Kolkata-based vintage car aficionado Saikat Dutta takes more pride in the fact that he owns a rare UK-made “bubble-top” red ‘Triumph’ model than that the heritage four-wheeler once belonged to Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff.
In Delhi, vintage automobile collector Ashish Kochar commands an impressive fleet of period two-wheelers including one of the original US-made ‘Indian’ motorcycle, rare lambrettas and a Harley-Davidson tandem bicycle with a twin pair of handles, possibly the only existing such model in the country.
While for many people, it seem like a case of “boys and their toys” but for men like them heritage vehicles mean serious business and not just something to flaunt on street.
“I got this car (Triumph) from Bombay in the 80s. It was lying unkempt somewhere in a garage. I bought and got it restored. It is such a rare model, the vintage bubble-top model of the series, and for a car enthusiast like me, it’s priceless to own and drive something of that rare a pedigree,” Saikat told PTI.
The fully restored car is a real eye-turner, and he says, it becomes an instant favourite among people and shutterbugs alike at rallies.
“And, yes, the car once belonged to Jackie Shroff, so that’s an icing on the cake, I guess,” he said.
Explaining the ‘bubble-top’ design, he says, “it’s a tad different than a convertible. If one wants, one can remove the top and drive it like an open sports car or put the top on if one needs shade as a regular one. But, the feeling of driving it is out of this world. I feel like I am flying.”
Saikat’s ‘Triumph’ and Ashish’s red ‘Indian’ were among the over 220 period beauties that were recently paraded on a 52-km-long stretch from Delhi’s Red Fort to Gurgaon as part of the fifth edition of the ‘21 Gun Salute International Vintage Car Rally’, which also saw an unprecedented participation of erstwhile Indian royal families, traditionally the patrons of such cars.
The rally organised in association with city-based Heritage Motoring Club of India (HMCI) saw, among others, the 1886 ‘Motorwagen’, said to be the world’s first petrol-fuellled car, invented by German engineer Karl Friedrich Benz, of Mercedes-Benz fame, and it was “flown in from Malaysia” especially for the event.