India is one of the fastest-growing tech nations but the Delhi youngsters have more than just laptops, WhatsApp and smartphones on their inquisitive minds as creative teenagers embrace the classic car and historical vehicle scene.
Whilst holding their General Council in Bangalore, FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens or international federation of historic vehicles), discovered the Indian passion for classics has now reached epidemic levels, boasting a ‘love affair’ with historical vehicles.
FIVA President Patrick Rollet:
“We can learn a great deal from what’s happening in India right now when it comes to attracting young people into the historic vehicle movement.
“India is a country where the ‘love affair with the automobile’ is a more recent phenomenon than in the West, and it’s truly heartening to see the groundswell of enthusiasm for historic vehicles among younger Indians – at a time when European enthusiasts are worried that classics will increasingly be seen as something for the older generation.
“Our meeting was held in Bangalore alongside a symposium organised by the Delhi-based Osianama Learning Experience and the Federation of Historic Vehicles of India (FHVI) – the first of its kind in Asia – aimed at encouraging even more young people and women to get involved in the historic vehicle movement. The energy and enthusiasm of the participants, in a country that’s at an exciting point in the development of its historic vehicle community, is a joy to see.”
Much like the UK, India has embraced the social media surrounding the classic car scene, with informal groups and meets developing rapidly across various cities. A prime example is Classic Drivers of Calcutta (CDC), as a young entrepreneur and enthusiast Souvik Ghose Chaudhuri describes:
“CDC was founded in 2017 with only three members but we now have 98 owners in the group, with 15% being ‘first-timers’ and almost half under the age of 35. But importantly, we also have 500-plus members on Facebook and Instagram who may or may not currently own a historic vehicle.
“To ‘catch them young’, it’s important to create communities around historic vehicles – non-competitive, fun social events to attract newcomers, such as movie screenings and garage days, plus extensive use of social media and workshops. It’s working. We’re seeing younger people, most of them ‘first-timers’, acquiring classics, while our members seem to be overcoming the absence of culture and have taken to working on their vehicles themselves! The future is bright.”
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5 Indian Car Facts:
- The first car to be manufactured in India was the Hindustan Ambassador, which was largely based on the Morris Oxford
- The Tata Indica was the first ‘homegrown’ car to be built in the country
- The first ‘rag-top’ in India was manufactured by Standard in 1965 and based on the Triumph Herald
- The first motorsport event in India took place at the Sholavaram track in Chennai
- Mahindra & Mahindra were the first to build Willy’s Jeep in India in 1949
Interestingly, focusing on women has proved another key factor, as female race and rally driver Farah Vakil, explains:
“Women are starting to take the lead in demystifying the classic automobile, seen by many as an untouchable realm of the wealthy and privileged man. Up till now, Indian women’s role in historic vehicle circles has been as the wives and daughters of collectors but that’s changing.
“Women in India today are financially and socially empowered, and we don’t need to have classics passed onto us as family heirlooms, as we can acquire them independently – sourcing them abroad, if necessary, and importing them. We are becoming instrumental in widening the appreciation of these cars, keeping it informal and unstructured – an outing in our cars, a picnic perhaps – without the heavy organisation and expense of a formal event.”
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