Some of the most wonderful memories of my school and college days are of going to The Statesman Vintage Car Rally over the years. Started in New Delhi in 1964, and brought to Calcutta in 1968, it is the oldest, continuously-run such event in India and the sub-continent.
I can still recall the excitement of waking up early in the morning, making sure my Dad was awake as well, wolfing down some food my mother had cooked up, without really tasting anything, and running out with my Dad. You had to reach the concourse in the Maidan early enough so that you could grab of the best positions to see all the cars in their glory.
There was a lot of tamasha and good clean fun during the Rally. I remember the Army Band providing a march-past in one of the early editions of the Rally; the first vehicle to be flagged off was an ancient carriage pulled by real horse-power. Incidentally, all the pictures in this series of posts were taken by me or my Dad (no longer with us).
There were fancy dress competitions, often with a sense of humour.
In the concourse, curious bystanders were allowed to peer into the carriage, inside the engine and other parts of these beauties that were open to inspection, as long as you behaved yourself. Here are two pictures of my old college friend, Surya Bose, being very curious and then looking sheepish after the car owner had ticked him off.
There were some real beauties from all over India who came to flaunt their charms; here from left to right, we have a Humber from 1903, a 1907 Stoewer (this one’s really rare), and a Fiat Balilla from the early 1930s.
Some of the most beautiful vintage cars were owned by Vijay Mallya – the Humber (and maybe the Stoewer) were from his stable. This magnificent 1926 Mercedes Benz K-Type was certainly from his collection.
What’s a vintage car rally without Rolls-Royces? Sure enough, the Statesman rally had more than its share of these magnificent vehicles – I’m just showing two.
There were some beautiful American cars and even vintage 2-wheelers on display.
From top left, going clockwise: 1920s Studebaker, 1921 Wolseley (I’m not sure about this), 1931 Buick, 1955 Buick, a 1952 Baby Austin carrying a little baby of her own, and a very rare rear-engined 1935 Mercedes Benz W 23.
There were some really beautiful cars which I can’t identify – I used to take notes during the Rallies, but over time, the notes have gone the way of all flesh.
If any reader can identify these cars, I’ll be really grateful.