Country drives to capital

Retro Drive

Yaseer Ibrahim, a middle-aged businessman, has half a dozen vintage cars but he drove Rolls Royce, as it’s the oldest of the lot (made in 1912), at HMCI car rally which culminated at Leisure Valley Grounds in Gurgaon on Sunday.

Ibrahim was one of the 125 vintage car enthusiasts who took part in the rally along with the creme-de-la creme of Delhi-NCR including Diljeet Titus, KTS Tulsi and Madan Mohan.

The third part of this annual rally saw participation from not only the capital but from several corners of India – Mumbai, Jaipur, Kanpur and Lucknow. “This year our rally went pan-India and beckoned a large number of vintage car owners from different cities,” said Madan Mohan, the organiser and managing director of 21 Gun Salute restaurant.

The cars which took part included Austin, Morris Major, Willys MB, Buick super 8 and Plymouth Limousine PJ6. Flagged off by Army chief General Bikram Singh, the rally was a splendid affair with cars dating back to 1909 while some were as new as 1974.

 All the participants share a strong passion for driving old and rare mechanical-beauties. Ibrahim, who inherited his Rolls Royce 1912 from his father, performs his ‘duty’ in maintaining the car. Every few days, he drives the car for the warm-up of the engine but when it comes to maintenance, he can’t afford to take chances so relies only on Rolls-Royce’s chief mechanical engineer Jonathan Harley, who flies every year from London to Kanpur to perform some ‘tricks.’ Ibrahim doesn’t mind shelling out a whopping 200 pounds per hour for the expert maintenance as the car is simply ‘priceless’.

The organiser Madan Mohan, didn’t drive his favourite Phantom 1 at the rally because he was too busy to participate himself. He tells Metrolife that the response was overwhelming this year which was evident from the fact that the number of participants grew from last year’s 65 to 125 this season.

No prizes for guessing that Madan can’t find spare parts for his beloved Phantom in India, so they have to be imported from the companies abroad. Besides this, the regular maintenance is no mean task for which he relies on his 80-year-old chief mechanic. “I have no idea of who would maintain my cars once the old man dies,” he said.

Another participant Mumbai-based Nitin Dossa, who is a proud owner of 50 vintage cars, eulogised Delhi’s wide roads at the rally. “Back in Mumbai, it’s not easy to drive down a vintage car because the roads are relatively narrower,” he said.

Dossa drove a Bentley (a 1947 make) from Panchsheel Club to Gurgaon’s Leisure Valley Grounds. He loves the car so much so that he even remembers the car’s history by heart. The “Maharaja of Mysore was the car’s first buyer in 1947 who later sold it to Maharaja of Bharatpur. During the floods in 1960s, the car was left stranded for more than two years and was later sold at a throwaway price to a gentleman who restored it before using the car for three decades. In 1995, he sold it to me,” he said.

The organisers were thrilled at the footfall of hundreds of people who had showed up just to have a glimpse of the rare vintage cars in Gurgaon. Madan Mohan is now planning to take the rally to an international level. “We are expecting to see participation from vintage cars in London, Belgium and other places,” he said.

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