. Working on Mad Max 3 was amazing, we were able to give our creative skills free reign.


The showroom is closed and the real work begins. This is when the design ideas are discussed as a team and we conceptualise how to bring a client’s dreams to life. We’ve recently completed an 800-horsepower complex off-road customisation project for a client in Sharjah; we’re also working on several motorbikes and some custom race dune buggies. People want to differentiate themselves from others and show their personality with their vehicles.


The team go home but I carry on for another hour or so.


I arrive home in the Dubai Marina and have dinner with my wife. My wife is Austrian, but her family is Turkish and she prepares some Turkish food for us. We’ll then spend half an hour discussing our respective days. My son will be asleep by now so I’ll see him in the morning.


I go upstairs and spend a couple of hours in my home study working on my business plans and designs. This time is mine alone and I don’t work on designs; I work on how to grow the business.


Finally I head to bed, but my mind never fully switches off. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night with ideas fully formed and I have to get up and start drawing them so I don’t lose the images. Some of my designs are so out of this world that they might never be built.

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