New Delhi: Vintage automobiles including first petrol-fuelled car 'Motorwagen' and rare period motorcycles from golden era of Lambretta to BSA, stole the hearts of people here as heritage enthusiasts took the carefully-preserved beauties out today for a spin.
Over 220 rare cars and 7 period two-wheelers were paraded on the 52-km-long route from Delhi to Gurgaon as part of the fifth edition of the two-day '21 Gun Salute International Vintage Car Rally' that kicked off from the historic Red Fort.
Finest automobiles from Ford Galaxy to Studebaker and 1929 Rolls Royce Tourer and 1928 Morris to 1936 Daimler Sports Coupe and 1947 Cadillac, among others, competed for people's attention and wowed them in equal measure.
But, it was 1886 'Motorwagen' invented by German engineer Karl Friedrich Benz, of Mercedes-Benz fame, and "flown in from Malaysia" especially for the occasion that stood out. "It is said to be the first petrol-fuelled vehicle ever and looks like a horse carriage. We are proud to have it among our fleet on display in the rally," Chairman and Managing Director of the Rally Madan Mohan said.
Madan, who himself owns an impressive vintage fleet of "253 cars and 99 bikes" said the occasion also brings an impressive touch of royalty, so integral to vintage cars, as "descendants of 51 erstwhile royal families have participated in the rally".
He said that Secretary of Tourism, (Government of India) Lalit K Panwar has also shown keen interest in partnering with '21 Guns...' to promote India as a favoured "motoring destination". "He (Secretary) has been impressed by the response and has asked us to apply to the ministry, to let the brand of 'Incredible India' be attached to the event to reach out to tourists in and out of the country. They wish to include this as part of their annual calendar," Madan said.
The rally was inaugurated by Chhatrapati Shahu II Bhonsle, the current descendant of the Kolhapur Royal family in Maharashtra. The royal participants included families of Rajkot, Gondal, Kishangarj, Ajaygarh to name a few.
Among the heart-stealing bikes were a red Lambretta, green Indian of American vintage, British BSA and Triumph and Matchless. About 10 cars from Singapore and Malaysia were scheduled to be part of the rally, but some of them couldn't make it due to "customs clearance".
Last year, the rally saw a participation of 125 vehicles, and the organisers wish to push the international collaboration several notches higher next year, by having 5 cars from abroad.