Vintage cars that were once owned by maharajas of erstwhile princely States but were shipped out of the country may soon find their way back to Indian roads. For, the Union Commerce Ministry, which earlier eased restrictions on import of these beauties, is expected to clarify the customs duty regime next month.

The Ministry, in April, cleared the way for import of vintage cars that were manufactured before January 1, 1950.

Import of cars

“At present, the Indian government allows import of cars that are less than three years old attracting a customs duty of 110 per cent. We have sought a reduction in the duty and more clarity on import of vintage cars,” Ravi Prakash, secretary of Karnataka Vintage and Classic Car Club, told The Hindu. “We are expecting the duty rate to be between 20 and 30 per cent, which is likely to be announced next month,” he said.

Vintage car enthusiasts are thrilled at the move and have even started making enquiries with many auction houses in the West, said Dr. Prakash, whose collection exceeds 200.

Vintage cars that were shipped out of India, especially in the 1970s, could be seen back on Indian roads with the easing of restriction. Dr. Prakash said that hundreds of such cars went out of the country as demand increased in the West. “Many sold the cars at the prevailing market value in Europe and got good returns,” he said and added that most of these cars owned by the maharajas were now available in the U.S. and Europe.

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