Cruising Jamaica style
Brian Bonitto, Special Assignment Editor
PATRICK MARZOUCA knows his way around cars. As a child, he heard stories about his father, Abe, and uncle Simon Shagoury building a vehicle resembling a torpedo. At 12, Patrick tried his hand at making a go-kart.
Today, the 60-year-old is poised for his biggest project; building cars - for export.
"We struck a deal with a car rental company in Turks and Caicos. We will be supplying them with three cars in the next two to three weeks," said Marzouca. "And, if all goes well as it should, then 30 over a two-year period," he continued.
Marzouca, and his company, Savanna-la-Mar-based Excel Motors Limited, have been manufacturing cars locally since 2000. And, they boast four lines of vehicles: Island Cruiser, Island Pick-up, Wasp and the sleek sports car, Gabrielle.
However, only the Cruisers will be making the inital Turks and Caicos trek.
According to the automaker, the Island Cruiser sports a 1500cc five-speed automatic engine and can reach up to a speed of 170 km per hour. And, currently, it takes an average of two weeks to assemble.
"It has a 70-inch wheel track and equipped with structural roll bars which are part of the chassis. It's like you are sitting in a protective box which makes it very safe," he said.
The University of Florida-certified auto engineer said financing for his project proves the most difficult challenge to date. However, he said there were several highlights.
"JAMPRO and the German government were very instrumental. The Germans taught me a lot," Marzouca said. He sung the praises of Hans Feischer - former head engineer with Ford of Europe - whom he said came to Jamaica and assisted him with his expertise.
The businessman said resins and other material used in the construction of the vehicle's fibreglass body is sourced in Colombia. However, the labour force is entirely Jamaican.
"The cruiser could be yours for US$15,000. A tad extra with air-conditioning," he said. The Gabrielle was more costly and could run up to US$30,000.
And, the colours?
"The vehicles come in all colour except black. Black is wickedly hot with fibreglass," he said.