Meet the band of Beetles

Meet the band of Beetles

Vintage pride

Meet the band of Beetles

It would be woefully wrong to talk about Ian Oberoi’s childhood without mentioning his affection and respect for cars, especially those of the vintage kind, and specifically, the Volkswagen Beetle.

His infatuation with the Beetle started when he was three years old. When most children’s lives revolved around playing on the roads or buying chocolates on their own, Ian delighted in spotting a Beetle, recognising the model and how many! As he pieces together anecdotes from his early years and recalls how he became the proud owner of the two beauties on wheels, his voice rings with excitement.

He used to envy the Beetles his grandfather’s colleagues owned as a child. In 1997, he noticed sales advertisements of Beetles and became aware of the owners. The businessman says, “It was not very popular in India and wasn’t easy to spot. I knew more about the cars and who was selling them from newspapers and magazines. Sometimes, I would take detours on the way back home just to have a glimpse of the Beetle.”

After a long, patient wait, he bought his first ‘crush’, a 1961 stunning blue kite, in 1999. In 2004, he bought a 1970 model. He now drives both of them down town once a week or once in 10 days. “They don’t require much maintenance if we drive them often. A lot of people stop me at signals and ask me about the car. My Beetles have attracted so many smiles so far. I feel so glad that people understand the car as one that has life and character.”

Though Ian has driven many cars till now, “nothing like the Beetle has made me feel one with the car.” He adds that there is much concentration involved while driving a vintage car as the technology is basic.

“Today’s mechanics lack the patience to handle vintage cars. They should understand that there is no ‘quick-fix’ solution. Most people say that they will return the car from servicing in an hour or two but it doesn’t work like that. They don’t understand the car as a baby. The Beetle has so many unique parts that one has to spend time with it.”

Even at home, Ian gives top priority for his Beetles in terms of the parking space. An active member of the Beetle Club, Ian says that the members are equally passionate and help each other. They also  organise events, rallies and drive around town for small picnics and family get-togethers. A true ‘Beetlenut’, Ian wants to own all the models and is currently eyeing the Beetle convertible.

Though collecting and maintaining vintage cars are expensive and rare today, Ian says that more than the cost, the time and the effort of the owner counts. “There is a certain uniqueness in the Beetle’s shape and design. It doesn’t go out of style or fashion and is a timeless, fresh icon. When it was designed in the late 30s and early 40s, people thought that the design would flop but it soon turned out to be a popular, compact, common man’s car. Specialities like the air-cooled, rear engine, makes it far from the regular.”

Ian is not looking to sell any of them anytime soon as the magnitude of regret will be immense and the car, irreplaceable. He hopes his son follows his passion for vintage cars too. “I would take my son for a ride in the Beetle when he was a baby and used to be cranky. He would fall asleep by the time I would reach home. I’m looking at this as a positive sign and hope his interest in the Beetle picks up later.”

(For details, email Ian at