To be held at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai in Kalina on Sunday, March 19, the Modern Classic Rally is presented by Vredestein Tyres in association with Gulf Oil. The static display can be viewed from 8:30am and the cars will leave at around 10:30am for a parade that will stretch from Bandra over the Worli Sea Link, and back. There will be around 50 cars at the show, ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s. Here are five iconic Modern Classics you can get up close and personal with at this Sunday’s Rally.
1. Bentley Brooklands 2009
This is a car that still gives me a warm fuzzy glow. Leather lined, full of chrome, a fastback-like roof and, of course, the 6 and 3/4th litre V8. Just loved the looks back in the day and, if anything, the low-slung profile looks even better today – long bonnet, short front overhang, the low roofline and those steeply raked windscreens. The engine didn’t rev high, but it was creamy smooth and you felt like you were being nudged in the rear by a runaway locomotive once the torque came flooding in. How much torque? 1,050Nm. Yeah, the torquiest Crewe-built V8. And I just love the instrument panel and the interior theme, which is basically carried forward till today.
2. Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph
I remember writing about this car, but haven’t seen it in the flesh, ever. I quite liked the muscular lines, especially how the long bonnet seemed to flesh out from the tight headlight and Pantheon grille. And it had a V12 under the hood, the first one since the Phantom III in 1939. This engine came from BMW and was one of the nicest looking engines, dressed immaculately with uniformly distributed intake runners. It didn’t ‘waft’, however, or move forward effortlessly as every Roller should. The BMW 5.4 V12 needed to be revved past 3,900rpm to make any real power, and that meant no effortless thrust. The car is rare, however. Armament maker Vickers sold Rolls-Royce to BMW, and the latter got in the new Phantom soon after, so just 1,570 were built.
3. Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
Rolls called them doctor's coupes back in the day. Shorter wheelbase cars that it would sell to doctors on call so that they could get to their patients quicker, or some such. The Phantom Drophead Coupe, however, is very different. Probably the most indulgent form of personal transportation you can think of, it is a big, beefy land yacht and comes with that Phantom cliff nose up front and yacht-like wood panelling. As indulgent as you can imagine on the inside and built on a shorter wheelbase, this is a unique car. It also came with a V12, but this one was more appropriate and the Phantom as a result felt effortlessly rapid. Check out the unique design of the quarter glass and the manner in which Rolls designers made something so bulky ultimately look so elegant; especially in profile.
4. Aston Martin 71 DBS
Oh my god! I remember seeing this car for the first time on our roads and chasing it down, in a traffic jam. It just looked like it had landed from a different world. The front looks just menacing, like a hooded cobra ready to strike. I love the flying buttress rear, and the way the fastback rear has been so neatly integrated with the rest of the lines of the car. No two cars are the same as these cars were handmade. Early cars got the rasping 4.0 six-cylinder instead of a V8, and many had difficult to cure – at the time – fuel injection systems. Still, there are many solutions today and the car appears to be in fine nick. Looking forward to hearing the engine.
5. Citroen DS
They call her the Goddess, and that’s apt. So much technology, bold and incisive styling and it clearly is a car like no other. The DS in fact was so iconic, Citroen created a separate modern-day brand in its honour. But Rome (or Paris here) wasn’t built in a day, and the DS, apparently, over a decade to develop. It had so much new tech and so many firsts after all. It was the first mass-produced car with disc brakes and it came with all-independent suspension that used a hydro-pneumatic self-levelling system. The system is so unique, you don’t need a jack to change a tyre, the car just holds itself up. It’s also got power steering and a semi-automatic gearbox. Even the design of the interior is uniquely French and quirky.
Other cars I’ll be looking forward to seeing up close are the first Audi RS4, the one with the muscular V8 under the hood, a real military-spec Humvee or the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), there’s Ford’s square-rigged legend the F–150 pickup (what a design icon), an R33 Nissan GTR or the original Godzilla and an E39 BMW M5.