They stood gleaming under the shade of trees, with the proud owners by their side. Standing in majestic grace were the Austins, Fiats, Willys, Morris, Triumphs, Nortons, BSAs and Jawas, to name a few; all spruced up for an event that was meant to attract motor enthusiasts like sweets draw ants.
Not surprisingly, the vintage car and motorcycle rally organised by Deccan Heritage Automobile Association (DHAA) at Lumbini Park here on the eve of Independence Day drew car and motorcycle aficionados in hordes.
Some of these automobiles dated back to an era when doors, both resting on a single hinge, opened in the reverse; fuel tanks had to be literally secured under lock and key and windows were cranked open by steel handles. Some still sported the registration numbers of the princely states where they had their origins.
The motorcycles came from an era when headlights balanced themselves on the bar handles. Mirza Ali Raza Ameeni's 500cc military BSA motorcycle (1942), for example, runs on petrol, diesel or even kerosene.
“My favourite is the Austin7, which was a sports car in those days. This was named Austin7 because it was available in seven colours,” said Sai Koushik, an 11-year-old car buff. The car, which belonged to the Nizams, has to be started by rotating a lever clockwise on the engine, he explained.
“This has been restored using the power of the internet,” said a proud Sarwat Hussain about his 1947 Sunbeam Talbot. Accompanying him was Taco Kamstra, vice president, Pretoria Old Motors Club, the largest and oldest motor club in the African continent. “This year happens to be 150 years since the first Indians went to South Africa. He is here as a gesture of goodwill,” said Mr. Hussain.
The show-stealer was a silver and ivory-white 1915 Wolseley Golfers' Coupe, which was specially made for the Maharaja of Bhagalpur.
“This has been completely restored here in Hyderabad. This can run at a speed of 40 to 50 kmph,” said Ram Prakash Agarwal, the convertible's current owner. “This is the only Studebaker Commander in the country,” claimed Rohit Mawle, whose grandfather purchased the car in the year of independence.
Small but beautiful
Standing amidst these imposing machines was a Lilliput turquoise Fiat 600 that could have been easily mistaken for a toy car. “This has been lying in the garage for the past 12 years. I had to persuade my father to bring it to this rally,” its owner Sonu said.