There are very few things that can make my family and me drag ourselves out of bed on a Sunday morning. However, 29th January 2023 was one of the early morning starts we were all really excited about, our 3 year old included for whom it was also the first ever vintage car rally!
Talking of firsts, there were more than just one – my father could join us for this event and it was his first ever time experiencing a vintage car rally. My father and my daughter’s attendance in turn made it three generations in attendance – again another first for us as a family as we arrived at the iconic ITC Windsor
Manor (Formerly the Bedford House which is more than 150 years old) in our 1946 Dodge Fluid Drive!
The decision to take our Dodge for the FHVI ITC Drive was my husband Eshwar’s which involved, to say the least, quite a bit of the moving heaven and earth to make it happen – what with our full time jobs, the car being parked in the other end of the city at Eshwar’s mother’s home and most importantly the car’s battery that had a mind of its own! But the stars aligned and we managed!
With its lavish seating space inside, this one makes for an excellent family car with ample room for everyone and a generous boot space at the back as well.
This American beauty is special for many reasons to us personally but from the technical perspective it has a functional Fluid Drive which means it has no clutch plates. Fluid Drive is the trademarked name that Chrysler Corporation assigned to a transmission driveline combination which replaced the flywheel with a hydraulic coupling and performed the same function as a modern torque converter, only without torque multiplication. For as far back as 1946, that just sounds like a fantasy, doesn’t it?
Eshwar acquired this Dodge in 2003 from the Vandayar family in Bangalore who at the time had a milk business. Being only about 2-3 cars into his journey as a car collector, this dodge was the only car in running condition in his collection at the time. There were other cars which arrived dismantled in gunny sacks, to be worked on for months or even years together before they looked like cars to a layman!
While writing this piece I was also pleasantly surprised to know that this Dodge was the only vintage car in Eshwar’s collection that my late Father-in-Law had travelled in! In fact about a decade ago Eshwar had sold this car to a fellow collector, hoping to pick up another classic car he had his eyes on for a while. I was a graduate student in the US at this time and remember receiving a phone call from Eshwar at an unearthly hour informing me in a rather matter-of-fact manner that the Dodge had been sold. I guess he was not expecting the crestfallen response he got from me. He had apparently gotten an even more disappointed reaction from his father who was also Eshwar’s biggest support for this unusual hobby, which then forced him to apologise to the gentleman who had bought the car and he graciously returned the money after hearing Eshwar’s plight.
It was this incident that made us all realise how attached we all were to this car – somewhere along the way it had ceased to be only a prized piece of metal with wheels, for us it is a repository of precious memories. In 2019, when we were expecting our first child, Eshwar was getting some touch up restoration done on this Dodge to get it ready for our maternity photoshoot. But as luck would have it, the baby decided to arrive several weeks early and the photoshoot did not happen. So of course this car had to be our first choice for the said baby’s, now a curious toddler’s, first vintage car rally and what a wonderfully eventful day it turned out to be! Eshwar had also participated with this Dodge at the ITC Vintage Car Rally held almost a decade ago when the ITC group’s, then new ITC Gardenia opened in Bangalore.
The event itself was a remarkably distinguished one with the essence of heritage at its core which was strung together through several elements. It was not just another occasion to flaunt one’s collection but an amalgamation of heritage in its truest sense with the vintage vehicles at the centre of it all housed within the colonial architecture of Windsor Manor on a beautiful Bangalore winter morning. And that was not all. The food menu was thoughtfully curated to include local delicacies as well as world gourmet delights. The traditional Veeragase Kunitha performers from Ramnagaram brought in a festive energy, dancing with the people gathered and posing beside the cars for pictures. What was undoubtedly the strongest element that made this event a grand success was the hospitality and the exuberance with which Team FHVI, Dr. Ravi Prakash, Rupali Prakash and Sabena Prakash kept everyone’s spirits up!
Events like this FHVI Drive to Revive are not only a great opportunity for car collectors to showcase their cars but equally stimulating for families, particularly the young ones in the family. For first generation collectors like Eshwar and myself, family support is paramount – I am certain the car enthusiast fraternity will agree with me unanimously on this, be it sacrifices in terms of time or financial, one needs family to be on the same page about why we do what we do!
This event allowed us to celebrate our labour love as we drove around with family, introducing them to like minded car enthusiasts (So they now know that we are not alone in this crazy hobby of ours!). It was heartening to see several people come to see the cars who were not collectors themselves but share a love for automobiles. The event really enabled even spectators who are not collectors to get curious and engage in an immersive experience that is in essence the experience of the aesthetics of yesteryears. A truly delightful event which we will cherish for a very long time. As my 3 year old daughter said – “ It was awesome!” and I could not agree more!
Photo Credits: Rohini Sen, Ayush Govind, Siddarth Ramachandran, Vishwas Aravind, Kirat Singh, Raagam Studio