The old in the new

Vintage pride
Last Updated 15 February 2016, 19:51 IST

Life took multiple turns for engineer and entrepreneur Byas Nambisan at different stages. However, what remained is his reverence and love for cars — be it the old, charming beauties or the modern, shiny vehicles. They continue to hold a special place in his heart.

While growing up, his penchant for cars translated to curiosity as he recalls that he was interested in learning about everything that went behind a basic model — the interiors and engines, the suspensions and their restoration and the mechanics behind the machine.

He was so fascinated by these beauties on four wheels that he wanted to work at a garage for a while, before he joined his engineering, just to try and understand a few concepts. However, he couldn’t get anybody to take him. After much ado, his mother knew the owner of a garage and Byas worked there for a while, describing it as a “rich learning experience”.

His 1971 Volkswagen Convertible is his vehicle of pride. It was his father’s car that was passed on to him later. Byas recalls that his father too loved cars as a child. He says, “There wasn’t much of a choice those days when it came to buying vintage cars and it wasn’t very affordable. However, I remember my dad telling me about his craze and passion for vintage cars. The Volkswagen was brought to India by a lady from Germany. Those days, there was a rule that they had to sell the car here before going back. So it was auctioned off and though it was pretty expensive, my dad bought it at this auction.” Clearly, it was passion that paid off.

Today, Byas drives his Volkswagen around the neighbourhood, in Whitefield, on weekends and takes it out during early mornings, before the traffic starts in the City. “The roads are horrible and people drive very rashly so one can’t always take out their car whenever they want to.”

Byas loves his modern cars too, with all their “refinement, comfort in the machines and precise electrical engineering”. However, he adds, “One can work on vintage cars themselves. There is a challenge in restoring an old cars, recreating it and bringing it back to life. I fix my car myself. To run around and try and find mechanics is also quite time-consuming and expensive. Many people don’t know the right mechanics and the younger mechanics aren’t fully equipped to fix vintage cars. The latter work on vintage cars as if they are fixing a new car. They try a Maruti carburetor for a vintage car and say that the problem is fixed but it doesn’t work that way. This is where clubs are useful as they serve as valuable sources of information and act like a good social support system.”

Having spent time in USA for about four years, he says that the vintage culture is quite bustling there. And as for the Volkswagen, it has been his favourite brand for multiple reasons.

 “It’s revolutionary in its motoring. It’s an ageless, timeless, iconic beauty. The basic design of the car hasn’t changed despite several new features and it’s adapted to work even today. I also have a special bond with it because of some sentimental connect. My parents used it and now I drive my kids in it.”

Though it is an expensive hobby, Byas says that it’s not so much about investing money as much as it is about the time and effort.

“What is too much money? Too much is a relative question. Too much can be really too much to someone and nothing at all to someone else. One does need land as the cars take up a lot of space. However, one has to enjoy them and drive them regularly and treat them like family.”

(Byas can be reached on

(Published 15 February 2016, 13:55 IST)

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