A car enthusiast and regular participant in the Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally, 74-year-old Tutu Dhawan has more than five decades of hands-on automotive experience. Apart from being an award winner, he is a prominent name in the automotive industry in India. Dhawan shared his perspective on the vintage car scenario in India and his experiences at the Statesman Vintage car rallies. Excerpts:
Q. How many vintage and classic cars do you own?
A: I consider it a bad omen to count your beauties.
Q. What kinds of problems do owners of vintage cars face?
A: The biggest problem comes from not using Vintage & Classic cars. This results in stuck moving parts. Either the brakes lock up or the brake pedal simply goes to the ground without any braking action. Sometimes the clutch disc sticks to the steering wheel. The car’s pressure plate can’t move and the gears get stuck.
Q. What inspired you to work for vintage and classic cars?
A: From childhood, I had a passion for vintage vehicles. I could identify them from afar. I always consider these items to be works of art because the automobile was designed solely from a designer’s concept and perspective and no two manufacturers look and feel close. Modern vehicles have mandatory aerodynamic requirements. They should have a clean design and look.
Q. Which vintage car is your favourite?
A: In fact, even back when the automotive industry was at a very nascent stage, there was a wide variety of vehicles. There were cars for personal use, outdoor adventures, leisure trips. It depended on the occasion, so I don’t have a favorite and like to have one that best suits a particular occasion.
Q. Which cars are better, vintage/classic or modern?
A: I don’t think there is any comparison between vintage and classic cars versus modern vehicles. They have very different technology, appearance, comfort, security and entertainment. They are like different worlds!
Q. Give owners of vintage and classic cars at least one piece of advice.
A: Keep your vehicle in service. You should drive at least two or three times a month to make sure the battery stays charged and the mechanics stay well lubricated. In addition, the tires will also not have “Flat Spot”.
Q. How long have you been participating in The Statesman Rally? How was your experience as a participant?
A: I have participated in the Statesman Classic Car Rally from its inception in the 1960s until today. I find it to be family friendly and also the most honest fair in decisions about giving credits and prizes to attendees.
Q. What do you expect from the Statesman car show this time around?
A: I expect very good, well-restored vehicles.
Q. Since it is not a rally but an exhibition this year, what do you have to say about it?
A: Oh, I feel bad about this dedicated brotherhood of vintage and classic vehicle owners. They will miss their annual exhilaration of a nice ride in an old car, clunker, with family and friends and meeting like-minded people and exchanging lots of information and awareness about the restoration and maintenance of these vehicles.
Q. The authorities constantly talk about the increase in pollution. Do you think vintage cars will still exist in the future?
A: In time to come, these vehicles will begin to become even bigger collectibles and an object of desire, with the prices of these items being comparable to those of rare antiques and precious items.
Q. What is the future of modern petrol and diesel cars with electricity slowly leading the way?
A: It took nearly a century for the world to realize that a fossil fuel internal combustion engine is one of the dirtiest pieces of engineering that has contributed to global warming. So now it is replaced by a power plant under the hood. But in my opinion, even this alternative is not one hundred percent environmentally friendly because, firstly, we will have to improve our power supply and create more power plants of which ninety percent will be coal-fired, thus contributing to air pollution, plus the chemical residues from depleted and old batteries are highly toxic and cannot be disposed of in water or soil or burned in the atmosphere. This logic is very well understood by car manufacturers and they are finalizing the ultimate technology that will be used for the future and that is fuel cell or hydrogen power plant in vehicles.
Q. How many awards have you won in recent classic car rallies?
A. (Laughter) uncountable now!
Q. What is your most favorite part of the Statesman Rally and Car Show?
A: The Statesmen Vintage Car Rally is over six decades old. It is a politics-free and fairest motoring event in India. That, I think, has been its uniqueness and strength.