Beat it with Beetle

Vintage pride

Beat it with Beetle

Like most young boys, Narendra P Raj too had a fascination for cars and more so for the vintage ones. From owning a yellow toy Beetle, which his uncle bought him in 1979, to owning a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle in 2005, life has come a full circle for him.

As Narendra grew up, he began to wear many hats but his love for the Beetle remained unchanged. Armed with the dream of owning a Volkswagen at some point, Narendra went to the USA to finish his Masters in robotics.

     He graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Now, he is also a student
pilot and is learning to fly a Cessna aircraft. After returning to India and hearing nuggets about  cars, his passion for vehicles fuelled even more.

His dream came true in 2005 when he found out that someone in town was selling a Beetle.  Narendra restored it with the help of a mechanic and since then, it has been an iconic part of the family. He drives the car quite often around town, inviting numerous stares and strangers who take pictures with his car and ask him the story behind it.

       He says, “The first question people always ask me is whether the car runs on petrol or diesel. Many times, people take away their car from the parking lot and give me space for my car because they know that a vintage car takes up space. I am happy that others understand the charm of a vintage car as well. Whenever I drive my vintage car to the mall and the security guards check the boot, they always smile, looking at my Beetle’s rear engine.”

Though the roads are in a bad condition, Narendra makes sure that he drives it around town often and says that the very fact that his Beetle has stayed on for a long time now speaks of the strength of the German design.

     He forgets about the traffic and raucous vehicles when he is driving his car. As someone who owns the latest cars as well, he says that they are easy, comfortable, powerful and safe.

      “Nevertheless, the older cars have a soul. My Beetle never lets me down. It may stop in front of my house but it has never stopped on the road. I feel that it has a mind of its own. My son loves the Beetle too and every morning, he asks me to drive him in it.”

     But as much as he is passionate about vintage cars, he loves restoring them equally.
He adds, “I have imported a lot of parts from abroad and have cartons of items like spare engines and clutches. It’s quite an addictive interest and I go through a sleepless night if there is anything wrong with my car.”

     He is also one of the co-founders of the Beetle Club which meets up often at Cubbon Park and is happy to see that today, youngsters share the same passion for vintage cars.

“Social media has democratised everything. People avail information on where to buy cars, how to source parts and whom to buy from through groups on Facebook. Many also have disposable income and end up collecting vintage cars. It’s not a bad hobby,” he says.

“Car restoration is also becoming popular. We are passionate and do it ourselves and anyone can learn the process if they want to,” he adds.

He wishes to share his love for the Beetle with the world and describes it as one of the most ‘iconic vehicles in the world which can brighten up anyone’s day’.

     “The Beetle never fails to put a smile on anyone’s face, wherever I go,” he gushes.


(Narendra can be reached at narendra.raj@gmail.com)

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