Endeavour: Fizza Shabbar
A young woman from Lahore makes her dream come true.
Can you name the car that won the first prize in PakWheels Lahore Auto Show, Pakistan’s biggest car exhibition, held on March 22, 2015? It was won by a homemade car, solely designed and produced by Fizza Shabbar, a fine arts graduate from Anjuman-e-Himayate-Islam College in Lahore. She converted a Vespa scooter into a motor car single-handedly. Turning a 2-wheeled scooter into a 4 wheeler was an innovative idea, primarily conceived by Fizza to relieve the grief of her lost brother, a car enthusiast, who died owing to a brief illness in 2011.
Created out of used materials and old parts of a Vespa, Fizza Shabbar took the challenge of assembling a homemade car despite the lack of support and motivation from her family. Most of her relatives and friends had rejected her ideas as being too weird and difficult to implement, particularly for a woman like Fizza with no auto engineering background whatsoever.
Says Fizza, “Of course, things were not favourable and supportive in the very beginning when I decided to make a car on my own by reusing old engine and auto parts. Considering that great ideas are always rejected at the start for being impractical, I didn’t look back and kept working on making a dream car with very limited financial resources and auto assembling skills. By the grace of God Almighty, today I have achieved what I strived for.”
Created out of a recycling passion, Fizza’s contraption happens to be quite a task from its inception to final completion, breaking the stereotype of a male-dominant society where nobody expects a woman to design a car and bring it on the road. In addition, the idea of using a Vespa engine to make a 4-wheeled automobile is out of the ordinary, but creative people like Fizza love producing different things by using recycled materials. Since her childhood, she has been passionate about finding connections between different objects and this is what is now helping her move forward.
“To be very honest, I don’t believe in being confined to routine methods and old techniques as we always need new, out of the box ideas to create wonders. Therefore, I always try to use new techniques and materials, because this is the best way to discover the hidden potential of various materials and components,” she says.
Assembled in the shape of a low-budgeted, beautiful small car, her Vespa creation has everything to fascinate local automotive fans. For instance, it’s an environmentally-friendly car, adding no more noise or smoke to an already polluted environment. Despite the fact that a scooter’s centre of gravity is totally different than that of a 4-wheeled automobile, the car runs quite smoothly on motorbike wheels through its auto load balancing feature skillfully configured in terms of center of gravity.
Starting from soldering, metal-joining and welding, etc., Fizza took charge of the entire fabrication process herself - a daunting task, especially when it comes to converting the frame structure of an open vehicle into a closed one. She added two front tyres and also crafted a canopy made out of iron sheets, offering a greater sense of style and comfort. With limited money, unfavourable working conditions and time restrictions, it took her almost 4 years to complete the car and the whole project came out to be a ‘one-woman show’ at the end of the day.
Due to its commercial viability and local commuting needs, Fizza’s recycled masterwork has also attracted prospective investors and auto companies in Pakistan, where local commuters are always looking for affordable transport. Currently working as a curator at the Nairang Art Gallery in Lahore, Fizza is pursuing her car-making dream in her spare time. She has now started working on another car for which she will again use a motorcycle engine.
“We can never escape problems, external challenges and intimidating concerns while following dreams, but a person like me loves working in rather difficult and de-motivating conditions as it helps me take it as a challenge,” she says.