The 50th Statesman Vintage & Classic Car Rally will take place in Kolkata on Sunday, 3 February. The rally will start from the Eastern Command Sports Stadium at Fort William at 7 am. The Sunday after, i.e. 10 February, will see the Delhi edition of the rally, which is in its 53rd year.
The Statesman Vintage & Classic Car Rally is an annual event that takes place New Delhi and Kolkata. It’s one of the oldest, continuously-run events in India and the sub-continent. First organised in 1964 in New Delhi, the rally was taken to Kolkata in 1968 as The Statesman Vintage Car Rally.
The major attractions of the event are assembly of vintage and classic cars, followed by a drive through the city where cars are assessed for originality and performance on the road section, display of period and fancy dress, grand parade and live music.
Owners of the cars eagerly look forward to the rally as it gives them a unique opportunity to drive their well-maintained machines on the modern roads.
A special event was organised in October 2018 to kickstart the preparations for the annual Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally, as part of which an army of vintage cars and bikes drove into the Statesman House in New Delhi. As many as 50 vintage and classic cars along with eight vintage motorbikes were displayed by their respective owners as part of the special event.
On the display were a 1932 Bentley, a 1939 Lagonda, a 1947 Dodge, two 1936 Rolls Royce, a 1951 Jaguar, a 1939 Mercedes Roadster, a 1956 Plymouth and a 1964 Ford Mustang.
The oldest car in the block was an olive green Austin from 1926. The owner, Awini Ambu, said the 1926 Austin was originally registered in undivided Bihar and was imported and owned by the head of the technical college in Ranchi. It later ended up in the south. Ambu said his father purchased the car in the 1960s while holidaying in Nilgiris and drove it all the way up north. The car had been part of early rallies organised by The Statesman.
Conceived by Peter Moore, a professor of IIT-Delhi who also worked with The Statesman as a special morning correspondent, vintage car rallies have been a regular feature since 1964.
Moore, who died in 1999, inspired the founding of the Vintage Car Club of India (VCCI) in 1964 with an aim to procure and restore vintage cars and conserve them for future.