These Punekars Know a Classic Way to Own Vintage Cars!
Vintage cars occupy a special place in the hearts of a few Punekars. From a 1948 Riley to a 1964 Mercedes, you name it and this motley group of vintage car collectors have them all.
Sahil Mandody, 30, used to watch his father visit factories abroad and import cars – which were then refurbished and auctioned. Ever since then, he was fuelled by a desire to own one. He started saving his pocket money in the hope that one day he would be able to buy his dream car. He also earned a few quick bucks by teaching golf.
So, when he saw a newspaper ad for the sale of a 1964 Mercedes Benz w110 200d, he was beyond excited. He wasted no time and dug into all his savings to buy the car. Sahil remembers that the car cost Rs. 5 lakh. Although he was a little short of money at the time, he managed to buy it with help from his dad.
That’s how Mandody's journey of collecting vintage cars began. Today, he owns four vintage and classic cars. “I look after these cars more than my life. I wash them and polish them, even personally taking care of the maintenance,” he beams.
And woe betide the lay observer who doubts Mandody’s love for his car! Before I can quiz him further, he is quick to show me the tattoo of his car on his forearm!
“My Kids Refer to it as the Grand Old Lady!”
Another Pune resident, Dr Alok Patel, is the proud owner of a 1984 W123 Mercedes 300D. When his friend told him about the car, it took him less than two hours to confirm the purchase.
Even though the car needed a lot of restoration, his family loves it. “My kids refer to it as the grand old lady, but a cool one at that!” Patel believes that the pleasure of owning a vintage car is particularly sublime since they have the ability to transport you to an era gone by.
“It was sheer coincidence and serendipity,” he laughs. He also tells me how, on his way to the classic car rally in Mumbai, he met a taxi driver who was once Feroz Khan’s driver and knew about Patel’s car.
“I was speechless. This was definitely the best coincidence of my life,” admits Patel.
The other car he owns is a vintage 1958 Baby Hindustan. “This was the first model of the car built by Hindustan Motors, a copy of the Morris Minor from England,” he adds.
Patel and his family love driving these cars because of the attention they get and the way the cars make a lot of heads turn. Because of the age of these cars, they cannot be driven fast, but Patel loves the stately pace at which they have to be driven. “It’s almost meditative,” he confesses.
Every once in a while, a rickshaw-walla or a pedestrian asks Patel what model his car is and he takes his time explaining.
A Piece of History
Manu Gulati, a restaurateur from Pune, is the proud owner of seven vintage cars.
His journey to owning a vintage car began when he saw a 1961 Mercedes Benz Ponton on his way to work. “It was love at first sight,” he confesses. Subsequently, he came across the car at his garage and asked the garage owner if the owner wished to sell it. The owner refused. Gulati was a little crestfallen but he left with the conviction that he would own the car someday.
As luck would have it, after three years, the garage owner called him up to ask if he was still interested. “The garage owner is a friend and some of my cars go to him for service,” says Gulati. So, after three years, when Gulati finally had the opportunity to buy the car, he dug into his reserves and bought the car, cash down.
Even today, he loves going for a ride with his family in his Ponton.
The car wasn't in great shape when Gulati bought it. “But restoring a car is the most exciting part of building a collection,” he says.
An Ex-Mayor’s Car
For Harshwardhan Apte, the decision to buy the 280 SEL Mercedes Benz (which belonged to the ex-mayor of Mumbai) was almost instantaneous. He got to know about the car through a friend of the ex-mayor.
The mayor, Mr Patkar, had just passed away and the car belonged to him. There was a lot of emotional value attached to it. Perhaps that was why his wife wasn’t ready to sell it. I would make several trips to Mumbai to meet the mayor’s wife and would come back most days, disappointed. But on my sixth trip, I came back home with the car!
The difficult process of acquisition might be why he prefers driving this 'old lady' – whether late at night or commuting to work.
And before he leaves, he offers me a ride. How could I say no?
(A freelance food and fashion blogger, Pranjali Bhonde Pethe aims at getting people and their favourite food and style closer through her blog moipalate. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on @moipalate.)