They may be old, but they’ve still got the looks

Vintage cars and their drivers rally to earn a place in the country’s heritage.


Samia Saleem November 06, 2010

KARACHI: What’s sleek, purrs and inspires stares from people on the streets? Fourteen vintage cars. And all of them left Karachi on Friday to rally across the country to validate their place in Pakistani heritage.

The cars and their drivers left for Islamabad - will be passing through Sukkur, Bahawalpur and Lahore - in order to create awareness that vintage cars are as much a part of the country’s heritage as its colonial buildings.

The rally was organised by members of the Vintage and Classic Cars Club Pakistan (VCCCP).  Started by Mohsin Ikram — a vintage car enthusiast — in 1984, the club gained momentum after 2004 when a number of vintage car collectors joined the club.

With 100 members and 150 vintage cars to boast, the club decided to hold an inter-city rally - the first of its kind - between November 5 and November 10. While previously, car clubs would organise events within the city on national holidays (August 14 and March 23), this rally was aimed at creating awareness at a national level.

The event came as a surprise for many foreigners as well, “who thought the country is all about mud houses and donkey carts only”, said Ikram, who has been collecting vintage cars since the ‘80s.

Ikram, who drives his vintage cars at all occasions, believes in enjoying his prized possessions rather than keeping them safe behind closed doors.

“It is the one thing that brings a smile to everyone’s faces,” he said, recalling, “I have seen guys in exotic cars rolling down their windows and giving me a thumbs-up while rickshaw and bus drivers wave at me and kids point and smile at me.”

The owner of eight vintage cars, Ikram considers himself lucky to have bought some cars for as little as Rs25,000 while others have had to pay millions for similar cars. Ikram’s 1952 Citroen is the only car of its kind in Pakistan. He bought it from its previous owner. According to Ikram, the Citroen “is a French icon in engineering”.

Other cars that stand out among his private collection are a Fiat 500, a Lexion Continental and a Volkswagen. According to Ikram, the oldest known car in the country is a 1904 Rover, which was in pieces when he last saw it. He has no idea of its current whereabouts though. Meanwhile, the oldest car in the club is a 1919 Ford Model T.

“Maintaining these cars is a duty which requires a lot of time and money,” said Ikram. “There are no parts available while no mechanics and no workshops exist for their servicing,” he said, adding that the proud owners are responsible for preserving the machines themselves and often spend days on the maintenance of these cars.

“While many of us drive, the feeling of the wind blowing in your hair, the sound of the engine roaring in your ears, the old school technology and the nostalgia hits you only with vintage cars,” said Dewan Adil, a vintage car collector who holds his 1958 MGA as dear as a family member. Adil has had to import parts from the UK and the US to keep the car that is his pride and joy in running order.

For Karim Chhapra, who is the proud owner of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Rolls Royce, the uniqueness factor is what attracts him to vintage cars. “While many men may keep the latest sports and luxury cars, vintage is just one in millions, never to be produced again,” he said, adding that vintage cars can be seen in a range of bold colours that were explored only during the era they were manufactured in.

Salim Ayoob’s 1982 Mercedes 280 SLC — a sleek golden machine which is also taking part in the rally — is truly reminiscent of the 1980s glamour. With his collection of seven cars, which include classics as well as sports cars, Ayoob reflected that while the latter may provide an adrenaline rush through speed, love for vintage cars runs deep among those who have a passion for quality and class.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2010.

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