Why should we pay for maintaining our cars well, ask passionate owners

Some say their vehicles are on par with newer models, if not better than them

In first class condition’ is how Ashok Kumar Sharma instantly describes his 15-year-old Maruti Suzuki Zen car. He is also the proud owner of a 20-year-old Bajaj Chetak scooter. 

He intends to henceforth keep it limited to the local streets which do not see frequent presence of law-enforcement agencies. As for the car, he is on the lookout for any exchange offers.

So far he has found none and that is a cause of worry for Sharma, 60, who retired as the legal advisor to a private firm. 

“Banks will not offer me a loan at this age. Any decent car in the market costs not less than Rs 5 lakh. I do not have enough savings to spend so much on a new car,” says Sharma.

In any case, he doesn’t believe that his car is any lesser than the ones allowed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to ply on the road. 

“I have invested in regular maintenance of my car. Why should I be forced to let go of my car while some others own several cars,” he says.

Kamlesh Pahwa, working for a private bank in Delhi, is angry for other reasons. His small family already owns four cars, but they too do not want to part with their 21-year-old Maruti 800 car. 

“This car holds great sentimental value for my family. It was our first vehicle ever, bought by my father at a time when most other people owned only motorcycles. It was quite a wonderful feeling when the car first arrived at our home,” says Pahwa.

He says his entire family learnt to drive using this car itself. “We still get it serviced from the agency we bought it from. It emits no pollution and is in a terrific condition,” he claims. 

To substantiate his claim, he says the entire family has driven to Punjab and back twice in the last two years in this car and faced no problems. “We drove in this car just for the emotional feel of it,” he says. The family is likely to send the vehicle to Pahwa’s elder brother who serves in the army in Punjab. 

“It is a ceramic green Maruti car, not often seen on the roads anymore. There is no question of parting with this car,” says Pahwa.

Anupam Chaudhary had bought a 1984-built Mahindra DI Jeep four years ago from a friend. He is now forced to put out an advertisement on second hand goods website. 

“This jeep would serve me for many more years. But no point retaining it when I have to confront the law each time I take the vehicle out,” says Chaudhary. He is targeting buyers outside Delhi where the NGT rule about old vehicles are not in effect.

For Chintamani in Paharganj, parting from his 17-year-old goods-carrier auto is a question of bread and butter. He has been riding the noisy vehicle through the busy streets of Paharganj all these years, transporting goods. 

“I know this auto is old and very slow. But I never faced problems driving it. I do not have the money to buy a new auto,” says Chintamani.

Motorcycle owners too rue the new law. IT professional Himanshu Sinha’s 1997-manufactured Yamaha RX100 motorcycle is out for sale since one month. 

“Till a few months ago, people would offer me as much as Rs 25,000 for my motorcycle, but I would refuse. Today I am putting it on sale for Rs 10,000, but there are no buyers,” says Sinha. “Passionately maintained” is how he begins the advertisement on a second hand goods website.

Rajat Dixit, meanwhile, was never in two minds when it came to his 1984-built Royal Enfield Standard. “I will keep it parked at my home forever just for the sake of old memories,” he says. The memories include taking his wife out on rides before they were married and three trips to Ladakh with other bikers over the last 10 years.

Then there are some others like Shyam Sundar, a shopkeeper who brought his GTS Rajdoot to Delhi while moving to the city from his hometown in Bihar in early 1990s. 

Given the poor mileage of this 1984-motorcycle, he rarely rides it to work. “The motorcycle reminds me of my village. If I did not sell it all these years, a new rule is not going to make me discard it,” says Sundar.

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