Intelligent, witty and shining brighter than the Luxor Lamp in Las Vegas, Rupali Prakash is a charismatic young lady navigating her way confidently through a classic car world that rarely welcomes a woman’s perspective.
living in one of the fastest-growing tech nations on the planet, we caught up with the effervescent and busy family girl who is now one of the forward-thinking and essential cogs in the successful Bangalore ‘classic chase’ garage enterprise.
This is the story of a girl who ‘lives and loves’ her automotive dream, approaching every single day with enthusiasm and an enviable vibrance only the truly dedicated can imagine.
Rupali Prakash – Classic Chase
Q: We already have a snapshot of your background, but where did it all begin and how did you find yourself so connected to classic cars?
A: Growing up with them, being inducted to them as extensions of our family, at a very young age was what made this connect develop extremely organically. I live on a farm on the outskirts of the city. The farm is also home to our restoration centre/workshop/garage. Very early on seeing my father bring scraps and parts in bits and pieces wondering what he possibly had in mind. Then watching these transformations happen in front of our eyes made us emotionally invest in the journey. Once the cars came to life or while they were in the process of recovering it’s my mother’s gentle outlook towards them, personifying them that strengthened the relationship we shared with each and every one of them.
My sister and I being taken on rallies from the age of 2 and watching my mother and father drive and enjoy them with so much ease, led to the natural course of us diving head-on into the craziness.
Q: You mentioned your father and his classic obsession and vehicle dedication earlier. How did that filter down to you and were you always interested in them, even before? Or were you simply magnetised and drawn into the scene as he progressed?
A: The bond with each of our classics was always very strong. As I began to grow older and learn to drive, my interest only magnified exponentially. The feeling I get every time I sit behind the wheel, no matter what car it is, is something that’s very hard to articulate. Each of them has become an extension of me. Slowly with time, I found different ways to express my passion. One such way is through my art and illustrations which I use to create memorabilia like silk scarves and pocket squares with prints of Historic Vehicles through my brand Delali. I also help out with events my father organises across the country where my effort is to make it more inclusive to the younger generation. So before I knew it, I had got myself completely involved with everything I was doing.
Q: The ‘Classic Chase’ has a great feel, but was it thought of as a progression from the cars and who was the brains behind the thought process?
A: Classic Chase is my way of expressing my passion and extending it to a larger audience, moving beyond enthusiasts and getting more youth involved in the movement in order to be able to preserve and protect this dying passion for generations to come. It started about 7 years ago.
The business has 2 folds:
Classic Car Experiences: Here individuals from across the country get to be driven in a Classic Car of their choice by our team for a special occasion, a photoshoot or a personal experience. The connection you’re able to make with these beautiful cars when you touch and feel them and experience them first hand is remarkable.
I also create a dining experience in our garage for niche events and brand launches where people get to immerse in a setting surrounded by the Historic Wonders of the world. So I wanted to give more individuals an opportunity to build that bond and feel special even if they don’t own a classic.
Memorabilia: Under my brand Delali (www.thedelalistore.com) I create luxury silk scarves and pocket squares with my illustrations. I began to see two opportunities – since it’s a man’s world the products are always centred around men and the ones created for women are targeted towards hardcore enthusiasts.
So I decided to create something with beautiful fabric, vibrant colours and artistic illustrations of Historic Vehicles that any woman would love to wear. This is one of my initiatives to get more women involved.
I have my own line where I illustrate our Classic Car stories as well as create custom orders for Classic Car Clubs, Federations, events and even current car and motorcycle brands who are looking to bring their magnificent historic past to the forefront for their customers.
Q: What would be a typical day in the life of Rupali Prakash entail?
A: My day is filled with multiple different activities from an array of fields that seem drastically different from one another but to me are intrinsically intertwined. It’s this that’s led me to develop an unconventional and holistic perspective towards anything I do.
My day begins with meditation and some form of exercise, which I consider very essential in helping me ground and centre myself. The rest of the day is a combination of different forms of me engaging in things that I love which I am fortunate to also be able to call work.
So the day is divided into:
Illustrations: I spend time illustrating artwork such as posters and memorabilia for Classics Car events across the world. Or illustrating new designs for the Automotive Silk Scarves and pocket squares that I design for Delali.
Restoration: This segment involves time in the workshops checking on the restoration progress of different cars, parts that need to be sourced, upcoming events that need certain cars to get in shape and so on.
Organic Farming: My mother does organic farming where she supplies fresh organic fruits, vegetables and flowers to communities in the city we live in. So helping her with the farming practices, produce that needs to be grown, marketing and so on is another chunk of my day.
And finally, the day ends with time spent with my family and doing little things that make me reflect on all that I have to be grateful for before I sleep.
Q: The garage has a wonderful feel and presence to it with many beautiful cars which like us all need maintenance. Who carries out the tasks and services to keep these on the move?
A: We have a team of about 15 specialists ranging from mechanics, carpenters, tinkers, painters, upholsters, lathe specialists and assistants who help with the restoration and maintenance of the cars. We constantly send the cars out for different Classic Car Experiences along with the long drives and regular road trips that we go on, the cars get a good run.
Q: In the video, you obviously have a keen eye for design and era differences, but what’s your favourite in the garage to look at?
A: I’m a little partial to the British sports cars from the late 50s and 60s. So the Jaguar XK 140, E-Type, Triumph TR3, Austin Healey and even the Sunbeam Alpine are some of my favourites.
Q: Following on from the most satisfying to look at, which is the best to drive and is there one you use on a regular basis to drive around?
A: I love driving absolutely any car you give me because each of them has a different personality and it’s fun and challenging to get to know them. So whether you give me the 1900 De Dion Bouton, the 1907 Locomobile, the 55 TR3 or the 85 Alfa Romeo spider, I thoroughly enjoy driving all of them! That being said most recently the Alfa has really spoilt me on our road trips and has been absolutely effortless.
Q: Do any of the classic cars have more problems than others and if so which are the most mischievous?
A: Like I mentioned all of them have their personalities and temperaments. So every time you sit in a different Vintage or Classic Car you literally have to re-learn how to drive. Forget everything you thought you knew and start on a new journey with the companion who’s currently with you. Some are even named after their little tantrums or traits. For instance, the TR3 loves your complete attention, so if you don’t give her that, she’ll make sure to swing and sway all over the place hence she’s called ’Tipsy’.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of the business and how do you overcome such things?
A: I think the most challenging thing about restoration is getting highly skilled and experienced mechanics. It seems to be a dying art. So we are trying to work on getting the younger generation involved by exposing them to the world of restoration and getting India to see that there is a big demand as the love affair with Classics is still in the nascent stage and is rapidly growing in our country.
Q: The world is being faced with new and difficult challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic hits hard with lockdowns. Has it dampened your spirits and are you coping with the difficulties this has brought.
A: With every adversity comes an opportunity. With the cars and the workshop being on the farm where we live, we’ve now got far fewer distractions and far more time to spend with them and give them our undivided attention. We’ve even finally got to working on bringing our beautiful Morgan and Mannheim back to life. In fact, the time during the lockdown has really made me reflect back on my roots and passion leading to immense excitement in sharing my story which resulted in the most recent youtube video.
Q: On a lighter note, if you had an unlimited amount to spend on a particular classic car, which would you choose and why?
A: To say I’m content is an understatement. I feel more than grateful and blessed with all the beautiful four and two-wheeled members of our family. What we have is more than I could have dreamed off so I’m currently still pinching myself every single day trying to take in what’s in front of me.
Q: Finally, have you any plans to expand the collection and if so where do you source any additions from?
A: I think we have our hands more than full at the moment, with enough restoration projects to last a lifetime. But we never know the secret exciting plans brewing in my father’s mind. He generally sources cars from around the world.
You can visit Classic Chase via this link.
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