Though I don’t drive cars I have always had a fascination for them. So when Intach Bangalore announced an Automobile History Parichay (Vintage Car Heritage Walk), I was quick to grab the opportunity. INTACH [Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage] holds a Heritage Walk (Parichay) every month usually around places of historical importance. And when they announce a walk, seats get filled in no time. So I must count myself extremely lucky to have got into this first-of-its-kind walk.
Designed to mark World Automobile Day, which falls on January 29, the walk was at Kala Farms, home to one of the country’s largest vintage car collection owned by Dr Ravi Prakash, a cardiothoracic surgeon turned vintage car collector. A national racing champion in the 1980s, Dr Ravi Prakash quit the medical profession and car racing to pursue his passion – collecting vintage cars. It all started with a vintage car that was willed to him. Over the years, his fleet of cars has been steadily growing and he now has around 225 of them some of which are in mint condition. And he doesn’t stop at cars. In his sprawling estate, you will also find motorbikes, cycles, scooters, palanquins, pull carts, carriages, clocks, miniature models of cars, books and a lot of bric-à-brac most of them from a bygone era.
Dr Ravi Prakash’s wife Sabina and daughters Roopali and Shefali share his passion for all things vintage. They have participated in major vintage car shows around the world including the prestigious Pebble Beach Vintage Car Show and have as big a collection of trophies and prizes as the number of cars. Dr Ravi Prakash proudly recalls the moment when he was the only one at the Pebble Beach show who had two cars participating one of which was driven by his daughter Roopali. She was the youngest driver at the event and she drove the oldest car at the show.
The slew of cars each of which belong to various periods of time is housed in large garages around the farm. Brands include Mercedes Benz, Austin Healey, Sunbeam, Peugeot, Rolls Royce, Lincoln, Ford, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Willys-Knight, Mini Cooper, Plymouth, Austin of England, Studebaker and more. Some of the companies are now defunct. A team of mechanics are on their toes all the time tending to the cars and bikes. Not all the cars and bikes have come to the farm in good condition. A majority of them have been restored with restoration costs ranging from thousands of rupees to several lakhs. For many of the cars, parts have to be procured from abroad. So you see, maintaining these automobiles is no easy task; it involves a lot of hard work and patience and is a very expensive hobby.
Dr Ravi Prakash is at present busy with the construction of a vintage car museum in the city. The museum which when complete would be the first of its kind in the country and would showcase all the cars in his collection as well as cars belonging to other vintage car enthusiasts.
The fleet of cars has also been the toast of film-makers. Many of them have been featured in films. The vintage cars in Kamal Haasan’s ‘Hey Ram’ were all from Dr Ravi Prakash’s collection.
Prominent among the cars in the collection are ones that were owned by famous Kannada poet Kuvempu, late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MG Ramachandran, the former Maharaja of Darbhanga, and another by Feroze Gandhi’s sister.
The family also has a love for dogs. The gang of 20 odd canines in the farm include Mudhol Hounds and Labradors.The green estate is also dotted with plant nurseries.
Have a look at some more vintage beauties from the mesmerising and very colourful collection:
It is difficult to take your eyes off them 🙂