Want to restore your old car? Check out this book by Cartist

Himanshu Jangid’s coffee table book, The Art of Restoration, documents the process of salvaging vintage cars

Published - June 14, 2023 04:46 pm IST

Mercedes 220 Pullman 1934

Mercedes 220 Pullman 1934 | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Cadillac 1954 Fleetwood Sixty Special and Ambassador 1969 Mark II may not have the speed of the SUVs of today but are in a league of their own — one that goes beyond numbers and scores heavily on nostalgia. Founder of Cartist, a platform for automobile art and car restoration, Himanshu Jangid’s coffee table book, The Art of Restoration, is about salvaging these four-wheeled marvels from the ravages of time.It will be launched soon.

Himanshu Jangid

Himanshu Jangid | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“The idea of writing the book came during the pandemic in 2020 when I was penning down stories, about the cars we restored, on social media. People wanted to know more about the process of restoration,” says Himanshu, who has been reviving vintage cars in Jaipur for 15 years with his father. He continues, “Accidentally, we designed and helped publish a limited-edition book, Under the Mask, in 2022 for Himmat Shah, an artist friend who is a well-known face in the art world. This helped us start this project, The Art of Restoration, after which the book has been named, and document the process of car restoration in India in the form of a coffee table book.”

Ambassador Mark II before restoration

Ambassador Mark II before restoration | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The book’s contents are divvied up in five parts — Planning, Body Panel, Mechanicals, Upholstery, and Paint and Finish — and promises to take gearheads on a guided tour to restore their cars in their garage. “It will also feature cars we restored in the past and automobile art by contemporary artists across India. It documents the story and the restoration process of Cadillac 1954 Fleetwood and Ambassador 1969 Mark II for the last six months,” says Himanshu, who claims to have restored more than 100 cars in Jaipur, from Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari and Jaguar to the many models of Mercedes. “My father and Iused to work on imported cars. One day, a customer asked if we could restore his 1928 Ford Model A. It started from there and we fell in love with old machines and cars. We have restored many cars from India for industrial houses and royal families,” he shares.

Ambassador Mark II being restored

Ambassador Mark II being restored | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Translating his memories and experience in words, Himanshu has packed a bouquet of stories on the restorations he has done so far. He drops an anecdote, off the cuff, sharing a story of Mercedes 290 Pullman which has made it to the book. The exclusive car from 1936 had first arrived at Himanshu’s in pictures and when its owner asked him for his opinion, Himanshu was startled. He remembers asking him where the car was in the picture. “It was just a chassis of an old car, but it looked like a pre-war Mercedes. It was a tough call to renovate it. But we had two 290 Mercedes at my workplace already. Hence, we got the courage to take it up,” he recollects. The complete chassis with the engine mounted on it with a broken grille and back with iconic star carrier arrived at Himanshu’s workshop. “We completely fabricated the body. It took us a year to start metal and woodwork after completing the running chassis, and another six months to paint it in black. Then, we constructed the interiors, and chrome and fittings,” he says.

Mercedes 220 Pullman 1934--Pic

Mercedes 220 Pullman 1934--Pic | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Ambassador 1969 Mark II Car, originally registered in Jaipur, hasa celebrity status and Cartist is the fourth owner for the car now. “Earlier it has been used in many Bollywood movies and also in Hollywood movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I was offered this car during the lockdown by a friend,” says Himanshu. He shares that he had never restored an Ambassador in the past and had bought this one to make it his everyday runner car post lockdown. “It stayed in the garage for two years before we started The Art of Restoration project in 2022 and it was completely restored. We showcased it at the recently-held Autoexpo 2023,” he informs.

 Artists like Raghu Rai, Himmat Shah, Durga Kainthola, Vijay Sharma, Hemavatty Guha, Paul Ferendous and Zakir Hussain have contributed to the project. “We invited Nitasha Jaini of Delhi, Sant Kumar from Ganganagar, Trith Patel from Ahmedabad, Shrikant Ranga from Bikaner and Jaipur’s Manvendra Singh for an art residency, from July to December, where they have created artistic impressions on the Ambassador and Cadillac,” says Himanshu. 

Durga Kainthola Artwork

Durga Kainthola Artwork | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The book also features furniture, including centre tables and chairs, made from the spare parts of cars — a recycling initiative that Cartist has been exploring for a little over a year now.

The book will be available on cartist.in for ₹3,500, only on pre-order.

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