English actor Russell Brand chose to ride on a horse-driven carriage with his girlfriend Katty Perry before proposing to her during their recent visit to India.

One such wooden carriage, a vintage model has been retrieved from a garbage thrash site and displayed among other beauties at the ongoing Auto Expo in the capital.

Dumped as trash or forgotten in garages and backyards of royal villas, cars and bikes of yesteryear are getting a fresh lease of life by passionate motor enthusiasts who are restoring them.

“I was told about the carriage by a ‘kabadi walah’ in Gujarat and after seeing it my heart was set on acquiring it.

It is a very unusual bowtop wagon, of the French design, the kind that ladies used to travel in the early 19th century,” says owner Sandeep Khatri.

Opposite Khatri’s carriage stands the oldest car on display, a Fiat, 1500 CC four door Phaeton manufactured in 1920. It’s current owner H.W. Bhatnagar says he bought it from a Madhya Pradesh based businessman.

“The car was stored in a garage for almost 30 years when I first found it. That is how it has managed to survive the rot and could be exhibited. I plan to restore it to run on current road conditions by next year,” says Bhatnagar.

A BMW classic Isetta 300, known as the bubble car, was the cynosure of all eyes at the Auto Expo with Ratan Tata taking an interest in the car, that is even smaller that the recently launched Nano.

Ashok Kaicker who exhibited a 1953 Chevrolet Belair says the size and luxury of the convertible drew him.

“I was attracted to it because this was a very popular vehicle in the 1950’s in the US. Just look at the spacious rear seats, practically half of the population in America could say thanks to the Belair,” Kaicker says with a wink.

Seventeen bikes and scooters are on display with the oldest bike being a German NSU with a 350 cc engine made in 1904. Three lambrettas and an Enfield Custom Hobber are also on exhibit at the fair.

“One of our aims is to provide a perspective of how automobile engineering has evolved over the years. We have displayed over 60 vehicles at this expo,” says Diljeet Titus, General Secretary, Heritage Motoring Club of India.

Titus, a passionate collector himself, has 12 of his vehicles at the expo. These include a 1934 model Rolls Royce Kellner sedan and a seven passenger 1935 model Buick series 90 car


Vintage cars showcased at Delhi Auto ExpoJanuary 9, 2010