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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride

Archana Matharu   March 26, 2013
First Published: 22:41 IST(26/3/2013) | Last Updated: 22:45 IST(26/3/2013)

Old is Gold, and it certainly holds true for these classic beauties. A vintage car is like old wine — only those who have a flair for it can understand its true value.

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Our region, however, is full of such vintage and classic car lovers, for whom these beauties are prized possessions. They care for them like family members and feel proud about flaunting them on roads.

Rohit Kapur,
businessman, Amritsar

Striking red colour, catchy number, PID 6789, and shiny body — Kapur’s 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is certainly the labour of his love. It took Kapur nearly two-and-a-half years to refurnish the entire car and give the pristine look that it sports today.

“The car is nearly 46 years old, but now it looks brand new. The car participated in a vintage rally held last month in Agra and was driven from Agra to Delhi and then back to Amritsar,” says the proud owner. The car has been in the family for last many years, but three years ago, Kapur decided to restore it. Interestingly, the entire process has been carried out in Kapur’s own car workshop.

Sharing more details, Kapur says the shape of the car is known as ‘razor edge’ while the car is a Type-3 model. The car has a rear engine, no radiator and has an air-cooled engine. “German cars were made for cold countries. Although these cars work fine in India, peak summer months of May and June are the time when the cars have to be kept in sheds,” he adds.
 
In the process of its restoration, it has been painted in original colours and all original parts have been procured for the car (mostly from UK). “I am, however, still hunting for original radio,” Kapur adds.

Besides this red beauty, Kapoor also owns a 1984 Maruti, which was imported from Japan at that time, and a convertible Mercedes. “Another of my cars, a 1927 Ford Model A, is also being reconditioned and would be ready in a few months,” he adds. 
  
BS Manco, ex-businessman, founding secretary, Vintage and Classic Cars Club, Chandigarh
“Present day cars are just instruments that transport people. They are like matchboxes. Vintage cars, however, have art and design to them, which make them head-turners,” says Manco, while narrating his love for vintage and classic cars.

Vintage and classic cars were present in the family right since Manco was a kid. Hence, he grew up with the passion and has been a vintage and classic car lover for more than 30 years now. The proud owner of seven vintage and classic cars, Manco’s most prized possession is a 1938 Citroen, which he says is a rare car. “There is one other Citroen in New Delhi but that is a 1940 model,” he adds.

He also owns 1948 and 1960 Chevrolets and 1965 Mercedes cars. 

He believes that the owner of these cars should possess basic knowledge about them, since mechanics are not easily available.

Manco’s love for these cars finds reflection in his son too. “My son is keener that I am. He lives in the US and has recently bought his first vintage car,” Manco smiles.

Inderpal Singh Gill,
businessman, Ludhiana

Love for vintage and classic cars run in Gill’s blood. His grandfather was a car enthusiast and so is his father. The reflection of this love can be seen in the fleet of 17 cars and 12 two wheelers owned by Gill, which he maintains in his 80-foot by seven-foot shed.

His prized possessions include 1929 Austin 7 (popularly known as Baby Austin), 1933 Standard Flying 8 (the registration card of this vehicle is also of the British Era and has British stamps on it), 1942 Ford Jeep, 1966 Toyota Corona, two Mercedes, 1942 Norton 500 cc British war bike, Lambretta Scooter, 1971 Java bike and 1977 Yezdi bike, besides five Volkswagen Beetles and three Volkswagen 2VW camper vans.

“People often stop me midway to ask about the average that my vehicles give, its features and whether I am interested in selling them. But these vehicles are my joy rides; I am not concerned if they give less average or don’t have air-conditioners. Moreover, I will never sell them; they are like family members,” says Gill.

Gill also undertakes the entire work of maintenance of his vehicles on his own, with the aid of one helper and an array of books and tools. “I feel that instead of spending money on mechanics, the same amount should be spent on buying books and tools. Besides, mechanics these days do not have the understanding of the working of these cars,” he says.

These vehicles have simple engineering and are easy to maintain; it’s just a time consuming process, and their parts are difficult to procure. They have to be either imported or fabricated at times, Gill adds. Gill also believes in maintaining the originality of these vintage beauties and is against using metallic colours or alloy wheels on his vehicles.

Rajinder Sokhi,
auto professional, Ludhiana

The vintage vehicles owned by Sokhi are stars — not just because he loves them dearly, but also because they have been featured in movies and TV shows. His 1962 Ford Zodiac was featured in Bollywood film Bodyguard and two Volkswagen Beetles were part of British Comedy, West is West.

Since 1996, Sokhi has been passionate about vintage cars. His first car was a Chevrolet Impala. At present, he is the proud owner of 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, 1931 Ford Roadster, 1928 Ford Model A and 1964 Italian Fiat, besides Lambretta and Bobby Rajdoot scooters.
A few years ago, Sokhi turned his passion into profession. Now, he restores vintage cars for a living. “A vintage car has to be made from scratch. It has to be assembled pin-by-pin,” he says.

Sokhi further shares that restoring these vehicles take about eight months to a year, sometimes even more. “Most of these cars are imported, hence their parts are not easily available. We have to search for parts, import them, and at times even fabricate them,” he says.

The work may be tedious, but Sokhi loves it to the core. “I am fascinated by these cars, since they can give tough competition to a modern Mercedes or Jaguar,” he says.

Balbir Singh,
car workshop owner,
SAS Nagar   

Although Singh is not educated, his knowledge of cars can give anybody a run for their money. Since 1958, Singh has been working with cars and continues to do so till date.
Owner of Paul Motors, SAS Nagar, Singh owns five such beauties, the oldest being a 1925 Austin. His other vehicles include a 1928 Ford, 1950 Morris minor and 1955 Land Master.
    
Besides being a lover of vintage and classic cars, Singh knows the ins and outs of how to repair and maintain these cars. A member of Chandigarh’s Vintage and Classic Cars Club, he undertakes the job of repairing and maintaining cars of all club members.

“I have spent my entire life being associated with cars. I learnt the work in Delhi and later worked at a workshop in Chandigarh for 40 years. Five years ago, I started my workshop,” shares Singh. 

The challenge in looking after these cars is to maintain their beauty and the ethnicity, says he. Besides, nowadays, mechanics do not believe in repairing parts. All they do is replace any faulty part. These cars, however, work well with just basic repair and maintenance, he adds.

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