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In the fast lane

Shazia Hasan |

If you receive a ‘fraandship’ request from anyone standing beside a beautiful Ferrari, Jeep, SUV, Harley-Davidson or any other exotic set of wheels, think twice before accepting it. In case you are doing it because you like the automobile in the picture, chances are that the person got that picture taken during the Karachi Car-Nival 2017, which showcased many such cars last week.

Despite the rope-and-post barriers around the cars, volunteers at the motor show, organised by Motorheads Pakistan and Bullseye Communications, were having a difficult time keeping the enthusiasts away from the cars and bikes on display. Every other minute, there would be someone or the other stepping inside the cordoned off area and posing for a photo.

“Please beta, don’t touch that,” says Saifullah Khan, a young volunteer guarding the cars behind the barriers, to a seven-year-old boy who seemed so much in love with the shiny black Porsche that he was lying on top of its bonnet, with arms outstretched as if giving it a bear hug. The youngster had to be pulled away from the car by two volunteers who swiftly deposited him back on the other side of the barriers.  “It is even more difficult keeping the women at bay. We can’t even force them to leave,” says Mohammad Umer, another volunteer.

Two women visitors, mother Sana Yasser and daughter Raveeha Yasser were so happy to be there that they were even appreciative of a decorated rickshaw in a stall. But when it came to other kinds of wheels, the main attractions of the show, the mother liked the fast cars such as the Ferraris, MGs, Aston Martins, Jaguars, Mercedes and BMWs while the daughter fell in love with the Harley-Davidsons, Suzuki Hayabusas, Moto Guzzis, Ducatis and the classic Triumphs.

The mother said that she drives a Honda Civic but was hoping to seal a deal with the owner of a Mazda RX-8 soon. When informed that RX-7 would be a better choice, she said that she is aware of which is the better car but she is getting the former at an affordable price. Meanwhile, the daughter then disclosed her age. At just 16, she isn’t going to get a license so she could utilise the time to learn and better her biking skills on a Honda C70. “Well, I have to begin somewhere before going on to the bigger and better bikes,” she says.

Only the volunteers and car owners are allowed near the cars. Some of the owners begin to panic when they see anyone approaching their car while some don’t mind at all. A young man, Umer Humayun, understands the possessiveness of the finicky vehicle owners. He is into detailing, a way of cleaning and maintaining these expensive machines through high-quality products including ceramic coating. “It’s to make them scratch-resistant,” he explains. “After that you don’t even need to wax or polish your car after washing it,” he says.

About the cost of the treatment, he says that it depends on the size of the vehicle. “An average car, the size of a Corolla, will cost you around 35,000 rupees,” he says. “But such cars are owned by the elite class. Surely, they can afford the extra protection.”  Nadir Magsi, a member of the Sindh provincial assembly, is also there with a white Ferrari along with several others from his vast collection of fast machines. “The Ferrari actually belongs to my brother Amer Magsi,” he shares. “It’s a 2010 F430 Spider. ‘Spider’ means it is a convertible.” The seven Magsi brothers share a deep love for powerful fast cars. Between them they own a collection of some 150 to 200 sets of wheels. “I have lost the actual count now,” laughs Magsi.

And where do they park so many cars? “At home, in our village and at our garage and workshop in Korangi,” he replies. “With so many cars it was both sensible and feasible to have our own car workshop, too, so that we can take care of them ourselves.” Magsi says that his father Saifullah Magsi and grandfather Mehboob Ali Magsi loved their cars, which were also quite extraordinary.

“My grandfather had his own collection of Buicks, Pontiacs and Cadillacs,” Magsi says. “I still remember and miss my father’s 1956 300 SL Gullwing Mercedes. There were only 27 of them in the world but we were only children when he passed away and not realising its worth my mother sold it off. I miss that car dearly.” He said that it was because of its upward swinging doors. When opened they resembled the wings of sea gull – thus the model name ‘Gullwing’.

There was a separate line of trucks on display. Fords seemed to be everyone’s favourite there. There was a place reserved for jeeps as well. Though we are used to calling every other four-wheel drive vehicle a jeep, ‘Jeep’ is an actual brand name. Syed Sarfaraz Noor wanted to draw attention to his yellow CJ-7 Jeep in mint condition, so he had turned on its headlights. After a while, when the headlights began draining the battery, he also turned on the engine to keep the battery charged. About his pride and joy, Noor says that he came across it in Old Golimar, when it was barely more than a rusted frame on a chassis.

“After buying it from its previous owner, I got down to work,” he says. “I scraped off the rust from the chassis and body myself before applying generous coats of anti-rust on them before giving it a colour of my choice. The innards were gone so I fitted in a Toyota Surf engine. It is a 2.7-litre engine with automatic transmission,” he says while telling me about the snorkel he has fitted to it so that it can also move about when submerged.

Mohsin Ikram, chairman of Motorheads Pakistan and founding president of the Vintage and Classic Car Club of Pakistan, said that car shows such as the Karachi Car-Nival 2017 are a good way of bringing car enthusiasts together. “It also promotes a soft image of our country abroad where people are associating us with God knows what not,” he smiles before hurrying back to check on his own automobiles in the show.