Mumbai: 1903 Humber, 1914 Stellite regale car lovers at vintage show

Cars exhibited at the show (Pradip Das)

A 1903 Humber, a yellow 1914 Stellite, a rare bright yellow 1936 Cord, a 1919 Minerva, and a 1911 Triumph are among the 200 vintage cars and bikes, all lovingly restored and maintained in top condition by their proud owners, on display at the Western Indian Automobile Association (WIAA) auto show being held to celebrate its centenary year.

With 400 vehicles on display in all, including 100 Super cars and Super bikes, the show at the MMRDA grounds in Bandra Kurla Complex, is the largest such event in India, the organisers said. The two-day exhibition will conclude with a Sunday morning road rally, in which all the displayed vehicles will be driven from BKC to Ballard Estate via Bandra Worli Sea Link and Marine Drive, to spread the message of road safety.

Nitin Dossa, the executive chairman of the WIAA, has eight vintage cars displayed in the show, among them the 1914 Stellite, which he said was among the rarest vintage cars - the British company making it stopped its production after the first World War, and they are extremely difficult to find. Dossa bought his in the US and restored it in India. Viveck Goenka, president of the WIAA, had 22 vintage cars displayed. His 1936 Cord and collection of "Piccolo Fiats" were the cynosure of all eyes.

A green 1946 Bristol (Pradip Das)

Describing his passion for vintage cars, Dossa described how he acquired a rare Hudson 1933, the only surviving model in the world - it is also on display - from an elderly Parsi woman. She had written to him asking him if he was interested to buy the car from her, but Dossa's wife had kept away the letter. "I found it a year later, and when I called her, she first scolded me for responding to her letter so late, and then asked me to reach her Bandra home in exactly one hour, warning me that she would not sell it if I was a minute late," Dossa recalled. It took him five years to restore the car.

Celebrating its centenary year along with the association was a 1919 Minerva. Owner Hemant Kumar Ruia said he had found the car in a totally decrepit state. The car had to be literally reconstructed, he said.

The star of the bikes section is the 1911 Triumph bike, the oldest in its section. The show also featured the oldest rider in the exhibition, 78-year-old Nashik resident, Ryasp Kothavala, whose 1956 BSA with its stylish "swinging" handlebar was on display too. Delighted to be the only woman owner in the vintage bike section, Sailee Bhiwankar, who is in the media business said, "I have two bikes in the exhibition. The yellow Vespa is special as it was owned by my grandmother and three generations have ridden it. I drove it from Mumbai to Pune and back, last year."

78-year-old Nashik resident Ryasp Kothavala, the oldest biker with his 1956 BSA. (Pradip Das)

The WIAA is the largest and oldest motoring body in India. It is recognised as India's major authority on motoring issues. It received over 1040 applications from owners of vintage cars and motorbikes, of which 200 - 100 cars, and 100 bikes - were selected.

"There are only two criteria for the selection. First, each of the vehicles we have selected is unique, there is no duplication. Also, the vehicles should be maintained in a good condition," said Dossa. He added the aim of the exhibition is "to ensure that future generations have the same sort of drive, that present-day collectors have".

The vintage cars section was pided into six categories - sports, utility or people's car, American cars from 50s and 60s, Rolls Royce and Bentley.