Classic design
AMG Penta alloy wheels look great on a Mercedes-Benz SEC.

Classic design

4th Feb 2018 7:00 am

Perseus expounds on the merits of keeping classic and vintage cars untouched and pure.


Most purists like vintage and classic cars because of the way they look and drive. They may not be
very fast or have crisp, taut dynamics like modern cars but come with an unadulterated mechanical driving experience that can best be described as rewarding.

To put it simply, I like cars that aren’t governed by nannies. No traction control, no anti-locking brakes and, of course, a manual transmission over any automatic that includes dual-clutch transmissions. However, living with such cars as daily drivers can have its limitations.

Anything that rolled off the showroom before the end of the last millennium will most likely have a MP3/CD player or USB reader missing, and asking for a Bluetooth telephone connection may be too much. Yet these features are retrofitted on most cars in use today. However, being obsessed with originality, I shy away from retrofitting any of my classic cars with a modern infotainment system or any accessory that isn’t from the period that the car was on sale. The idea being that every time you drive the car, it reminds you of a certain era gone by.

Even simple aids like parking sensors on an older car dampen the driving experience for me. Though safer, the risk involved in parking without aids makes it more exciting. Fitting a reversing camera would be sacrilege!

 To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, you see a lot of cars from the ‘70s and ‘80s fitted with modern design alloy wheel and wide, low profile tyres. Besides disadvantages like creating more drag and upsetting the handling because of wrong specification offsets and oversizing, even OEM equipment from a newer models – like an old SL with modern E-class wheel rims to me – is like a gentleman wearing a tweed suit with a pair of sneakers.

I recently saw a classic BMW E34 retrofitted with non-OEM HID headlamps. And even though I have no doubts of them being brighter, they sort of took away the charm of four halogen charged round lamps which is such a signature retro BMW feature.

That said I’ve come across some classics and sportscars with Haldas and navigational equipment to participate in historic motoring events and that’s okay.

Not to say I do not like retrofitted alloy wheels. Yes, wheel covers can be troublesome especially when they are nicked or get damaged. As surprising as it may sound, finding full wheel covers for older cars can be quite a challenge. Period-design AMG Penta and BBS wheels look great on older Mercedes and other European cars from that age. Even rubber spoilers that mimic old racers look pretty cool on retro models. However, for me, I prefer living with the limitations of original wheel covers, a tape receiver with FM tuner instead of iPod connectivity, and good old halogen lamps!


Perseus Bandrawalla

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A car nut and motoring enthusiast who loves anything with a motor fitted to it. He is known for his obsession with modern classic automobiles and has extensive experience in all things automotive including running a motorsport team and curating automobile events.

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