Roving on glorious wheels

Vintage pride

Roving on glorious wheels

Omar Kaiser jokes that had he not been married, he would have been in the Andamans now with his prized possessions — three classic Land Rovers. Hailing from Bengaluru, Omar runs an adventure tourism company, owns lounges and recently started a garden store in the City. “My plan is to go back to adventure tourism where these vehicles play an important role. It was with this intention that I started collecting these Land Rovers. These vehicles have a rich history due to their capability and reliability. More than speed, it’s the capability of the vehicle that is important and the Land Rovers are the best when it comes to being reliable even in the most difficult conditions,” he says.

He remembers his father as an adventurous person, who was not only a mountaineer, horse rider and badminton player, but also a two-wheeler and four-wheeler rallyist.
“At a young age, I was introduced to the outdoors. I took part in various rallys and activities like camping and now, I make sure that my children are also exposed to them,” he says.

Ask him about how he developed a passion for vintage and classic cars and he says, “In 2007, my friend Narayan introduced me to the Land Rovers. Those days, they were not expensive and people did not value them much. So I thought it was a great opportunity to collect them. I bought three for myself and picked up four more for my friend.”

The classics, according to Omar, are tough and not meant to be driven fast. All the three vehicles he owns came to India as ambulances or health care vans, either donated by the WHO or individuals.

The rarest among them is the 1966 Land Rover, an open-top vehicle that belongs to the II A series. It had come from Kulu Manali Mission Hospital as an ambulance. “The surprising part about this Land Rover is that it still has the original engine and gearbox. Razak, the previous owner, had taken a lot of effort to maintain it,” he adds.

The second in the collection is a green Land Rover from Kerala, which belongs to series III 109. It is a 1973 model that belonged to Caritus India, an NGO in Thrissur and was used as an ambulance. The third one in the collection is the white 110 petrol Land Rover, which belonged to the National Tuberculosis Institute, Bengaluru and was used to transport X-ray machines. “All the three vehicles I own are 4x4’s. I also bought a Willys jeep two years ago, which belonged to the Indian Army in 1981.” He adds, “Finding a Willys with a trailer is very rare and I was lucky to have found this one in a small village in Thirthahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru.”

Omar and his children consider these vehicles as family and like to call them by the names that they have given to each one of them.

Omar explains, “It was the 1966 model that made me start collecting Land Rovers. The effect that she had on me was so magical that I named her Maya. I call the one from Kerala — Kairali. She was used as a school bus, ambulance and civil bus before she came to me. Incidently, I found her without a gearbox and an engine and restored her. The last one in the collection is a petrol vehicle and I like to call her Laaila — she is the fastest and most efficient. We call the Willys — Billy, the goat.”

On how he maintains his collection, he says, “I understand vehicles and have been maintaining them for a long time. So I do all the work myself. I source parts from Mumbai and Siliguri and have not imported a single part. Till date, I have never towed any of them to the garage. I have always driven them as they have been in a working condition.”
He adds, “These cars are built to last — the Land Rovers have aluminium bodies and their chassis are made of galvanised steel. This vehicles will live longer than everybody alive today. It is said that 70 per cent of the Land Rovers, that have been manufactured since 1947, are still running.”

Speaking of his love for these vehicles, he says, “After my family, I love my cars the most! I personally want to go to the Andamans. I tell my wife a lot of times that if I was not married, I would have been in the Andamans with Maya, Laaila and Kairali and would have never come back,” he laughs. For details, call 9845581829.

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