The Magic of Vintage Cars
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.