Steering through the past

Steering through the past
Chandrashekhar Mathure’s love for vintage cars has withstood the test of time. His interest in old cars began when he was 18, when he also learnt to drive — in his father’s old Standard 8. But he had to wait for a while to put his passion into action to collect old beauties.

After pursuing a career in marine engineering, Chandrashekhar relocated to Bengaluru from Mumbai 28 years ago. This also marked the beginning of his journey seeking out rare and vintage cars. Today, Chandrashekhar has in his possession five vintage beauties — a 1948 model Wolseley 8 (a saloon car), a two-door 1949 model of Morris Minor with low light, a 1939 model Studebaker Champion, a two-door 1961 model of Triumph Herald and a 1962 model of Standard Companion.

While Wolseley 8 and Morris Minor are in perfect running condition, Chandrashekhar has got down to restoring Studebaker Champion. He gets nostalgic when he starts talking about the Studebaker Champion. “There are only two cars of this particular model of Studebaker Champion available today in the country and I own one of them,” he beams. He bought it from a friend in whose house it was lying as  junk. “I bought it five years ago. The restoration is taking a while but I hope to complete it soon,” he asserts.

The Wolseley 8 was bought 25 years ago from a Colonel. “I never saw the owner but this car was extensively used during the British period. It is in perfect running condition,” he says.

The Morris Minor came from Kolkata through another friend who regularly supplies the vintage spares to Chandrashekhar. And the Standard Companion was bought from a lawyer friend. Chandrashekhar says he had to pursue a Squadron Leader for six months before he agreed to part with the two-door Triumph Herald, a 1961 model. 

The Wolseley 8 and Morris Minor are taken out every weekend. “Every Sunday morning my wife Anuprita and I drive from Indiranagar to Koramangala in either of the two cars and return home after breakfast,” he says. The cars are taken out only when there is less traffic. “It is difficult to navigate and you cannot apply brakes immediately. There must be a gap of at least eight to ten feet. It’s a pleasure to drive these vehicles only when the roads are empty,” he explains.

Chandrashekhar has also made provisions to park all his cars safely in his house. “The main car porch area can accommodate at least four vehicles at a time. I don’t want the cars to be parked on the roads. They are all parked inside safely and covered well to keep the dust out,” he says.

During the weekends, Chandrashekhar cleans the cars and inspects them. “Over the years, I have learnt to identify little problems which I fix myself. I approach the mechanic only in case of a major issue,” he explains.  Chandrashekhar is glad that both his children share with him a passion for vintage cars. “My son who is in the US now says he wants to come down for three months and learn about these cars before taking them on,” he says.

Anuprita, an architect by profession, also holds a deep interest for everything vintage and classic. “It’s not just about cars, I also have with me old wall clocks and Anuprita collects rare coins,” he says.

The couple have chosen some rare colours to paint the Morris Minor and Wolseley 8. “I chose green for the Morris because I not only wanted to restore it but make it look attractive and not appear run-of-the-mill kind. The Wolseley 8 is a combination of dark green and black which again is a rare colour,” he observes.  

Chandrashekhar is also a member of Karnataka Vintage and Classic Car Club (KVCC), and a regular at all the vintage rallies in the City. 

(Chandrashekhar can be reached on agamech@hotmail.com)

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