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Old 24th December 2007, 06:19   #1
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Default Tales from India's vintage car collectors

Pune, Sep 26 (IANS) Zaheer Vakil, 73, bought his first car out of his pocket money when he was in school, a 1928 Fiat. It took him two years to restore it. On his 18th birthday, when he got his licence, he drove it to college.

That's how the Pune resident's journey of collecting vintage cars began. Today he is the proud owner of 20 vintage and classic cars. While he still has the Fiat, among his other priced possessions are a 1947 Chrysler, Windsor and a 1947 Buick, Super Convertible.

'One has to be born with the passion for cars, only then can you become a collector of vintage cars, some people get pleasure in collecting paintings and art, for me it's cars and I get pleasure in restoring these cars,' Vakil told IANS.

He is the only one in his family who is interested in cars. His daughter used to take part in car rallies but not any more, he said.

Most vintage car collectors buy the cars from places like Chor Bazaar or an old garage. The cars when bought are almost like junk. It is the restoration process that makes them priceless.

Fali Dhondy, an entrepreneur from Mumbai, is the proud owner of a 1929 Roll Royce, said to be one of only 10 existing in the world. He says the car came to him in a bag.

'It took me five years to restore it, importing spare parts, specialised mechanics, carpenters, electricians and painters are hired to make the car look like it is now,' said Dhondy, who took part in the Maharashtra Automotive Sports Association car rally here last week.

Fortunately for Dhondy, his daughter also adores cars. Seven years ago Dhondy and his daughter drove the 1929 Rolls Royce all the way from Delhi to Mumbai, covering 3,000 km as part of the 'Rally of the Raj', which stopped over at various palaces.

With parking space a big rarity in Mumbai, Dhondy prefers to park some of his cars in a garage in nearby Lonavala town. He also has a 308 GTSI Ferrari, indeed a beautiful piece of machinery.

One of the oldest vintage car collectors of Pune is the Poonawalla family.

The family today has a fleet of 25 cars. According to Yohan Poonawala, collecting vintage cars was in his blood. At the car rally, he stole everybody's attention when he rolled his latest addition, 'The Phantom' - a 2005 Rolls Royce worth Rs.35 million. The silver grey vehicle made many a heart leap up.

Poonawalla, a die-hard Rolls Royce fan, also owns Phantom III. He said that in the pre-independence era, Indian maharajas used to import 25 percent of the Rolls Royce cars manufactured in the world.

But around the 1950s, many foreign vintage car collectors came to India and bought these priceless cars at throwaway prices. In order to protect the Indian car industry and the vintage car collectors, the Indian government banned the import and export of vintage cars.

'It was a very good move at that time, but now times have changed; we would like to appeal to the commerce ministry to lift the ban on the import of vintage cars. That will not affect the Indian car industry any more and at the same time we can also import vintage cars from abroad,' said Poonawalla.

'Beggars can't be choosers - finding a good vintage car has become increasingly difficult with time,' said Poonawalla, who is a member of the Rolls Royce Enthusiast club in Britain.

In the last 15 years, though, the family has added 15 cars to its fleet.

Poonawala feels with the growing population in Pune, driving these expensive cars is no more fun. And, guess what, he is forced to take out his 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo, only in the middle of the night, since during daytime the traffic is bad and so are the roads.

But day or night, there's no stopping these vintage car collectors and their beauties.

Source: Tales from India's vintage car collectors - Yahoo! India News
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Old 27th December 2007, 09:21   #2
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Zaheer Vakil has always had a soft corner for American cars, especially Buicks. A fantastic collection, some keeps rotating. Ive spent my entire school holidays fiddling around at his garage a few years back. Last I remember they were restoring a V12 Lincoln and a Thunderbird, they must be ready by now.
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Old 27th December 2007, 11:19   #3
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THUNDERBIRD!! you mean ford right the one which run on white petrol
how many of these are there karlos?
i think there is one in chennai and one owned by some maharaja in rajastan

do you have any pics of the car restored or unrestored

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Old 27th December 2007, 11:56   #4
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THUNDERBIRD!! you mean ford right the one which run on white petrol
how many of these are there karlos?
i think there is one in chennai and one owned by some maharaja in rajastan

do you have any pics of the car restored or unrestored
The Tbird being restored is ex Shammi Kapoor. I havent seen it upclose, I dont know which model it was, I recall it vaguely being a later car, as I saw it dismantled.

A friend in Madras owns this car,



Restoration was on in full swing, it only needed assembly, maybe its ready too. Will find out.

Am not aware of any more around, but Im sure there must be a few.
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Old 27th December 2007, 15:18   #5
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Its a 1955.
Know of only two '55 Tbirds no 56 or 57s.......
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Old 27th December 2007, 18:35   #6
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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
The Tbird being restored is ex Shammi Kapoor. I havent seen it upclose, I dont know which model it was, I recall it vaguely being a later car, as I saw it dismantled.

A friend in Madras owns this car,



Restoration was on in full swing, it only needed assembly, maybe its ready too. Will find out.

Am not aware of any more around, but Im sure there must be a few.


this person also owns the pontiac transam right?
i think there was a transam in the recent chennai rally
maybe its the same owner
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Old 27th December 2007, 19:03   #7
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this person also owns the pontiac transam right?
i think there was a transam in the recent chennai rally
maybe its the same owner
Yup thats right, He is xoticars on the forum.
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Old 27th December 2007, 20:25   #8
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This one was taken away from right under my nose for an absolute throw away price a few years ago from, Bombay. Sports a BML or a BMF regd. Was white then too. Was complete but in a shoddy condition. Before I could find the owner and negotiate some bigwig had beaten me to it. Still brooding...!! Also lost the other T-Bird which is in Bombay now, along a similar story. That one was a beaut.
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Old 27th December 2007, 23:49   #9
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i would love to see the thunderbird restored
wonder why it didnt show upat any of the recent rallies
i wonder if he has been able o restore it
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Old 28th December 2007, 08:47   #10
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You can see more pics of the car, plus some other great pics he has collected here

Zorpia: My 1955 Ford Thunderbird Convertible. - Zorpia: Album - Photo Sharing.
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Old 28th December 2007, 14:50   #11
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Also lost the other T-Bird which is in Bombay now, along a similar story. That one was a beaut.
Which one are you talking about? The other 55? Its not in BBay!
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Old 28th December 2007, 16:41   #12
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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
You can see more pics of the car, plus some other great pics he has collected here
So it is the same car!!

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Which one are you talking about? The other 55? Its not in BBay!
No i'm talking about a 58.
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Old 28th December 2007, 20:03   #13
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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
A friend in Madras owns this car,



Restoration was on in full swing, it only needed assembly, maybe its ready too. Will find out.

Am not aware of any more around, but Im sure there must be a few.
I'd stayed in his house for less than a day during one of my trips to madras this year......he was getting it done up again (sorry no pics.!).....must be finished by now.

Incidentally a friend of mine a few years ago told me someone he knew had a similar T-bird in their garage in Madras (no idea which area)......but one fine day it was destroyed in their garage itself (like smashed up first then set on fire!) by a local rowdy gang!

Last edited by Stanher : 28th December 2007 at 20:05.
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Old 28th December 2007, 22:18   #14
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I'd stayed in his house for less than a day during one of my trips to madras this year......he was getting it done up again (sorry no pics.!).....must be finished by now.

Incidentally a friend of mine a few years ago told me someone he knew had a similar T-bird in their garage in Madras (no idea which area)......but one fine day it was destroyed in their garage itself (like smashed up first then set on fire!) by a local rowdy gang!
smashed and burned a T-bird !!!! how could they
curse these rowdy gang
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Old 28th December 2007, 23:21   #15
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I was told that wasnt the only car in that garage they damaged....'turns out there was a '50s Plymouth and a Beetle also.....but the T-bird was obviously irreparably damaged!

'turns out the owner subsequently closed down the garage itself & moved away...he had complained against said gang to various authorities but in vain!
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