Tracking two decades of Auto Expo

8th Jan 2016 12:50 pm

Nikhil Bhatia was six years old when he witnessed his first Auto Expo in 1993. He hasn't missed any since. Here are notes from his diary.

The 2016 Auto Expo is around the corner and I’m really excited. I’ve been to every Auto Expo since the second one in 1993 (I wasn’t born when the inaugural one was held in 1986!) and even after all these years, it’s still a big, big event for a car nut like me.
 
I don’t remember much from my early years, but memories of Auto Expo 1993 are still vivid. It was my first ever ‘car event’ as such and the sight of just about every model (few as there were) gave my six-year-old self immense joy. Heck, I still remember being bowled over by a Tata van concept solely because it had a table between the second and third rows! But the standout models were a Suzuki Cappuccino cabriolet at the Maruti display and a Porsche 911. Yup, a 911. Incredible as it sounds, Porsche had a two car display at the 1993 Auto Expo. I was in love!
 
The 1996 Auto Expo was no less special. The Fiat Coupe, Maserati Quattroporte, Jaguar XJ and the Audi A4 were among the cars in attendance and just the sight of them made my day. These cars obviously were not for sale but I could only hope the attractive SUV at the Tata stand would someday be available in the market. It was the Safari…
 
I’m happy I got my first camera in time for Auto Expo 1998 because there was some serious eye candy to be captured on roll. The original Merc A-Class, Ford GT90, a proper McLaren F1 car and one of my all-time favourites, the Ferrari F355 (thank you Fiat!), were all on display – all in Delhi! Of the other memories from the 1998 event, one was of making my way through the massive crowds to get a glimpse of Tata’s new small car – the Indica. No easy task, I can tell you that.
 
By 2000, I considered myself an Expo regular and a petrolhead. The car that got my heart racing at the show was a… wait for it… a Tata! Tata showed the Aria (nothing to do with the crossover) convertible concept and it looked smoking hot. I know it’s too late in the day to get Tata to reconsider the project but I’d love to see something like it on our roads.
 
As the years rolled and the Expo got bigger, so did the list of stars. Concepts (including some mad ones from DC Design), supercars, superbikes… the Expo got them all. And that’s what keeps me going back to the Auto Expo. It’s the chance to see manufacturers and the industry at large put its best wheels forward.
 
So, if you have more than a passing interest in cars or bikes, as I assume you do, I think you need to make a trip to the India Expo Mart at Greater Noida between February 5-9, 2016. I can promise you a good show.

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