Rallying In The Present To Preserve The Past

Updated: Jan 26 2003, 05:30am hrs
Last Sunday saw the culmination of the The Great Heritage Motoring Rally, 2003, which covered the distance from Delhi to Jaipur and back. Organised by the Heritage Motoring Club of India (HMCI), the rally saw 26 participants in vintage and classic cars vying for the top honours. Braving the chill and fog of Delhi, the rally was flagged off from Hotel Le Meridien on Friday. A day prior to that, the cars were scrutinised and judged at the Oberoi.

HMCI president K C Anand said the rally brought together people who loved vintage and classic cars. We saw a lot of cars were disappearing into junk yards. We wanted to maintain these as valuable assets, Mr Anand said.

HMCI has also been working towards providing alternatives to solve the problems faced by old car owners and also in restoration, he added. In fact, HMCI has been planning to set up a museum for old cars in Delhi very soon, he said.

The rally sponsored by Purolator saw such old-time beauties as Rolls Royces, Mercedes Benzes, Lagondas, Minervas, Jaguars, Bentleys, MGs, Triumphs, Cadillacs, Austins, Buicks, Packards, Chevrolets, Fords, Dodges, Plymouths, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, Chryslers and more.

The participants were upbeat about driving cars of a bygone era. Said one of the women participants, Anju Gupta, who drove a Chevrolet Deluxe, You know, these cars are very heavy, not like your new, modern cars. But it is great fun driving them. As they move slow at times, people shout, If you cant drive them fast, why take them on the road, but they dont realise what kicks one can get driving them.

What has been impressive is the way old cars have been maintained by their respective owners. Said Diljeet Titus, who drove a Chevrolet Belair in the rally, I have about three full-time mechanics who look after my cars. Not only the maintenance, but the restoration is also important to maintain the original looks of the car, he added.

The brand new looking old cars made the trying journey in winter weather in great style. Some participants were there for fun, for others, winning was as important as participation. Shomenath Roy Choudhary in his Jaguar emerged the winner of the rally. Ranjit Malik won the Car Of The Rally award for his 1927 Minerva. Tarun Thakral won the Best Maintained Car trophy for his 1946 Buick.