An army of vintage cars and bikes drove into the Statesman House in New Delhi on a sunny morning of 21 October for the Vintage & Classic Car Show – a special event to kickstart the preparations for the annual Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally.
As many as 50 vintage and classic cars along with eight vintage motorbikes were displayed by their respective owners as part of the special event that marks the starting point of the road to the rally which will be held in February next year.
The event was held from 10 am to 2 pm at the Statesman House, which is located on Barakhamba Road in New Delhi.
Proud owners displayed vintage and classic cars and bikes from pre-1970s period. Among them were a 1932 Bentley, a 1939 Lagonda, a 1947 Dodge, two 1936 Rolls Royce, a 1951 Jaguar, a 1939 Mercedes Roadster, a 1956 Plymouth and a 1964 Ford Mustang.
The oldest car in the stable was an olive green Austin from 1926. The owner, Awini Ambu, said that the 1926 Austin was originally registered in undivided Bihar and was imported and owned by the head of the technical college in Ranchi. It later ended up in the south.
Ambu said that his father purchased the car in the 1960s while holidaying in Nilgiris and drove it all the way up north. The car had been part of early rallies organised by The Statesman.
Among the vintage bikes was a 98cc Parachute from 1942 and a 500cc Swift Hand-Gear from 1908.
Vintage car lovers from across New Delhi and beyond were seen enthusiastically enquire about the cars and their history from the owners. In turn, not only the owners gladly responded to the flood of queries but also showed them the inside of the vehicles.
The car owners were seen exchanging inputs about upkeep of vintage cars and information on the vehicles.
Some of the owners said they were eagerly looking forward to the rally as it would give them a unique opportunity to drive their well-maintained machines on the city’s main roads.
Welcoming the guests at the event, Ravindra Kumar, Editor of The Statesman, said, “I am so happy and delighted to have this first such get together that the club has organised. For years we have toyed with the idea of having an event other than the rally as part of the rally calendar. It is very gratifying to see the presence of so many cars and especially their owners.”
Kumar touched an emotional chord with the guests assembled at Statesman House when he said that the cars and their owners “have almost a sentimental attachment (with the venue) going back more than 50 years”.
Expressing hope for more such events, Kumar said display of vintage cars at a single venue rather than rallies could be the future because of existing road conditions and traffic travails.
Members of the jury, who would rate the vintage cars and bikes, were felicitated on the occasion.
The 53rd Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally, which is organised by the Vintage Car Club of India (VCCI) along with The Statesman, will be held on 10 February 2019. In the event held last year, cars made around 80 years ago were part of the rally.
About 50 awards were bestowed under four sections. Vintage sections had cars manufactured upto 31 December 1939 as eligible entrants, while in another section Classic cars above 1500 CC and manufactured between 1945 and 1962 were eligible.
A brief history
Conceived by Peter Moore, a professor of IIT-Delhi who also worked with The Statesman as a special morning correspondent, vintage car rallies have been a regular feature since 1964.
Moore, who passed away in 1999, inspired the founding of the Vintage Car Club of India (VCCI) in 1964 with an aim to procure and restore vintage cars and conserve them for future.
Though vintage car rally has been an annual event since 1964, this is the first time that Vintage & Classic Car Show has been organised by the VCCI.