The foggy streets of Kolkata came alive on Sunday morning with a fleet of vintage vehicles driving past and enchanting the pedestrians who stood awestruck by the sight. Like every year, The Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally 2020 unfailingly mesmerised the carlovers and the common people of the City of Joy alike. The 51st edition of The Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally witnessed the participation of 194 four-wheelers and two-wheelers, with 14 new entrants to the rally.
While old champions like Gebruder Stoewer, Dodge Kingsway Deluxe, Studebaker, Standard Herald held their prestigious positions, a few new entrants such as a 1925 Rolls Royce, a 1938 Austin, and a 1962 Fiat were the eye-catchers this year. Two-wheelers like a 1965 Ariel were not far behind. As the rally was flagged off from Eastern Command Sports Stadium at around 10 a.m., the joyousness was palpable among the visitors at the ground. While the cars moved along the roads in front of Eden Gardens, Esplanade, Statesman House and Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Shakespeare Sarani, Park Circus, Gariahat, Rashbehari Avenue, Bhowanipore, people standing by the roadside cheered in merriment and amazement.
While some youngsters missed no chance to click quick snapshots of the moving wonders, others relished the sounds of the humming engines reminiscent of an old era. A 1925 Rolls Royce owned by Mrs Rekha Kanoria attracted the attention of the spectators and the judges alike. Renovated over a period of seven years by Shrivardhan Kanoria, this yellow and black Rolls Royce Phantom I which participated for the first time, grabbed the eyeballs and bagged two awards ~ the Kolkata Port Trust Trophy and the Andrew Yule Trophy for the best restored car in the Vintage and Classic Cars category.
The Kolkata Port Trust has introduced their trophy for the first time this year which marks its 150th anniversary. Another attraction of the rally was a Gebruder Stoewer owned by the Chowdhury family from Midnapore, whose ancestors were once the landlords of the area. Manufactured at Stettin in Germany in 1913, this green and gold vehicle was restored by late Pratap Chowdhury in 1999.
Currently looked after by his Ananda Chowdhury, this car won the Sashi Kanoria Trophy for the oldest car on view, the Hindustan Motor Trophy for oldest car completing the full course, the Gainwell Trophy for the best maintained car built up to 1922 and the Robin Mookherji Memorial Trophy for second runner-up for the best overall performance of the day. The awards were given in four categories of ‘Vintage and Classic Cars and Motorcycles’, ‘Classic Cars and Motorcycles’, ‘Vintage Cars and Motorcycles and Heritage’.
The Statesman Trophy for the best overall performance of the day in the ‘Heritage’ category went to 1963 Standard Herald owned by Vaishno Motors and driven by Ajay Kejriwal. The C. R. Irani Trophy and The Suresh Kumar Memorial Trophy in this category were awarded to a 1962 Fiat owned by Indrojit S. Sircar and 1954 Fiat owned by Deb Kumar Pal. In the Vintage category, the Statesman Trophy was given to 1929 Ford owned by late Vijay Sureka and driven by Gautam Sureka. 1938 Adler of Gadai Chand Dey and Stoewer of Ananda Chowdhury were awarded the second and third prizes respectively in this category.
The Statesman Trophy in the Classic category were awarded to 1968 Mercedes Benz owned by S. Palchoudhuri. The second and third awards in this category were awarded to Buick Super 8 of Sanjoy Ghosh and 1961 Haflinger of Subhendu Kar.
Speaking at the conclusion of the rally, the editor of The Statesman, Mr. Ravindra Kumar said, “I extend my thanks to the Indian Army without whom this event would not have taken place. Not only did they provide us with this venue but also they extended all types of support to it. I also express my thanks to Kolkata Port Trust and Kolkata Police for their cooperation. Despite the anti- CAA rallies and rush of pilgrims from Gangasagar, Kolkata Police has extended all their supports and organized the route very well. I also sincerely thank the judges and marshals who are doing it for the preservation of heritage.”
Mrs. Antara Kumar and Kolkata Port Trust chairman, Vinit Kumar, distributed the trophies. The occasion was graced by the presence of general officer commanding-in-chief, Eastern Command, Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan.