Grand old ladies of Calcutta Vintage and Classic cars

January in Calcutta, makes every Calcuttan go berserk with activities. The primary reason being the beautiful cool winter weather. Among a number of events that are dished out to the city dwellers, winter exhibitions of handicraftsleather goodsfood fests attract large crowds.

The biggest crowd puller is The Statesman newspaper organized Classic and vintage car rally. Perhaps, you may be aware of the fact that Calcutta at one time was the citadel of British power or India under Raj mantle in her pre-independence clothing before 1947. Many parts of this 300 plus years city, have old buildings, arched walls, huge iron gates, big sprawling areas with lovely gardens, quite similar to buildings and architecture that you can see in Europe and England. The ‘Rajas’ and ‘Maharajas’,  the elite businessmen along with the commoners of that time also used to roam around the city in motor cars that were also of that age. The people of this city make an annual promise to showcase and drive around, one Sunday in January those beautiful vehicles built some 50 plus years ago. The cars come with their polish, shinning in the winter sun, painted wire wheels, the bygone era horns blaring, to let today’s x-generation know of their august presence. The starting point is usually, the Eastern Command army stadium near Strand road, beside the Hooghly river. Everyone, children, men, women, in their winter dress, all visit this gala event and stay till noon and beyond to witness the stately ladies whipping up the dust and with turned wheels present themselves to be inspected, and desired…they look incredibly beautiful!

You can have a quick look at all the cars, in rolling state as they made their way from the Eastern Command stadium:

All the old ladies in motion

Although today Calcutta is known as ‘Kolkata’, let me use ‘Calcutta’, the old name as we are flipping pages of a history book and virtually touring the cache of antique cars. Like everyone else, I was excited too, to join the revelry with a heart full of car love.  I spent 4 hours to see it all. Let me take you down this wonderful memory lane where you will see the cars of a bygone age… and trust me, some of them look so pristine, untouched by the ravages of time; you will feel as if they just drove out of the showrooms, moments back.

All that is missing are men in black suits and deerstalker hats, and ladies in those flowing vintage hats set at an angle to protect from the sun. I salute the owners who have maintained their old mechanical beauties with fascinating care. 

1938 Plymouth coupe, resplendent in red and black makes a bold statement of beauty and design at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1938 Plymouth coupe, resplendent in red and black makes a bold statement of beauty and design
1936 Daimler 15 6 saloon, known for robust design and dependability stood gallantly with her compatriots of 1930s'  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1936 Daimler 15 6 saloon, known for robust design and dependability stood gallantly with her compatriots of 1930s’ 
1906 Renault Freres, 8 Horsepower (HP), 2 cylinders flashing red as a youngster waiting to touch her  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1906 Renault Freres, 8 Horsepower (HP), 2 cylinders flashing red as a youngster waiting to touch her
A 1912 Coventry having 20 HP, and 4 cylinders wait to be fired up. Everyone wants to pose with her  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1912 Coventry having 20 HP, and 4 cylinders wait to be fired up. Everyone wants to pose with her
A 1922 Austin is all set to take its passengers effortlessly with its 12 HP, 4 cylinder engine  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1922 Austin is all set to take its passengers effortlessly with its 12 HP, 4 cylinder engine
A gleaming, midnight black 1922 Crossley 25 HP, 4 cylinders is being readied for the rally  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
A gleaming, midnight black 1922 Crossley 25 HP, 4 cylinders is being readied for the rally
1926 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost with her 40/50 HP, around 7.5-liter six-cylinder engine was whispering as she started...I could hardly hear her purring  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1926 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost with her 40/50 HP, around 7.5-liter six-cylinder engine was whispering as she started…I could hardly hear her purring
The owner of this 1926 Studebaker Erskine is dressed in the attire of those years and waits to start her 29.6 HP, 6 cylinder engine  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The owner of this 1926 Studebaker Erskine is dressed in the attire of those years and waits to start her 29.6 HP, 6 cylinder engine 
Red strip on black 1928 Ford, 12 HP, 4 cylinders parked beside the podium awaits inspection  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
Red strip on black 1928 Ford, 12 HP, 4 cylinders parked beside the podium awaits inspection
Onlookers are mesmerized by the beauty of this 1928 Studebaker  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
Onlookers are mesmerized by the beauty of this 1928 Studebaker
The 1930 Nash, 40 HP, 6 cylinders growled to catch the attention of the bystanders  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The 1930 Nash, 40 HP, 6 cylinders growled to catch the attention of the bystanders
Every bit of this 1931 Chevrolet Big 6 is meticulously maintained to churn out 25 HP, of raw power from her 6 cylinders  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
Every bit of this 1931 Chevrolet Big 6 is meticulously maintained to churn out 25 HP, of raw power from her 6 cylinders 
Family fully dressed to start the rally in this 1933 Austin using her 7 HP 4 cylinders engine  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
Family fully dressed to start the rally in this 1933 Austin using her 7 HP 4 cylinders engine
The soft purring of the 955 cc, 4 cylinders, made this 1933 Fiat stand out among others  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The soft purring of the 955 cc, 4 cylinders, made this 1933 Fiat stand out among others
The long white bonnet of the 1933 Alvis housed her 20 HP 6 cylinder engine, was indeed making a bold statement  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The long white bonnet of the 1933 Alvis housed her 20 HP 6 cylinder engine, was indeed making a bold statement
My hair had ruffled out, and used the fender to put it back in shape - it was shinning like a mirror - 1935 Bentley 3,1/2 liter 110 BHP beauty, she exuded power  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
My hair had ruffled out, and used the fender to put it back in shape – it was shinning like a mirror – 1935 Bentley 3,1/2 liter 110 BHP beauty, she exuded power
1936 Jaguar, with her 26 HP, 6 cylinder engine was all too powerful for being a 2 seater car  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1936 Jaguar, with her 26 HP, 6 cylinder engine was all too powerful for being a 2 seater car
The two immaculately vintage regal ladies - 1936 Vauxhall DX, and 1936 Skoda Berlina, parked abreast, both housing a 15 HP, 4 cylinder mill  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The two immaculately vintage regal ladies – 1936 Vauxhall DX, and 1936 Skoda Berlina, parked abreast, both housing a 15 HP, 4 cylinder mill 
This 1937 Austin 7 HP, 4 cylinder is a heritage car as it belongs to the Shovabazar house of nobles in central Calcutta  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
This 1937 Austin 7 HP, 4 cylinder is a heritage car as it belongs to the Shovabazar house of nobles in central Calcutta
1937 Opel Cabrio 10 HP, 4 cylinders looked very aristocratic with its brown color  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1937 Opel Cabrio 10 HP, 4 cylinders looked very aristocratic with its brown color
The black 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith 4.2 liters, 6 cylinders looked incredibly beautiful in the morning sunrise  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The black 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith 4.2 liters, 6 cylinders looked incredibly beautiful in the morning sunrise
This 1938 Adler 10 HP, 4 cylinders was surrounded by her owners wearing the dress of the 1930s'. She has starred in few detective movies making her popular in Calcutta  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
This 1938 Adler 10 HP, 4 cylinders was surrounded by her owners wearing the dress of the 1930s’. She has starred in few detective movies making her popular in Calcutta
My senses were numb when I saw these two vintage cars - exquisitely designed, every bit resonating brilliant design and elegance - a 1938 Rolls Royce, 4.3 liters, and 1935 Bentley, 3.5 liter  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
My senses were numb when I saw these two vintage cars – exquisitely designed, every bit resonating brilliant design and elegance – a 1938 Rolls Royce, 4.3 liters, and 1935 Bentley, 3.5 liter
Excited and happy, dressed in European attire, young ladies proudly stand beside a 1946 Morris and 1946 Renault, one is an 800 cc, 4 cylinder engine standing beside 1003 cc, 4 cylinder beauty  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
Excited and happy, dressed in European attire, young ladies proudly stand beside a 1946 Morris and 1946 Renault, one is an 800 cc, 4 cylinder engine standing beside 1003 cc, 4 cylinder beauty
A 1948 Rover, 14 HP, 4 cylinders vintage surrounded lovingly by her owner family..the elderly poses as The Godfather  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1948 Rover, 14 HP, 4 cylinders vintage surrounded lovingly by her owner family..the elderly poses as The Godfather
1943 Ford Jeep, rugged and general purpose, maintained very well across the years stands in the morning sun  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1943 Ford Jeep, rugged and general purpose, maintained very well across the years stands in the morning sun
Polished clean, this 1952 Citroen 15 pulled a huge crowd and engine note was almost that of a leopard, ready to leap, this car was famous for its traction avant monocoque design  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
Polished clean, this 1952 Citroen 15 pulled a huge crowd and engine note was almost that of a leopard, ready to leap, this car was famous for its traction avant monocoque design
Does n't it resemble like a mud flapper fish? This is a 1960 Messerschmitt, running on a 191 cc, 2 stroke 1 cylinder had enough grunt to take three people around city roads  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
Does n’t it resemble like a mud flapper fish? This is a 1960 Messerschmitt, running on a 191 cc, 2 stroke 1 cylinder had enough grunt to take three people around city roads
1967 Mercedes Benz 230S, with her proud owner, waits for the rally marshal to turn her 2.3 Litre motor  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1967 Mercedes Benz 230S, with her proud owner, waits for the rally marshal to turn her 2.3 Litre motor
The British built iconic 1963 Austin Mini Cooper, which revolutionized the automotive world with its transverse engine was making waves with the youngsters  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The British built iconic 1963 Austin Mini Cooper, which revolutionized the automotive world with its transverse engine was making waves with the youngsters
The 1949 Renault gets young company to cheer about  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The 1949 Renault gets young company to cheer about 
1947 Wolseley 14 stands upright, is blemish less, and this famous marque was bought my the Morris company in 1927  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1947 Wolseley 14 stands upright, is blemish less, and this famous marque was bought my the Morris company in 1927
An off-white 1948 Midget, small British two-seater attracted considerable crowd with her neat and compact design  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
An off-white 1948 Midget, small British two-seater attracted considerable crowd with her neat and compact design
1961 Midget (MG) Sports Roadster snatched everyone's attention with her sensuous curves. The 1.5L, B Series I4 engine had a growl of a tigress  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1961 Midget (MG) Sports Roadster snatched everyone’s attention with her sensuous curves. The 1.5L, B Series I4 engine had a growl of a tigress
1938 Riley Lynx, one of the most popular British cars built during the Second World War. very neat and functional yet so beautiful  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1938 Riley Lynx, one of the most popular British cars built during the Second World War. very neat and functional yet so beautiful
1946 Hudson Super 6 (straight 6 cylinders) seen in her shiny black color was a famous American car which pioneered automotive technology that pushed the USA in the front front  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1946 Hudson Super 6 (straight 6 cylinders) seen in her shiny black color was a famous American car which pioneered automotive technology that pushed the USA in the front front
1948 Buick Super 8, the beefy American muscle car of yesteryears, stood resplendent in her black clothing  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1948 Buick Super 8, the beefy American muscle car of yesteryears, stood resplendent in her black clothing
1949 Moris Minors, famous for their 918 cc Morris Side valve inline 4 cylinders was a very popular car in India, even 20 years back  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1949 Moris Minors, famous for their 918 cc Morris Side valve inline 4 cylinders was a very popular car in India, even 20 years back
1948 Morris 8 was a successful car in India, especially in Bengal, with middle-class families for her frugal petrol sipping behavior  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1948 Morris 8 was a successful car in India, especially in Bengal, with middle-class families for her frugal petrol sipping behavior
1939 Cadillac 60 Special, this big dimension-ed beefy machine in those days were popular with gangsters like 'Al Capone', used extensively as a getaway car  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
1939 Cadillac 60 Special, this big dimension-ed beefy machine in those days were popular with gangsters like ‘Al Capone’, used extensively as a getaway car
Enjoy the vintage ride as these elegant engineering marvels make a grand exit at the Eastern Command Stadium, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

As I was driving back home after meeting a slice of history, my thought ran around these vintage marvels. Comparing the cars that ran around me, the one I was driving, how different they are now..the advances the technology made..hardly I had turned a corner, an earth-shattering deep roar ripped my thoughts. Was it a Chopper ? or was it a jet fighter but the sound seemed to come at my eye level…and then my wing mirror told it all, a flash of red, and seconds passed when I stopped for the traffic lights… pulling beside me was the low slung, 21st-century sports car – the Ferrari 458 Italia.  

The deep throb of her exhausts sounded like Bon Jovi singing… what ironic, the engine roar brought me back to the future, telling me you are in 2016 and not in the 1930s’, the red messenger disappeared over the bridge.

The rumbling sound of her exhaust, the Ferrari 458 Italia broke my dream of vintage cars  at Kolkata, West Bengal, India by Gautam Lahiri
The rumbling sound of her exhaust, the Ferrari 458 Italia broke my dream of vintage cars

Well, I hope you enjoyed these vintage masterpieces as much as I loved writing about them.

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