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Meet my Valentine - Men who love their machines

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ONE IN A BILLION

BOBBY JAYARAM AND HIS JAYARAM GT

The late AD Jayaram wanted a car that was perfect and unique. And he knew the only way to get it right was to build it himself. What you see here is his labour of love — the Jayaram GT — painstakingly hand-built from scratch in his garage at home. From every nut and bolt to every sheet of metal and coat of paint — it all has AD’s hand in it. And from that day in 1973, when she rolled on to Bangalore’s streets, to today, not a thing of the car has changed. Pratap ‘Bobby’ Jayaram, AD’s son, has made sure of this. He’s been so careful with the car that she hasn’t needed so much as a new coat of paint. Her 1.4-litre engine, complete with twin Webers, is mated to an eight-speed gearbox, of which four gears are electronically controlled. And when that engine is fired up, does this beauty make heads turn or what! Of course, she also plasters a wide grin across Bobby’s face. “This is the only car in my garage that will always remain unchanged,” he says as he looks at the Jayaram GT lovingly. We believe him. He’s been happy to love her just as she has been for close to 40 years now. And counting.

FIAT ACCOMPLI

BEHRAM DHABAR AND HIS 1988 PREMIER PADMINI

When somebody says, “My car is not for my service. I am for my car’s service,” you know that it’s a hopeless case. Imagine you are in love with this ideal woman, but she doesn’t exist. But what if you could make her come true? After 28 years of being stuck in his imagination, BLL 4919 has finally turned from a youthful dream into a reality. Dhabar acquired the car in 2004 and started building it to match his exacting, excruciating standards — scrounging around for parts, travelling across the country in search of them, spending after-work hours and weekends to put it together. Except for the bodyshell, the car's virtually all-new. It’s so new that it shouldn’t be driven, only seen! To say that this employee of Mahindra & Mahindra is in love with his Fiat is to say that Romeo and Juliet were seeing each other. You have to have a Parsi or two here, when it comes to automotive love affairs, right? Dhabar has since invested in three more Fiats — a 1964 Super Select with ‘suicide’ doors, a 1967 1100 Delite and a rare 1996 Padmini left-hand drive that was exported to the UAE and returned to India. But BLL 4919 remains the love of his life.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

MARESPAND DADACHANJI AND HIS 1948 MORRIS 8

It would be an injustice to call this Morris merely a ‘car’. For Marespand, vintage and classic car restorer (and a priest at a Parsi fire temple in Mumbai), this little automobile is a family member. It was acquired by his father Asphandiar Dadachanji (also a priest) in 1973, in Nagpur, and has been a much-loved part of the Dadachanji clan ever since. When his father was sent to Sri Lanka in 1980, to take over priestly duties at Colombo’s fire temple (yes, there is one), he drove the Morris from Nagpur to Colombo, via the ferry service from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka. A year later, after his duties had been completed, he drove the car back to Nagpur in the same manner! To give you an idea of just how hardy the Morris is, until 1992 the family didn’t have any other form of transport — the little 8 was a daily runner, and how! The mile-munching didn’t end there — in 2000, for a vintage and classic rally in Delhi, the car was driven all the way from Mumbai to Delhi, without breaking a sweat. In February 2005, we accompanied Marespand and the Morris from Mumbai to Udvada (the holiest place in India for Parsis) and back, making for a memorable story. This was the car that inspired Marespand to become a restorer.

REACHING FOR THE STAR

DNYANESH SAMANT AND HIS 1959 MERCEDES-BENZ 180

This Pontoon Merc was acquired by Dnyanesh’s family new, but over time, as it happens, was left for dead. It had virtually disintegrated in his garage in Mumbai, when Dnyanesh decided to do something about it — something everybody told him was a foolhardy attempt. He decided to resuscitate the family heirloom. “I removed bucketfuls of rust,” he says. He recalls an emotional moment, “The towing van struggled to move it, as it refused to leave. When it eventually emerged, my aunt burst into tears.” The 180 then went through a no-expenses spared, ground-up restoration — right down to the details, like the grainless red leather, mouse-fur roof lining, Bakelite contacts and points. Assisting Dnyanesh was his friend Amol Nayak, who himself was an owner of a diesel 180. Together, they brought the Pontoon back to life and the car is today as good as new. The W120 series of Mercedes-Benz models, introduced in 1953, is historically significant and it’s tough to see a better example than this one in the country. It was, to use the cliché, a labour of love.