A classic car always draws attention to itself. It’s a given….. few can ignore the classic styling details, cavernous interiors, oodles of chrome and in some cases loud, fire-breathing big displacement engines. However, for every classic car in running condition is a garage or restoration centre working tirelessly to keep the car so and we got a look behind the scenes.
Located in a nondescript mill compound in Lower Parel, Classic Car Redux run by Rajiv Javeri, is a very new operation – he’s only had it up and running for a year – though he has been operating on classic cars for over a decade using contacts with garages to run his business till this point. At the time of our visit, we were lucky enough to get our eyes on a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, a menacing muscle car from an era when fuel economy was unheard of. The car was only in for a brief check-up and to get the AC up and running – something you really need nowadays in Mumbai.
Alongside the beauty rested a 1969 Ferrari 356, in for a rather heavy mechanical overhaul while at the back sat the bare bones of a grounds-up restoration project – a 1962 W111 Mercedes 220SE.
Rajiv told us that his interest in cars stemmed from his teenage years when he got his first car. He also gave us a list of classics he personally owned at one point which included the formidable 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, a 1960 Fiat 1200 Spyder and a 1954 Plymouth convertible though he couldn’t quite remember the model name.
Now remember back in the day anything could go wrong with cars – today's reliability standards are worlds apart from those in the mid-1900s. Wanting to look after his own cars back in the day, he would often sit with mechanics and follow them at work picking up on the art of repairing classics. He told us how he picked up on the art of ‘jugaad’ – sourcing parts from locally available cars to act as replacements for original components unavailable in the country or fabricating replacements from bare metal. You need to remember back in the day there was no internet and the Indian economy wasn’t as open.
As he got more proficient working on his own cars, friends came in with requests to help do up their cars and from there things caught on and he went into the business of restoring cars. While he originally hopped from garage to garage to get work done it often lead to slow progress as garage owners tended to put their own projects before others. This leads up to 2016 when Rajiv opened his own garage and hired his own staff to save on time.
So next time you see some well restored well-sorted hero of yesteryear cruising through the streets on a Sunday morning, know that there is a mechanic somewhere in your town that has dedicated weeks if not months worth of work to keep it in that condition.