A drive down memory lane: Meet the owners of these beautiful vintage cars

These beautiful vintage cars are a statement in themselves. Meet the car aficionados from Chandigarh: 

Updated: Apr 21, 2018 14:07:06

By Parina Sood

This hotelier owns the car once driven by the man who wrote Vande Matram. 

From Aston Martins to Citroens, these men surely have the hottest wheels in town:

Manmohan Singh, 62, CEO, Aroma hotel

He’s the proud owner of three vintage cars, two Aston Martins and a Morris Minor.

Morris Minor, 1951 model: This vintage beauty once belonged to the legendary Bengali writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who gave India its national song Vande Mataram. The Morris Oxford make, exchanged many hands through the years before finding a home in Chandigarh. Considered a classic example of automotive design, this 1951 model was procured by Manmohan Singh in the year 2012 from a car aficionado in Haryana.

“The legacy of this car is more valuable than the car itself. We bought it as it was once driven by BC Chattopadhyay”, says Singh. This car will soon find a place in his upcoming hospitality project in Greater Mohali.

Aston Martin, 1949 model: This beautiful sedan found its way to Chandigarh from Bhopal in 2003. It is currently stationed at the Aquamarine Hotel, Sector 22. Singh is planning a ‘Vintage style street walk cafe’ with this white beauty as its focal point.

Aston Martin, 1935 model: This yellow wonder is an Aston Open that Singh got from Solan in 2003. This car also featured in a documentary made on Dr M S Randhawa, chief commissioner of Chandigarh from 1966 to 1968. Currently, it is parked at Hotel Aroma, Sector 22.

Singh on his cars: I am not fond of driving these cars, but they make for wonderful talking points for our customers. We have purchased them with a pure business objective as they enhance the look of the place and help in increasing the footfall. They are a way better investment than over-expensive interiors.

These cars are a statement in themselves and evoke an array of emotions and memories in our patrons. Other owners of such cars generally keep these assets locked in garages.

We keep them out in the open, accessible to our customers, who often get themselves clicked with these vintage beauties. This in turn gives us a sense of accomplishment.

Maintenance: If you own a vintage car, you need to care for them like a pet.

Brig J.S. Phoolka (retd), 81, founder president, Vintage and Classic Car Club, Chandigarh

This former army officer, who founded the vintage car club in 1995, says these cars are an important part of our heritage.

Brig JS Phoolka (retd), who is a proud owner of two vintage cars, says he was passionate about these cars since the beginning. “I founded this club with the aim of preserving old cars that form an important part of our heritage.”

The Vintage and Classic Car Club, Chandigarh came into being around 1995. With 20 car aficionados as members of this club, it boasts of some 40-50 vintage cars, 30 of which cars are in perfect running condition.

The club actively participates in various competitions and organises many events. “In 2003, when the Kalka-Shimla railway line turned 100, we organised a car rally between Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla. Around 45 vintage cars participated in that rally and for the first time in 100 years, cars were displayed on the Ridge in Shimla.”

A Ford Tuorer: This open canvas top model was manufactured in 1932. Painted in yellow and blue, this flamboyant 4-door wonder attracts many eyeballs. It was imported by the Nawab of Bareilly in 1932, and Phoolka is the fourth owner of this car.

A Morris, Hindustan 14: This 1952 beauty has a 4-door sedan body type, and Phoolka often takes it out for a spin.

Maintenance: “It is very difficult to arrange for spare parts of these cars. We have a Hispano Suiza, 1930’s model. It’s a class car that once belonged to the Maharaja of Kapurthala. The hunt is on to find a few spare parts for it. We are now looking for them in European markets.”

B.S. Manco, 75, Founder Secretary General, Vintage and Classic Car Club, Chandigarh

Manco says maintenance is difficult as most mechanis familiar with these cars are dead.

Manco owns one vintage car and five classic cars.

A Citroen, 1938 model: This French vintage car is unique with its front gear box, which is followed by the engine and then the front wheel drive. It was once owned by the Maharaja of Indore. Manco, the fourth owner, got it from Solan in 1984. “It’s a one of its kind car in entire North India.”

Manco also owns a mini fleet of classic cars, which include a Chevrolet Biscyane (1960 model), a Chevrolet Fleetmaster (1948 model), Aston A 140 (a two-door saloon of 1948 make), a Volkswagen Beetle (1971 model) and a Mercedes Benz, 190 C (1962 make). The Benz has been regularly winning laurels at the Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally for the past four years.

Maintenance: Manco says the biggest hurdle in maintaining these cars is finding trained and learned manpower. “Most of the mechanics who know how to handle and repair such cars aren’t alive anymore.”

First Published: Apr 21, 2018 14:05:30


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