A spark in the old world

A spark in the old world

Pavan Kadam’s parking space is never too small for his vintage collection. It was after watching the movie ‘Herby’ 25 years ago that he was bitten by the Beetle bug. The love for it grew in him as he felt it had the perfect balance between aesthetics and mechanics, and the science and art of automobiles. 

The first Beetle came into his life in 2000. He had gone to a workshop to repair his Maruthi 800 but ended up falling in love with the 1967 limited edition Volkswagen Beetle that was lying rusted and discarded there. Though it looked like a worn-out piece, Pavan was able to decode the magic that lay beneath the layers. “I researched on the internet about the restoration process. I found out where I could buy certain spare parts, imported a few from Germany and brought the car to life again.”

The driving force behind his passion continued as he brought a 1972 Volkswagen Bus from his friend which came home in 2004. After much ado with a professor of Tata Institute, a 1967 Variant Station Wagon rolled  home in 2008. He also bought a Volkswagen fastback in 2010. “I think I’m done with my Volkswagen collection now,” says the former banker, laughing.

A resident of Vidyaranyapura, he passionately drives his prized collection on Airport Road. He takes them out on weekends when there is less traffic. He says one has to use one’s cars regularly to keep them in shape. His vintage cars always get priority in his parking space, when compared to the new ones.

It would be a misnomer to term him as a hobbyist or a collector of vintage cars. He is also the face behind many other wheels. The banker quit his job and turned a full-time mechanic in 2003 as he wanted to share his love for automobiles.

He says, “Collecting vintage cars is an expensive hobby since most of the parts have to be imported. It’s a hassle to search for the right mechanics in workshops as today’s workers aren’t equipped to restore old cars. So I formed my own club, ‘Bugstop’, and gathered people who knew about vintage cars. The club comprises people who are good at painting, those who know about restoring seats, where to avail spare parts etc.”

The orders he gets are not limited to the City. He has driven to Guwahati once to deliver a car. He is also a part of the Beetle Club in the City and participates in rallies which they organise. “There are many people who lack knowledge about parts of a vintage car and try to make a big business by saying that maintenance is expensive. This is another reason as to why I started ‘Bugstop’ – to make the service affordable, equip the car with modern technology and yet retain its old-school charm. I always promise the owner that the car will run for the next 5,000 km and it always has.” Though Bengaluru has a number of vintage car collectors, he says that the vintage culture here is private and reserved, as compared to Mumbai where it is bustling.

 It’s the bond between the man and the machine that has made him fall in love with vintage cars, unlike the technology-dependent ones, where one doesn’t feel like they are driving a car at all. “The new cars are built to last and have a specific shelf-life. They are easy to use and one doesn’t feel enthusiastic about driving them. There is a sea of difference between the new and ones. There is also a lot of sweat and effort that goes behind restoring a vintage car. It gives the owner a sense of joy that they have put so much effort in their machine.” Though the list of the Volkswagen dream cars that he wishes to own is saturated, he is planning to buy a Citroen DS to add to the largesse of his collection. However, he adds, “Volkswagen is very dear to my heart and will always remain my first love.”

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