What does one of Australia’s most respected automotive journalists – one that has grabbed the industry media by the scruff of the neck and shaken it harder than anyone else – have parked in his garage? A Suzuki Jimny. But not one. Two. That’s right. Two.
You may have heard of Alborz Fallah. Describing him as a journalist is short-changing him. He was the man behind CarAdvice – one of the automotive industry’s top websites. Fallah and his business partners did so well with the website that channel nine paid them a squillion to hand over the keys and it is now in the process of burying the well-known name for good and rebranding it using the company’s original auto masthead. Strange move given the significant outlay, but that’s business.
That’s OK though because Fallah, while disappointed that the baby he reared is no longer, has moved on to bigger and better things.
Fallah has lived an incredible life. Of Iranian descent, his parents lived in Michigan, USA, in the mid-1970s, his dad finished a PhD there and his mum a Masters degree, before they returned to their country of birth – during the Iranian Revolution – hoping to help rebuild it.
Born in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and living in a town right on the Iraqi border, Alborz has vivid memories of “missiles and bombs falling around us, buildings in ruin and acid rain”. With US/Iran relationships in tatters, the family was unable to escape Iran for the US, so settled in Australia. Brisbane to be exact.
Many describe Fallah as an entrepreneur, and they’d be right. He has never been afraid to give something ago. At 12 he created one of the country’s most successful blogging/publishing platforms, one that attracted 60,000 users each month. But he closed that at 14 because his parents were bankrolling him to the tune of $200/month and he thought that was unfair. He ran a computer store, internet cafes, SEO and marketing companies, built computer games as a kid and sold merch for bands. As he said, some were successful, some were not, but in these initial years he learned a lot about how to succeed in business by failing often. And he has no regrets.
A bit of a tech geek (yep he’s the one queueing outside the Apple store 48 hours before the next iPhone is released) he lives and breathes cars. His earliest memory was sitting on his dad’s lap, steering the family Peugeot 504 around the war-torn streets of home. But his favourite memory involves a Lamborghini Diablo – and it’s what set him on the road to where he is now.
“I was at Coles with my mum and a guy rocks up in a black Diablo and it blew me away,” Fallah said.
“I was nine or ten, the guy saw my expression and asked if I wanted to sit in it. It was my first “wow” moment, and when I realised I wanted these things in my life.”
And from there all roads lead to a career in motoring and supercar ownership. While he unashamedly admits he spends the majority of his time driving press cars – a critical part of a motoring journo’s job – he has built an enviable garage, in more ways than one.
Having recently completed his dream house, Fallah has two garages that can comfortably park up to 14 cars. There is the, what you could only refer to as, daily commute garage. It includes one of the Jimnys and a couple of family cars, a Jaguar and an Audi. Then there is the … showroom (pictured).
Fallah’s supercar showroom is truly remarkable. Showroom specification Italian tiles and LED strip lighting presentation turn this garage into something you would expect at a premium brand new car launch. And in it sits a collection of vehicles so impressive you almost have to see it to believe it.
There’s an Aston Martin Vantage N400, a Mercedes-Benz SLS Gullwing, a Ferrari 458 Speciale, the Lotus Elise, the slick Lamborghini Huracan Performante and the recently acquired Mitsubishi 3000GT with a new GR Yaris Rallye on its way.
While he loves them all, his favourite – if he had to choose one – is his first purchase, the Aston Martin.
“The N400 is a super rare version of the Vantage, it’s the Nürburgring edition,” Fallah said.
“I remember driving an Aston Martin press car over the Storey Bridge in Brisbane, I fell in love with the idea of owning one, so as soon as I had a little bit of money I bought one.
“Although I couldn’t really afford it, I made it happen and it was a life changing moment for me. It opened the doors to so many new people that I wouldn’t have otherwise met and changed my life trajectory in regard to how I think and what I wanted to do.”
The Gullwing was purchased as a wedding anniversary gift to his wife, stemming from their wedding where they used one as a key part of the day, and in wedding photography.
“If we are going somewhere special I’ll take the Merc,” Fallah said. “It’s a classic car, one of the most beautiful out there. The doors go up, everyone looks at you. It’s a little less flashy compared to a supercar but it turns heads because it’s rare.”
He admits the Lamborghini gives him goosebumps every time he drives it, but the Ferrari 458 is, by far, the best car he’s owned.
“The Ferrari scares the crap out of me every time I drive it. It’s loose, slidey and agile. It’s like being in a go-kart with 600hp. I get out after a rapid mountain run with my hands slightly shaking. If I want something stable, slick and fast I’ll take the Lambo.
“But I don’t really get to drive them much. The odd late-night run or on weekends. I’m actually quite conscious that they will lose their specialness if they become my daily drive.”
Returning to the Suzukis. Fallah bought one so he could go off-roading with his mates. But he quickly pimped it out to look like a Mercedes G Wagon (hence the J Wagon plates), which led to a second Jimny in the family.
Now, a couple of years after selling CarAdvice, all his time is going into building CarExpert – which went live about a year ago.
Privately owned, CarExpert has a no advertising support approach making it truly independent and removing any notion of bias (not that there ever would be). If that doesn’t set it apart from the competition, this will. Having already opened its first store, over the next few years it will open a series of additional stores at Westfield shopping centers to better help people chose their next car.
“Rather than going from dealer to dealer, you can take a look at some of the top 20 best-selling cars in Australia, check them out side by side and even test drive them,” Fallah said.
“You don’t need to waste a whole weekend doing this, they’re all here. We don’t sell cars, we simply provide an experience and expert advice and if the customer wants to buy a car, we grab their details and refer them to the local dealership. It’s a brand agnostic experience.”
With plenty of hard work ahead of him, Fallah will continue to reward himself. The next supercar bound for the garage is the Lexus LFA, he’s always wanted one. But the car that gets him out of bed each morning is the Pagani Zonda. He has a technical drawing of the auto masterpiece on his garage wall to help him keep his eyes on the prize and maintain business motivation.
“I really want the Zonda, but they are between $8-12 million, crazy money,” Fallah said.
“I had the chance to experience Adam Kaplan’s yellow one in 2009 and wow! I will have to own one,I don’t think its an option. Likely keep it in the garage. I don’t want to even drive it. It’s a piece of artwork. Once I have this I know nothing can top it… maybe.”
For all your motoring needs check out www.carexpert.com.au