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A drive back into the past

Classic cars ‘don’t spill oil, they only mark their territory’
No, it wasn’t love at first sight, but it was something quite close to it when I happened to walk towards the classic car (a whitewashed Jaguar) that stood still in front of me at the Ceylon Motor Show 2010 that was held last week at the BMICH.
Presented jointly by the Classic Car Club of Ceylon and the Ceylon Motor Traders Association, the show featured over 100 Classic Cars and the very latest vehicles being marketed in Sri Lanka; therefore providing a unique blend of vehicles and history for the viewing pleasure of the public.

I wouldn’t say the place was swarming either but there were just the right amount of people lulling about and taking a peek at a car or two. Young chaps kept flashing their cameras; mothers held their little sons hands and followed their husbands who pointed out what was what and other old daddies peered hard to have a look at the number plate, nod and smile to themselves recognising some of the timeplates.
Oh yes, I kind of took a step back from the present day as I walked along the sheds laid outside the hall where the vintage and classic cars were homed for the next two days. I took my own cool time checking out the number plates myself along with the information cards placed in front of the cars – running my eyes through Alfa Romeos, Harley’s, Volkswagens, Pontiacs, Plymouths, Fords, Daimlers, Hillmans, Buicks, Chevrolets, Triumphs and Sunbeams.

“It’s nice to see some of the classic and vintage cars as intact as they are and it is certainly an eye-opener as well for some of us who missed out on being born in those early ages when these cars were actually ridden on roads,” said Sonali who was present at the show along with her husband and two children.
“This is my first experience at the Ceylon Motor Show and I must say that it is well organised – there is ample space for plenty of people to walk around, vendors selling food in case some of the little ones tend to get hungry and the setting is also done quite well – the vintage and classic cars under large hoods and sheds is an ideal choice or else they would look too cramped inside the hall. By keeping them outside there is a sense of originality unlike the newer and more modernised automobiles that were located inside. Not my style of course; I prefer the oldies – their cute and larger-than-life style, the eye-catching colours. The modern vehicles can’t stand a chance being placed next to these guys!” commented another gentleman.

They certainly do have a unique style of their own; each from its era be it from the 20s to the 80s. The 90s cars somewhat lost the idea of ‘style’ I think whereas the older ones definitely have more spunk – with their overly creative curves, nearly blinding colours and sleek seats and tire rims. One look at the modern cars and one can tell all creativity is truly lost on those who design cars in today’s world. How can they say there is a sense of class and style when all it does is shine? These oldies are what class and style is all about! (I seem to have developed a soft spot for the oldies I must say)
My dear daddy owns a classic car – a 1970s VW Beetle (Beetle Bug as I like to call it) and nothing about seemed to fascinate me much. It doesn’t have a/c and only two doors although there is ample space for three others at the back. Its blinding red and I hated it as a child.
I couldn’t understand why my father never sold it, even though it broke down or stalled quite often and he even had to repair it for six months one time! People would stop us near the grocery store or at a traffic light and often ask if he were selling it.

Almost rudely, quite possessively I must say, he would say no. He’d wash it on a Sunday morning or afternoon, like as if stroking a newborn and let it dry on its own becoming the bright squeaky clean bug that it is. I still don’t think twice about its value when I get in every morning and daddy drives me to work but I do understand now why he cares for it. It’s these kinds of classic cars that emanate class unlike the savvy new BMWs or Mercs.
It is these oldies that showcase true workmanship; the kind of automobiles proudly restored, preserved and loved by those of the Classic Cars Club and those much like my own father.
For them it is like preserving time, something that keeps them in the past they long to hold so near; they are not just cars to them, but more like their babies.
Whenever someone questions about our VW, I can the pride glimmer in my father’s eyes and this is just these cars are all about.

Dedicated to the preservation, restoration and enjoyment of classic cars, The Classic Cars Club of Sri Lanka celebrates an era of some of the finest automobiles every built. The club was founded in the year 1992, bringing together a group of pople, old and middle aged, who have a profound respect and love for classic cars. The club today boasts over 250 members.

“We provide the foundation for the preservation of these masterful works by enabling members to interact, share ideas and restoration tips, as well as providing an opportunity to exercise these machines in a safe environment via our regular club events. We also drive the love for classics by organising public and educational events giving a wider audience access to the history and beauty of these cars” – Classic Cars Club
Gunaratne was also spectator who quite enjoyed the classics, “it’s quite thrilling and captivating to see a show of this scale and kind in Colombo; I know motor shows have been held for some time but this is the first time I’ve come to one and it’s a good thing that we have people doing this kind of thing too. This way I’m able to show my son the kind of cars of my days!”
So I guess it’s safe to say that all in all the highlight of the Ceylon Motor Show 2010 was indeed the vintage and classic cars sections. Old surely is gold!


Posted on Thursday, November 25, 2010 @ 02:24:17 LKT


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