In Delhi, winter afternoons on Sundays are looked forward to by most citizens as it is the best time to be out and about the city. While picnicking in the city’s various gardens or visiting its historical monuments is the norm, this Sunday the citizens had a special treat in store for them.
The Department of Transport, GNCTD, in association with the HMCI- Heritage Motoring Club of India organised a vintage car drive that saw over 50 cars and 23 vintage two-wheelers take to the roads of Lutyens Delhi. Flagged off by Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, V.K. Saxena from Major Dhyanchand Stadium, near India Gate, the beautiful cavalcade drove to Delhi Gymkhana Club, near the Prime Minister’s residence.
On display in all their glory were several Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Cadillacs and Mustangs, among others. The oldest car was a 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom I, while one of the ‘youngest’ was a 1965 Cadillac in a beautiful mauve shade. Owned by Gurgaon-based construction entrepreneur Parmeet Bhalla, the Cadillac was imported into India by the Embassy of Cambodia in 1965, since then it changed hands a few times before Bhalla purchased it in 2009.
“I have always been fascinated with vintage cars, especially the Cadillac. This was in a bad shape when I acquired it. I had to restore it completely. Now you can order parts on Amazon globally and have them shipped to India so it is easier to restore vintage cars as compared to previously,” explained Bhalla.
Another beauty was a 1939 Rolls Royce owned by Gurgaon-based Harsh Wardhan Bhatnagar who retired from BHEL in 2005. The car was imported from the US and completely restored by Bhatnagar who is passionate about vintage cars, having 35 of them at one point in time. Today he has four of them but only one participated in the rally.
There was a 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II owned by Gautam Singhania, managing director of the Raymond Group.
While IT entrepreneur, Anil Malhotra’s 1934 Buick was not a part of the rally, he had it present at Delhi Gymkhana Club and it attracted a lot of attention from visitors as it had a board saying ‘Pataudi’ placed at the back of the car, just above the number plate. The car that belonged to Mansoor Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi was gifted by him to Malhotra around 15 years ago.
All these beautiful cars are expensive to maintain but they still have a lot of life left in them and with good care can be operational for several years more. However, except for certain specific rally days, these cars are not allowed on Delhi roads generally, making it difficult for owners to keep them in motorable condition. “Thankfully, Gurgaon doesn’t have the same rules and I take my Cadillac for a spin every Sunday,” said Bhalla.
The rally called Vintage For Life was to mark India’s presidency of the G20 summit.