Here’s where to look for inspiration to get an old decrepit car off its haunches and out on the road
Holding on to an old Maruti 800 that has not seen a road for seven years, I perfectly understand people who cannot let go of their cars, even those that have become rust buckets.
For everybody else, this car, around 20 years old, is absolute junk and I am often advised to have it scrapped. Our tenant offered to find me a scrap dealer. A relative — if you are looking for accuracy, my wife — offered to find me a shrink.
Besides the obvious emotional investment in the car, a desire to see it restored patiently, part by part (when I find the time for it) so that I learn what it takes to raise a machine from the ground-up, is the reason I still keep it, taking in my stride ridicule and scorn.
It helps to know I am not alone. Under the section ‘Submit Your Story’ at petrolicious.com, one finds accounts of car restorations, modifications and customisations submitted by owners, some of them keeping rust buckets under wraps until finding the time and resources to restore and display them to envious eyes. In line with the website’s policy, the majority of the cars fit into the 1950-1989 time range, with some bursting into the 1990s.
Anyone, amateur or professional, interested in sharing an account of a restoration or a modification of any of these cars is faced with a laundry list of rules, which involve answering first a raft of questions and then sending in high-resolution, aesthetically-shot photos together with the write-ups. The submitted stories are later tossed about in a sieve. An owner, who is enthusiastic about being featured, may not look favourably upon this elaborate process, which however is the best thing to happen to a car enthusiast visiting the website. Because, this process should ensure the most interesting cars make it, along with captivatingly shot photos of them. If not for anything else, one may visit the site just for its photography which often catches stunning cars and scenic locales together.
Another website for anyone looking for inspiration of the kind that forces him into the bonnet of his non-runner of a car is oldclassiccar.co.uk, which, contrary to what one would expect from its title, also includes restoration accounts of four-wheelers predating the classic era. The website also offers a forum where anything that moves on wheels is discussed. Put it down to my bias, I however found the section on classic car restorations to be the best part of it. The topics are slotted into sections named after marques, thereby aiding easy navigation for visitors to those that interest them. For example, discussions on any Austin model will figure under the section titled Austin.
The website of Antique automobile club of America (aaca.org) is a place to go for photos of the various models of American cars and helpful discussions about them. Much as I value these websites for their information and the way they present it, and for the interest in antique cars they stoke, I really do not need them to inspire me to get cracking on my Maruti 800.
While documenting people with cars that have survived time, I have come across meticulous restorations of machines much further in time and technology than mine. With the Maruti 800 — being phased out from April 2010 and going completely out of production in January 2014 — having hardly receded from our roads, let alone our memory, I cannot bracket my old car along with any of theirs, each of which serves as an inspiration.