A drive down memory lane

Parth Khatau
The rally being flagged off from Bandra Kurla Complex, in Mumbai on Sunday. Pradip Das

As he prepared to drive his 1935 Bentley Drophead Coupe, businessman Jagdish Thackersey was making sure there were no last-minute hiccups. "I have not driven this car since she won the third prize at a rally at Pebble Beach, California," says Thackersey. "However, today is no ordinary day and I am honoured to bring my prized possession out on the streets for others to see and hopefully appreciate as it is indeed a very rare car," he adds.

His car was one of hundred vintage beauties that made the journey from BKC to Ballard Estate in south Mumbai. The show consisted of cars and bikes from various eras from the 20th century, many of which do not take to the road on a regular basis, as well as millennial supercars and superbikes.

The rally celebrated the centenary year of the Western India Automobile Association, the largest and oldest motoring body in India. Graham Stoker, Vice President of FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), industrialist and petrolhead Gautam Singhania, Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Jaiswal, Nitin Dossa, Chairman of the WIAA, and Viveck Goenka, President of WIAA, were present for the flag off.

While the cars are owners' pride, they are a challenge to maintain. Thackersey said he imports parts from England for his Bentley and even though it is not the easiest car to drive in Mumbai traffic, it is worth all the time, money and effort.

The supercars on the other hand are slightly less of a hassle to maintain and are usually found burning the tar in the pre-dawn hours for that is when they can perform to their full potential with few other vehicles on the road. When sometimes seen during the day, these cars are like a Rottweiler on a tight leash, clipping away at the heels of traffic, waiting to be put on an open stretch of tarmac.

Speaking to the gathering of enthusiasts and wide-eyed onlookers, Gautam Singhania stressed on the importance of road safety. He said, "It is really important that as drivers we know we have a certain responsibility as rash driving does not only put us in danger but also those around us."

Sunday was the concluding day of the road safety week which was observed across the country.

Singhania said Sunday's auto show was probably the first of its kind in India where cars and bikes from different eras had all been displayed together.

The oldest car at the rally was a 1903 Humber owned by 84-year-old architect Abbas Jasdanwalla who owns 43 vintage cars. "I am an avid collector of such vehicles as they transport me back in time," says Jasdanwalla. "I take great pride in restoring and running old vintage cars. Many of them lack safety features that today's cars enjoy such as airbags and anti-locking brakes and some do not even have seatbelts. However, the joy I feel when I drive these cars is unparalleled," he added.

Among the other cars that took to the road were a 1925 Rolls Royce, a Jaguar with a British-Racing green coat, a Chevrolet Impala and a 1919 Citro n which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary.