It’s that time of the year again. Delhi’s vintage car aficionados and owners are gearing up for the 54th edition of The Statesman Vintage & Classic Car Rally, India’s oldest and most prestigious car rally, that features some of the most stunning automobiles ever manufactured.

On Sunday, Delhiites will witness an array of vintage and classic cars travelling through the main streets of the national capital region. Like every year, the golden oldies old cars will line up at Statesman House, Barakhamba Road, on the morning of 23 February where the Chief Guest, Chairman NDMC, Mr Dharmendra, will flag off the rally at 9 am and traverse through a pre-selected route culminating at the Dhyanchand National Stadium.

The rally will take a 42-km route from The Statesman House, crossing Delhi and passing through a belt of Noida, traversing down KG Marg, India Gate, Mathura Road, Nizamuddin Ring Road, Noida Link Road, Greater Noida Expressway, and turning back from Amity University to reach Major Dhyanchand National Stadium at India Gate via Purana Qila road.

The 1914 John Morris fire engine, originally belonging to the Nizam of Hyderabad and now, owned by the Rail Museum, will remain the centre of attraction. It would be the first vehicle to flagged off as usual. The vehicles will be rolled out in order of age, with the oldest cars flagged off first to be followed by their younger counterparts along with a band that will play melodious tunes.

About 55 awards will be given in categories such as Most Elegant Car and Best Overall Performance, etc. under four sections. Vintage sections have cars manufactured up to 31 December 1939, while Classic section has beauties from 1940-56. The post-war section will see cars above 1500 cc and manufactured between 1945 and 1962, while another section “Others and 50 Plus” will showcase cars manufactured between 1940 and 62.

The Statesman Challenge Trophy, the CR Irani Memorial Trophy, and the JMAI Trophy are among the prestigious trophies to be presented.

Vinod Gupta, a spokesperson for the event, said: “This year, more than 100 vehicles are participating in the rally. Of the cars that are likely to take part in the rally, 48 entries would be from vintage, 18 from the classic section and 18 belong to post-war section, 34 in Other & 50+ section, led by a 1914 John Morris Fire Engine owned by the Rail Museum. Apart from this, we also have 8 women participants.”

He added: “This vintage car rally is very popular among the younger generation as we are having about 23 first-timers to participate and its popularity can be judged by the fact that we have participants from outside the city also showing their vehicles.”

Among the participants, this time are Ford-1933 owned by Sanjay Pathak and Fiat1960 by Sunil Sahai. The owners are travelling as far as Bhopal and Moradabad respectively, for the journey. Besides, Kashif Siddiqui with Mercedes 1968 and Nisha Khan with 1600 cc Willys1951 are coming from Rampur Distt, UP.

The pre-judging of the participating vehicles to check their road-worthiness and originality among other parameters began on 21 February and continued till 4 pm 22 February at Modern School, Barakhamba Road. In the prejudging session, vehicles were evaluated on the basis of age, originality, and maintenance by a team of experts, informed Neeraj.

“A panel of eight distinguished judges comprised of  Jitender Pandit, Rakesh Jain, Gyan Sharma, Appa Saheb Allur, Pramod Bhasin, Ashwini Kathpalia, Aniruddha Mitra, and Indermeet Singh (Marshal) will inspect the vehicles. There are 10 parameters on the basis of which the cars participating in this rally are prejudged, which include chassis, engine, mechanical, restoration, authenticity, originality, interior, exterior, instruments, and tyres,” he added.

Last year, among the notable prize winners, was a Citroen 1920 that bagged the Indian Oil Trophy for the oldest vehicle (pre-1940) on the show at the rally.

A Rolls Royce 1937 won the CR Irani Memorial Trophy for the ‘Queen of the Rally’. Another Rolls Royce 1936 won the Golden Jubilee trophy for the most outstanding Rolls Royce/ Bentley participating in the rally.

Manik Singh, the owner of a 1938 Packard, bagged the NBCC Trophy for the most outstanding American car completing the course. A Hillman 1936 owned by SS Kharagwal got the JK trophy for the best car entering this rally for the first time after restoration.

In the afternoon, a prize distribution function will be held at the National Stadium. Prizes in different categories will be given to their winners by Vice-Chairman DDA Shri Tarun Kapoor.