14th May 2018 5:00 am
Perseus talks about the burgeoning vintage car movement in India.
Vintage and classic car shows in the country are getting better and more exciting. And it’s not just because of the cars, even judging standards are improving. There’s no doubt we’re slowly but surely approaching a time when our events will be just as good as the best held abroad. But while I enjoy most of these immensely, there are areas where I’d like to see things done a bit differently.
Let’s start with what are known as ‘trailer queens’. Yes, the standards of restoration today are right up there with anything you see in the world, but some of the best cars are barely driven on and off transporters. A car is not just a piece of bodywork, and I would really like to see all concours in India have a requisite course, where each of the competing cars are driven over a specific route. The cars that successfully complete these runs can be given extra points. At events like Pebble Beach, there’s the Tour d’Elegance, in which cars that complete a 50-odd-kilometre drive tip a win in case of a tie-breaker. This would encourage restorers and owners to ensure their cars are mechanically sound, too. Just seeing these cars in motion, their exhaust sounds and the smell of petrol burning would be an absolute treat. After all, cars are built to be driven, and, as I understand, most panel of judges at international concours allow mechanical add-ons like auxiliary fans (if fitted discreetly) and indicator lamps to make the cars safer and road-worthy.
Then there’s the Preservation Class cars; fast becoming popular at concours around the world. While I think some patina, a few light scratches, and wear and tear on seats are alright, I don’t think much of cars that are in a pathetic condition, rolled straight out of a barn. Ignored for years or decades and left to rot, these cars aren’t presentable.
Lastly, I’d like to see more Youngtimers and modern classic cars at vintage and classic car shows. Cars that are 20 years or older should be allowed to participate in the exhibition classes. Honestly, maintaining and restoring modern classics is often harder than vintages. They have primitive electronics and very basic sensors, and are often so temperamental to work on (especially older cars without OBD II ports); you need a lot of ingenuity to solve these problems. Also items like plastic trims can be extremely difficult to source and astronomically expensive. For example, getting interior trims for a 1980s Japanese or German sportscar is a nightmare, in contrast to replicating them or buying trims for a 1950s American classic car. This would encourage preserving such cars, which will become thoroughbred vintages and classics in the future! That, after all, is the real reason why these events are worth their weight in gold.