The Magic of Vin­tage Cars

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An elite but pas­sion­ate group of vin­tage car col­lec­tors in Pak­istan, restor­ing an­tique rides is like trav­el­ling back in time and money seems to be no ob­sta­cle when the prize is a Lin­coln con­vert­ible that be­longed to an Afghan king or a Rolls-Royce once used by In­dia’s last viceroy.

Mohsin Ikraam, pres­i­dent of the Vin­tage and Clas­sic Car Club of Pak­istan, says the col­lec­tors help pre­serve a por­tion of the re­gion’s his­tory of the past cen­tury. Among rich Pak­ista­nis, he says, the de­sire to own clas­sic au­to­mo­biles has been grow­ing and the club’s membership has now topped 10,000.

The club spon­sors many pro­mo­tions and events where own­ers roll out their an­tiques for an­nual car shows or take

them on ral­lies span­ning hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres across Pak­istan, some­thing that might raise eye­brows among those aware of just how volatile this coun­try can be. To out­siders, Pak­istan is more known for mil­i­tant havens in its north­west­ern tribal ar­eas and Tale­ban in­sur­gents who have fought for over a decade to over­throw the gov­ern­ment and im­pose a harsh ver­sion of law, killing tens of thou­sands of peo­ple in the war.

But Pak­istan’s gear­heads are a tes­ta­ment to the uni­ver­sal ap­peal of fix­ing up and main­tain­ing vin­tage cars, more com­monly as­so­ci­ated with Amer­ica, Bri­tain and West­ern coun­tries from where popular shows like “Top Gear” or “Fast N’ Loud” have reached Pak­istani ca­ble chan­nels.

Busi­ness­man Raja Mu­jahid Za­far, has nearly 40 clas­sic cars and the old­est among them a 1914 Ford Model T at his pala­tial Islamabad home. A spe­cial sec­tion of the house and grounds is ded­i­cated to his hobby, in­clud­ing a big con­crete garage and two out­door shel­ters.

Za­far’s “first love” is a ma­roon, six-cylin­der Wolse­ley 1936 model, a “wreck” when he found it in 1988. It took him sev­eral years and trips abroad to hunt down parts to re­store it to orig­i­nal con­di­tion.

Get­ting spare parts is the most chal­leng­ing as­pect of the hobby, the col­lec­tors say, and parts are of­ten shipped from the US or Europe. Ad­ver­tise­ments are put in for­eign news­pa­pers even friends trav­el­ing abroad are re­cruited for help.

There is no limit to the cars he would love to have. In his bed­room, dec­o­rated with hun­dreds of small mod­els of old car, the wall clock, the side lamp, the ash tray and the mu­sic player are all in the shape of mod­els still miss­ing from his col­lec­tion. “Th­ese are mostly the cars I dream to own,” Raja Mu­jahid Za­far says.

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