The Tribune

Vintage Vehicles Make A Comeback

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The charm of a vintage vehicle is unmissable and much is being done to preserve and protect these vehicles reviving heritage in brand new ways.

Vintage vehicles have a charm like no other and a sense of nostalgia attached to them make them a prized possession. And today with a revival of all things historic, the proverb, ‘old is gold’ is certainly true.

Blast from the Past

A plethora of events from auctions, shows to rallies all featuring vintage vehicles (especially cars) is fueling the interest in these vehicles and new collectors and auto enthusiasts are entering the fray to own these old beauties. Brig J.S. Phoolka (retd), Founder President, Vintage and Classic Car Club, Chandigarh says, “in the late 90’s we decided to start the club with a handful of members and cars that has grown tremendously and we are now a full-fledged registered sports club. We have enrolled 18-20 members who have collected 25 plus vintage cars that have been overhauled and salvaged to be reassembled that adds to the charm of these vehicles.” The Club organizes 4-5 events each year starting from Sep 27 which is International Tourism Day in collaboration with the Chandigarh administration and concludes with the Baisakhi Drive that happens around the Sunday post or prior to Baisakhi. “Awareness of the historic value of these vehicles is quite new as a decade ago most of these vehicles were being sold as scrap. However today things are changing as there is also a lot of media attention that has ensured that vintage vehicles are a trend today,” avers Baljit S Manco, Founder Secretary, Vintage and Classic Car Club, Chandigarh. Erach Kotwal a Mumbai based collector (who owns a owns a 1969 Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible ) is part of the Classic Drive Group meets every Sunday when all the old cars are taken on a drive on the Chembur Express Way. Speaking on the standard of the vehicles he says, “we sent three of our cars to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the USA and the Rolls Royce came first while the Bentley came third.”

Conservation Cues

Incidentally the royal families of India have a large number of vintage vehicles as well. “For us The Vintage & Classic Car Collection is yet another facet of the ‘living heritage of Mewar’. These are not just automobiles on wheels; these are an integral part of our history. All the vehicles on show have belonged to the Maharanas of Mewar both past and present and even though some vehicles are over seventy years old, each one has been painstakingly restored to ensure they are in working order,” says Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, Chairman and Managing Director, HRH Group of Hotels. Again these vehicles need to be conserved and much effort goes into the same. “The Federation of Historic Vehicles of India (FHVI) locates the vehicles and then tries and preserves it if it is in a good and decent condition. But if the vehicle is in a dilapidated condition then, we strip and rebuild the entire vehicle as per the original specifications to keep the originality,” says Dr. Ravi Prakash, President, FHVI. Aditya Vij, an independent collector who owns 16 vintage classic cars and 11 vintage two wheelers adds, “the vintage in the heritage vehicles are delicate products. Despite their phenomenal built, their ability to last for decades has passed. They need to be nurtured and taken care of piece by piece part by part, keeping in mind their originality and ensuring that they perform.” Restoring historic vehicles is not a piece of cake and is fraught with challenges. However with the Internet and clubs being present across the globe things are slowly becoming easier and parts are available and collectors are more than willing to help. “The most important aspect for any car collector is to have the best network of such owner or car garage who are in to this vehicle. There is an online platform which makes easier nowadays to outsource any vintage car parts. Also, there are many people who actually get into the manufacturing of one or other part without losing its vintage touch,” says Mahesh Shetkar, Business Development Head and Strategy Planner, Doers.

Future Perfect

With an increase in avenues to buy vintage vehicles, there is a heightened interest in the same. Yashwardhan Ruia, Mumbai based collector with over 50 plus cars opines, “There is a lot of awareness and a lot of young blood coming into this field with several shows and rallies happening across the country. There are dealers and vintage car auctions (there were two recently in Delhi and Mumbai) as well as clubs like the Vintage & Classic Car Club of India that can help a person buy a car based on their budget and requirements as many people have memories associated with these cars.” Osian’s – Connoisseurs of Art held its inaugural Live Auction & Catalogue for Vintage & Classic Automobiles in Delhi this February giving a fillip to the Automotive Heritage Movement in India. The event had 38 top quality Vintage and Classic Cars from the great marques of Cadillac, Rolls-Royce, Daimler, Bentley, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, DeSoto and Volvo. “In the last ten years, the European Historic Vehicles market have sold this collectible to be the fastest growing investment opportunity, and with all the society related collective joys of car ownership, participation in rally’s and various Concourse events, this has become a major aspirational and historic heritage nurturing collectible.  The Historical Vehicle is also a major family owned object with a multi-dimensional involvement across genders and ages. Its future in India is bright once a deeper respect for its history and the financial transparency of its market is assured,” avers Neville Tuli, Chairman – Osian’s Group. Vintage certainly is the flavour of the season!

Vintage Car Rallies in India

  • The Cartier Concours d’Elegance
  • Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally
  • VCCFI Vintage and Classic Car Rally
  • 21 Gun Salute International Vintage Car Rally & Concours Show
  • Delhi vintage car rally

Top 10 Vintage Cars You Can Buy

  • Studebaker Commander 1957
  • Beetle Volkswagen 1969
  • 1961 Fiat 1100 103 D
  • 1961 Wolseley 15/60
  • 1968 Morris Oxford “Farina”
  • 1948 Rover 12 P2
  • 1937 Austin Ten
  • 1936 Austin 10 Sherborne
  • 1937 Austin 7
  • 1947 Jaguar 1½ Litre Mark IV

This story first appeared in The Tribune dated June 1, 2019 here:

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