Rally tells stories of war & love…

I943-44 in Japan: During World War II, the Merrill’s Marauders of the US army advances 750 miles through some of the harshest jungle terrains in the world combating the Japanese Army, traversing more jungle on their long-range patrols than any other unit in the war in a 1943 Ford GPW Jeep with a machine gun, rockets and launcher, a shovel, axe, rear-mounted spare tyre, fuel canister and blackout headlamp.
2011 in India: Mr Subhra Gupta of Haldia dressed as a US army personnel participates in The Statesman Vintage and Classic Car Rally with his 1943 Ford GPW Jeep and wins the fancy dress competition.
Like a chronicler, the rally tells stories of war and love with each magnificent machine preserving a historical moment.
While Mr Chakravarty’s wife, Nandini, got a 1926 Austin as a wedding present in 1971, Mr RC Agarwal showed his Bubble Car and explained that during World War II, the Messerschmitt of Germany was famous for manufacturing fighter aircraft. But after the war, the company was banned from making such fighter aircraft. The company then diverted its production towards automobiles with features of an aircraft and the Bubble Car was born. In 1963, the production stopped. Very limited three wheeler cars with cockpit type roof and engine rotating both clockwise and anticlockwise are available worldwide. Mr Agarwal had tucked his grandchildren dressed as Bengali Bor-Bou in the world’s smallest commercial car and come for the rally. The competitors who not only dressed to represent a period but also to spread social messages impressed the judge for the fancy dress competition and renowned artist, Wasim Kapoor.
Mr Palchoudhuri, driving a 1928 Ford, dressed as a Bengali zamindar won an award in the category along with Mr Subhra Gupta.
Mr Philip Newman and Mr Jan Sei, motor enthusiasts and rallyists from the Isle of Man, a British island, have been travelling across the globe watching car rallies. “Some of the cars we see here are very rare and old.
The Austins, particularly, seen here are different from others seen across the globe. Their body styles are much better and perhaps they were designed to be exported to India,” said Mr Newman.
Dr Pallav Chatterjee, Ms Sonali Pal Chowdhury and Mr Abhijit Naik, represented a photography club called Kolkata Weekend Shoots. Mr Naik said that they come to the rally every year. “Though I am not a car lover. The ambience offers interesting subjects for photography,” he said. Naib Subedar Chandra Pal Singh, who comes to the rally every year with his wife, said: “The old vehicles help to understand the evolution of modern machines.”
The cars left for the rally cheered by onlookers and the musical performance began with a Bangla band, followed by Jolly Das and Javed Ali.
Mumbai-based Ali said that it was the first time he was performing in such an event. While some danced to the tunes near the stage, others jigged with their loved ones far from the stage.
Mr Chakravarty with his 1926 Austin reached the ground first followed by Mrs Chandra Bose in her 1930 Rolls Royce and Mr Prasad in Mr Pramod Mittal’s 1912 Standard Coventry. They complained about the traffic management and the condition of the city roads as it poses a great risk to the vintage and classic cars. The Editor and Managing Director of The Statesman, Mr Ravindra Kumar, thanked the participants and friends, adding: “Shortcomings in this year’s rally would be rectified next year.” The one of its kind event in the city ended but the wait for another rally next year began.

Soma Basu

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