In the middle circle of M-Block in Connaught Place is Krishna Garage. It is one of the few garages that specialise in repairing and restoring vintage cars. After all it is owned by a family of vintage car enthusiasts.
“The love for vintage cars runs in the veins of my family, and has been passed down through the generations,” said Prem Sharma, the proprietor of Krishna Garage and a veteran of The Statesman Rally.
“I am the third generation from my family to be a part of this endeavour, and now my son, daughters, nieces and nephews all are carrying forward this love affair with vintage cars,” said Prem, who quit his practice as a chartered accountant to get full time into running his family business.
Prem said his niece settled in Australia is flying down just to participate in the Statesman rally on 11 February. His brother Gyan has been a regular judge at the rally.
“We have been a regular part of this rally since our childhood when our father used to pack us kids and our friends in his 1927 Chevrolet for a day of annual picnic and outing.
Those days the rally used to go towards Sohna and the entire road was lined up with people on both sides cheering us on. Those are some of the fondest memories I have of my childhood,” said Prem, with childlike excitement.
“Of course things have changed a bit now with the younger generation having other distractions, yet one can always find new takers for these classic beauties”, he said nonchalantly.
Prem warned, “There is a big difference between genuine love and infatuation for these vintage beauties. A number of youngsters are infatuated with these cars, but once their initial infatuation peters out they lose interest”.
He said to be a genuine vintage car lover, one has to have that in-built passion, and certain qualities like patience which don’t come easy. “We got this 1936 Singer Bantam after 20 years of efforts,” he said, pointing at a green car. “Then of course there is the question of money and more importantly space; a sharp eye to differentiate between a restorable car and junk and lastly a family willing to put up with your passion,” said Prem.
The Sharmas have an impressive collection of vintage cars, – two 1936 Fiat Bellila, one convertible and one sedan; a 1928 Austin Chummy; 1936 Singer Bantam, which they will be driving in this year’s rally after 18 years; and the oldest, the 1913 Morris ‘Bulldoz’ Oxford.
On how difficult it is to maintain these cars, Prem replied, “With the coming of internet and online vintage clubs, it’s easier to get the spare parts, besides even the companies are coming out with new parts which can help restore the classics to their prime condition.”.
What does he think of modern day cars? “Well they are fine, but they are pure technology, with no character whatsoever, besides they all look so similar,” said Prem with a chuckle.