Why India Needs a Federation of Historic Vehicles

Bob Rupani Updated: April 05, 2017, 11:27 AM IST

This year we have seen some excellent classic car events including the Cartier Concours d'Elegance that we featured in the March issue. This was followed by the 21 Gun Salute in Delhi, which I believe got a very good response too. I am told the organisers have upped their game and the event was run in an appreciable manner. All this is very good news for the historical car movement in India.

27-Pre-War Classic American second runner up -1915 Ford Model T owned by  Siddhartha Khona

But what's more important are the heated debates taking place presently in our 'classic car circles'. These are about the formation of a Pan India Federation of Historic Vehicles in India. This has been proposed and from what I understand the process to register it has begun. The proposer has reached out to various classic cars clubs, museums, car collectors and enthusiasts across India to either be part of this federation or to support it. He has been sending out mails marked to almost 100 people and I also happen to be one of them.

From what I have been told, this proposed federation will work for the benefit of the historical car movement. It will also represent the 'classic car community' and try to ensure better support and regulations from the government of India and the various other authorities. Some serious issues facing classic car owners are proposals to scrap old cars, bans on using them in certain regions, registration and taxation issues etc. As of now, the government does not distinguish between old cars and historical old cars. This needs to happen.

As we have mentioned several times in the past, the interest in classic cars is growing. There are more and better events now. The standard and quality of restoration has seen an amazing improvement. Internationally also, there is a lot more awareness of the historical car movement in India. In fact in 2012, the world famous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance event had a special class for 'Maharaja Cars' and they have also announced a special Indian Heritage Class for 2018. Given all this and the number of historical cars and car collectors we have in our vast country, there is a dire need for a federation that can work jointly and help car collectors, restorers, clubs, museums and even younger enthusiasts who want to become part of the movement.

Interestingly, in all the numerous mails I have seen regarding this proposal, so far nobody has questioned the need for this federation. Sure, some have said they will not be part of it. Others have raised queries about its functioning, the election of the president and other office bearers, the aims, the intent and several such things. Many good suggestions have been made too. But there are clearly some people who don't want to be part of this federation. I guess they rather retain their own turf. There are also several egos that are clashing and personal enmities are present too, which have led to some very nasty things being said. Surprisingly, the president of FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens), the global federation of 1.5 million historic vehicle owners, enthusiasts and professionals with a representation in over 60 countries, is also marked on these mails and is fully aware of all discussions taking place in our country. Given the fact that it's all so much in the open, I thought I would share my views too.

In my opinion, there is a clear and urgent need for a Federation of Historic Vehicles in India. It must be collective and transparent in its functioning. It should also be democratic. If anyone sees the mails sent out by the proposer, it's obvious that he has made a genuine effort to reach out to all. But it's sad that he has also kept quiet when some people have shown and expressed hatred. Nevertheless, I hope better sense prevails and everyone behaves more maturely and works collectively for the betterment of the movement.

In the past, some of us have been witness to the bitter rivalry in the running of motorsport in India. It even led to the formation of another federation. Yes, I am talking of the time the Motorsports Association of India (MAI) became the national sporting authority (ASN) of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). For some years, this association had the responsibility of motorsport in India under the International Sporting Code of the FIA. That is until the original federation, the FMSCI (Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India) regained its FIA national sporting authority (ASN) status and once again became the governing body. And while this tussle between the MAI and FMSCI was going on, it was Indian motorsport that suffered. It was the participants and enthusiasts that were torn apart and forced to take sides. They were not the only victims. The clubs, the sponsors, the tuners who prepared cars and bikes, the media that covered the events, everyone was affected. Manufacturers shunned the sport and public interest dwindled too. And we became a laughing stock. In fact, Indian motorsport is still recovering from the ill effects of the battle waged between the MAI and FMSCI.

I truly hope and pray we do not see a replay of that in the historical car movement. I wish we learn from history and do not repeat the follies of the past. But will this happen? Your guess is as good as mine. Oh Darling, Yeh Hai India.


Latest Videos

View All Videos