In Akkarai, on the outer fringes of Chennai, a 1946 Chevrolet Fleetmaster sputtered and came to a grinding halt.
The giant of a machine was slowly pushed off the road. But minutes later, the Fleetmaster zipped past onlookers at the Kanagachettikulam arch, the entry point to Puducherry.
This was the defining moment of the The Hindu Pondy-Chennai Heritage Rally 2013, a two-day event that concludes on Sunday.
Coping with fuming engines, flat tyres and ignition trouble, members of Madras Heritage Motoring Club (MHMC) brought over 40 cars, and a small number of motorcycles, to Puducherry.
The event was flagged off by V.N. Devadoss, chairman of VGN Group, at Elliot’s Beach on Saturday morning and a floating crowd of nearly 5,000 witnessed the spectacle.
In the later half of the day, vintage vehicles from Puducherry rubbed fenders with their counterparts from Chennai at Gandhi Beach in Puducherry. A team of brothers — Byron Salamon, Byron Jean Michel, Byran Henry Izaac and Byron Alexander — dominate the hobby, accounting for over 90 percent of the vintage and classic machines in the Union Territory.
The men inherited their love for vintage vehicles from their father, Byron Aroquianadin, who started it all when he brought home a Citroen in 1951. Guided by a blind passion for vintage and classic machines, the boys learnt to restore the vehicles.
Byron Salamon and Byron Jean Michel, further excelled at the job after working on military tanks during their stint in the French Army.
Says Michel, “I was posted at Rastatte, and worked on the tanks AMX-13, AMX-10 and AMX-30. Salamon, who served in Altkirch, worked on EBR (an armoured car designed by Panhard).”