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Vintage cars back on Jaipur streets

Antique and classic cars are now back on the streets of this Rajasthan capital to charm tourists.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2005 20:37 IST

Antique and classic cars from a different age are now back on the streets of this Rajasthan capital to let tourists enjoy the magic and charm of the state's bygone royal era.

Propelled by passion and the rising requirement of tourists, most car lovers here, who have large vintage car collections, have either started renting them out or are in the process of doing so.

KS Rathore, a travel agent, said "Foreign tourists are crazy about everything and anything antique, especially those things connected with royalty. Now most tourists visiting Jaipur demand vintage cars for travelling in the city".

"For them commuting in these vintage cars is just like a dream come true as they have only heard about these graceful beauties and seen them only in art galleries", he added.

Be it a 1923 Austin Seven Chummy or a 1926 Erskin, a 1928-model Ford or even a 1938 Dodge Brothers, these vintage cars are finding favour among foreign tourists.

Rashid of Car Craze, who owns a fleet of vintage royal cars, said: "We were the first to introduce this novel concept in Rajasthan. We have more than 10 royal cars which we rent to tourists and also for marriages."

He said various travel agencies hire the cars to welcome tourists at the airport or to carry them to the dinner parties arranged by the erstwhile rulers of Jaipur.

Some tourists also like to visit various sightseeing spots in Jaipur in these old vehicles.

Owing to their delicate engines and extremely low average speed of about 4-5 km an hour, such cars are used only within the city and not for long journeys.

Rashid said: "As these machines have aged, it's difficult to use them continuously for the whole day. So they are used only for short trips."

According to him, the business of renting vintage cars is benefiting not only their owners in Jaipur but also tourism in the state.

He said: "Owning and maintaining a vintage car today is very costly. Maintaining a single vintage car means a monthly expense of about Rs.10,000 to Rs.12,000.

"Besides, if you don't drive these cars regularly some of their important parts get damaged automatically. But renting them out has reduced these problems to a great extent.

"Renting these cars is not always profitable but the amount one earns this way helps in their maintenance."

Rashid and other vintage car owners, however, refused to talk about the rental charges.

But tourism experts say a vintage car can fetch anything between Rs 1,000 and Rs3,000 a day. However, car owners have to bear the expenses of the chauffeur, who is usually dressed in a white sherwani and a coloured turban to welcome tourists.

Several film directors have also approached Rashid to rent his collection for their films. But the only thing that worries him is the proper maintenance of these vintage cars.

First Published: Dec 19, 2005 17:23 IST