Vintage, classic car rally begins

Published November 22, 2015
Karim Chhapra waves before getting on the road in his 1929 Hupmobile.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Karim Chhapra waves before getting on the road in his 1929 Hupmobile.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The early winter sun gave vintage and classic cars an extra gleam, as they were lined up at a petrol pump near Karsaz on Sharea Faisal on Saturday afternoon to take part in the sixth annual classic and vintage car rally.

Organised by the Vintage and Classic Cars Club of Pakistan (VCCCP), the 2015 rally included classic cars dating back to the early 1940s such as Alfa Romeo, Ford Mustang, Mercedes 108s, MGB and MG Midget, Rolls-Royce, Austin-Healey and Austin Mini, Ford Mustang and Ford Thunderbird.

All heading to Peshawar would be crossing the country via Hyderabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan, Lahore, Islamabad and Bhurban. They are scheduled to reach their final destination, Peshawar, on Dec 4.

According to Mohsin Ikram, founder and president of the Vintage and Classic Car Club of Pakistan, there are 15 cars going by road from Karachi while another 20 will be taken on car carriers to Lahore from where they, too, will join the rally by road. “It gets more exciting from Lahore where 20 to 30 more classic cars join in and suddenly we are over 65 or 70,” he said.

Ikram was himself driving a 1967 Austin Mini with Punjab registration plates. “Well, the car was bought from Lahore,” he shared while explaining the plates.

His son, Ahsan Ikram, was in a 1982 Chevrolet Corvette. “It is no ordinary Chevy. It is a collectors’ edition. Only 5,700 of these have been made in the world,” the young man shared about his pride and joy.

Meanwhile, another young man, Talha Chhapra, whose father, well-known vintage car collector Karim Chhapra, who also happens to be VCCCP’s director, stood solemnly next to his beautiful red Ford Mustang. Talha missed the rally two years ago due to his exams and this year again because of his final MBA exams. “My boy may miss the rally again this year, but that doesn’t mean that the car should not be a part of it. So I am taking my son’s Mustang along with my 1929 Hupmobile and my MGA Roadster with me. I have two trusted drivers coming along, too, with whom I’ll keep exchanging the cars, driving them in turns,” he laughed like a villain in his son’s face.

Another proud car owner there for support but not to be a part of the rally was Moin Abbasi getting his Ford Thunderbird jump-started. “What do you do? The battery fails you when your car is kept parked in the garage unused for six months,” he said. Asked if he was not joining the rally due to issues with its battery, he shook his head to explain that his aunt was hospitalised and he needed to be at her side.

But among the ones taking on the challenge were two good friends Captain Mansoorul Islam and Khalid Aslam, driving their 1950 MG TD replica. “Yes, ‘replica’ is correct. This is not an original but a replica we built part by part as a hobby over the weekends,” Shahid Aslam informed about their car with a fibreglass body.

“It took us three years to build this car and today you can’t tell whether it is an original or a fabricated one,” said his friend Capt Islam.

The friends were all set for the journey ahead. “We had several 100km trial runs to check for teething problems as these cars don’t get driven so often on Karachi roads for obvious reasons. Anyway, everything seems to be in order,” Capt Islam was happy to report.

Asked if it would have been easier for them to buy a real classic car instead of building a replica, Capt Islam said they were both working on restoring an original Rolls-Royce 1938. “But you also need to understand that we can’t really acquire old cars from abroad after the restriction on importing cars no older than three years in Pakistan for whatever commercial reasons. Those making such rules should also consider us vintage and classic car collectors. We are not into this for business gains, we are hobbyists,” he explained.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2015

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