KARACHI: The Classic Car Show 2021 organised by the Heritage Motoring Club of Pakistan at Frere Hall lawns here on Sunday offered an opportunity to see more than 75 marvels of European and American automotive industry up close. There were different models of Rolls Royce, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Mercedes, MG, Ford, Fiat, Porsche and Volkswagen on display.
Each vehicle, the pride and joy of its current owner, had a story, happily shared by the owners. “You must see my 1965 Renault Dauphine. It’s parked right there,” Liaquat Malik, president of the Heritage Motoring Club, pointed out a little blue car parked in the middle of the display area with some other treasures. “The model was Pablo Picasso’s favourite,” he added. The car didn’t seem to have a very prominent bumper in the front until you realised that its engine was in the trunk where it had a bigger and sturdier fender.
A couple of Fiats, a 1947 Topolino, painted metallic orange and a bright red 1965 Fiat 500, looked cool. The Topolino couldn’t have rolled out of the factory with that colour but still it suited it very well.
On the other side stood the pride of every classic car show, the 1924 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost owned by Karim Chhapra. Near it was Captain Mansoor and Khalid Aslam’s 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with a Balochistan number plate.
“We literally had to dig out this car from under a collapsed wall,” Captain Mansoor told Dawn. “It was squashed. It toTok us 35 years to rebuild it. Even now only its bonnet and grill are original. The rest we rebuilt through metal beating,” he said, adding that there are only two or three people who can drive it. When asked why, he opened the driver’s side of the door to show its gear which was near the door on the driver’s right. “That’s how the car was designed. You can’t even see this gear while driving. It takes some getting used to,” Captain Mansoor laughed.
Another marvel of engineering, though not that old, was Ibaad Lari’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird. “I found it on Facebook in one of the classic car groups and had to buy and have it imported,” he said. “Look, it has power windows and power steering, too. Also the steering wheel has this swing away mechanism, which was all part of it originally,” he said. “You see 1963 was the space age era and the Americans also made many innovations in their cars,” he explained.
Young Zeeshan Tahir, a lover of vintage and classic cars, pointed out that the 1960s was the time of gorgeous, beautiful cars in America. “That’s when they nailed it. They were quite ahead in automotive engineering and what’s more, they also built comfortable cars that happened to be a statement of art,” he said, pointing to a red 1965 Ford Fastback and another Mustang convertible that had a strange model year of 1964 and a 1/2 (half).
One could also see that all the American cars were left-hand driven and the European ones were right-hand drive. On one side of the display area, one could see all the Volkswagen Beetles lined up. There was also a Micro Bus parked next to them.
Tahir pointed out that the Beetle was also a car that was made for the public by Germany around World War II. “There was a shortage of fuel in those days and the car was designed to consume less fuel,” he said. He also added that similarly the low cost Fiat mobilised Italy.
Meanwhile, Razi Nayyar of Motor Club of Pakistan as well as Heritage Motoring Club could not have arrived without his favourite 1972 deep green Jaguar XJ6 Series-1 that originally belonged to former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. But this time he also brought his two-tone, cream colour with maroon roof 1959 Dodge Kingsway. “They are heritage cars, and what better place to show them off than the heritage Frere Hall building?” Nayyar smiled.
His friend Shoaib Qureshi, one of the organisers of the Car Show, said that they also organised several classic car rallies throughout the year. “We are about to leave for another of our rallies from Karachi to Swat on Oct 26 and so since we were all gathering up for that, we also thought of exhibiting our cars here,” he said. Qureshi had come with three cars — a blue 1972 Mercedes 300 SEL, a black 1983 Chevrolet Camaro and an orange 1991 Cadillac Brougham.
About the Heritage Motoring Club, Tauqir Sultan Awan, its patron-in-chief, said that they have three chapters, South (Sindh and Balochistan), Centre (Rahim Yar Khan to Jhelum) and North (AJK, G-B, KP and FATA). “Our rallies take us all over the country in our classic cars. This time it is from Karachi to Swat. Earlier, in September we travelled to Nathiagali and before that, in April, we drove to Attock,” he said.
When asked if the cars, being old, give them any trouble on the way, he said that it happens all the time. “Sometimes we have a broken axle, sometimes failed brakes, but we also know how to deal with all these issues and carry on going,” he chuckled.
Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021