Madras Heritage Motoring Club – Annual club show
The Madras Heritage Motoring Club (MHMC), based in Chennai, the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu in south India, recently held their annual club show between the 17th and 18th of August, 2019. The city of Chennai is popularly referred to as the ‘Detroit of India’ since it is a major hub of automobile and auto ancillary companies. The event, known as ‘The Chennai Heritage Auto Show’, in association with the Federation of Historic Vehicles of India, and member of FIVA, marked its 18th year this year. Originally an event to display club members vintage and classic cars and two wheelers, the club has, over the years, welcomed vintage and classic vehicles from other parts of India and this was evident from this year’s event, where a number of heritage vehicles from other cities took part in the event.
This year the club had the privilege of associating with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and presenting a talk on ‘’A historical view of automobiles and transportation in Chennai’’ by Dr. V. Sumantran, Chairman, Celeris Technologies. He was a member of the board at Tata Motors and the Chief Executive Officer of TATA Motors’ Car business in its formative years, reporting to Mr. Ratan Tata. During this time, he led the growth of that fledgling business to become India’s 2nd largest automaker and also oversaw the development for their landmark products including the Tata Nano. Substantial members of the public who had come to witness the heritage display were thrilled and enjoyed the wonderful talk by Dr. V. Sumantran. INTACH is recognised as one of the World’s largest heritage organisations, with over 190 chapters across the country. In the past 31 years INTACH has pioneered the conservation and preservation of not just our natural and architectural heritage but intangible heritage as well.
Over 140 vintage and classic cars and two wheelers took part this year. The display areas included glittering halls and outdoor areas both covered and open to give visitors ample space to admire the exhibits. Saturday and the early part of Sunday also witnessed a scrutiny of the entries of club members by empanelled judges. Some of the outstanding entries included a freshly restored 1914 Benz 8/20 hp tourer, a 1909 Wolseley –Siddeley limousine, a very rare and beautifully presented 1937 SS Jaguar 2 ½ litre tourer and a 1939 MG TB. Remarkably, the Benz has remained in the same family since new. No classic car event is complete without a Rolls-Royce, and the Chennai show featured three. A 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II was flanked by a meticulously restored 1934 Rolls-Royce 20/25 ‘D-back’ formal limousine. A well preserved 1950 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Station Wagon a vanity van once used by actors of yesteryears based on a mid-1930s Dodge Brothers 1 ½ ton truck chassis and an Austin A90 Atlantic were some of the other attractions. Amongst recently imported vehicles, a 1973 Jaguar E-Type series III and an Aston Martin DB6 were crowd pullers. Iconic models from MV Agusta, James Cycle Co., AJS (A. J. Stevens & Co.) and Matchless were displayed in the motorcycle section.
Over the last few years, many classic motoring clubs in India have increasingly been recognising cars and two wheelers which were initially assembled in India and later fully manufactured in India. The Chennai display included several vehicles now generally referred to as ‘Indian Heritage vehicles’. Noteworthy examples were a Hindusthan 14 (based on the Morris 14), Baby Hindusthan (based on the Morris Minor), and Hindusthan Mark 1 and Mark II models (based on the Morris Oxford series) and Standard Heralds (based on the Triumph Herald). A large number of cute Fiat 1100 103 models, from 1955 upto the late 1960s (Indian assembled) were present. The scooter section had a selection from the houses of Vespa (Indian assembled models) and the very interesting German Victoria Vicky moped, also assembled in India.
Inspite of overcast skies and a steady drizzle on Sunday, a steady stream of enthusiasts from the morning changed the atmosphere at the venue into a grand carnival of chrome and brass laden automobiles with their owners happily interacting with the several thousand visitors, many of whom were teenagers and younger children accompanied by their parents. MHMC does not charge an entry fee for the visiting public. The event ended in the afternoon with prizes being awarded by the judging panel to the best cars and two wheelers in their respective categories.
The Madras Heritage Motoring Club is amongst the largest motoring clubs in India and provides various facilities to its members which includes subsidy on fuel for members vehicles and subsidies for vehicle insurance, apart from organising regular drives and meets for club members and assisting in sourcing of spare parts for member vehicles.
Text & Images by: Prithvi Nath Tagore
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FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) is the worldwide organisation dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles and related culture, as well as their safe use. Since April 2017, FIVA has been a non-governmental partner of UNESCO, and continues to pursue its successful FIVA World Motoring Heritage Year programme.
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La FIVA est la seule organisation internationale de son genre à s’être fixé pour objectif l’encouragement d’une utilisation sûre des véhicules routiers historiques à propulsion mécanique au même titre que la préservation et la promotion de la culture des véhicules routiers en elle-même. En 2016, la FIVA a célébré son 50ème anniversaire avec le programme « Année du Patrimoine Automobile Mondial » sous le patronage officiel de l’UNESCO.
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