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India is not new to foreign cars. When the British ruled over the country, there was a regular influx of foreign cars. Nevertheless, these cars were always owned by the elite and they were much out of the reach of the middle class. Some of the most popular cars that adorned the Indian roads were the Morris cars, Dodge, Rolls Royce etc. When you visit the palaces of Rajas and Maharajas of Rajasthan and other places, you can take a look at their car collection which has been laid out on display for visitors. Such is the craze for vintage cars and heritage cars in India that several cities hold an annual vintage car show and rally even.
If you are a resident of Delhi and an avid lover of cars, you can take a detour and head into Haryana instead of Rajasthan for seeing vintage cars on display. Taoru was a quaint town in Haryana was not on the tour itinerary of any tourist till last December, when TarunThakral opened up a Heritage Transport Museum here. Based in Delhi, Thakral’s venture is the first one of its kind that is not owned by the royalty. The cars on display are from his collection, which he began in 1994. Thakral started the Heritage Transport Museum not only to showcase his collection but also how transport evolved in India.
The Heritage Transport Museum is unique in its own way because it not only showcases cars that are intact but also shows the evolution of car parts. You can see handlebars of motorcycles being converted into door handles and headlights the size of automotive bulbs. You can also spot a reception desk made out of the Morris Minor! Inside the museum, you would spot every kind of transportation vehicle that you have seen on Indian roads, from bikes to classic cars, buses, scooters, horse drawn carriages to bullock carts and palanquins even. A railway coach from a Jodhpur Saloon of the year 1930 has been reconstructed and made to sit on its own platform that has also been decorated like a platform of the bygone era. What’s more is that there is a Piper J3C 1940 cub airplane that has been hung from the roof.
There are several sections in the museum such as railway, non-mechanised and aviation segments but what is most exciting is the vintage car section. The cars are not displayed like they are in regular vintage car displays. Instead a particular time period is created and numerous vehicles that belong to it are displayed in a cluster. For example, the period of 1965 is recreated and on the street is parked a Fiat 1100, Standard Herald and the first edition of the Volkswagen Beetle. The Landmaster 1954 and the Hindustan Twelve 1948 have also been clubbed together on display. The Ambassador looks a lot special here as it was special back then because it was not used by government officials solely or taxi cabs.
However, what is most impressive in this line up of vintage cars is the American manufactures whose collection is the best here. The oldest vehicle in the museum is the 1932 Chevrolet Phaeton. Like the other vehicles in the museum, this too is in perfect running order. There is also a Plymouth Belvedere 1959 on display which has got find large enough to give a regular white shark a run for its money. However, most motor enthusiasts would find the Chevrolet Impala 1960 the most attractive. The car is comparable to the Audi Q7 of today’s times and was a pop pick for film stars. The car looks glamorous and massive and fits the bill of what an American vehicle should look like.
Among the Oldsmobiles, Dodges and Chevrolets, there is a Ford waiting patiently for your attention. The Ford FairlineSkyliner 500 is on display where with its retractable hood paused midway at the time of operation. It can amaze quite a few visitors to think that retractable hard roof top cars were available in 1957. However, the retractable hood is not quite space saving as you see it on the BMW Z4 of today’s times because of the simpler mechanics. The rood was actually divided into two and folded into the body of the car.
The Heritage Transport Museum has a policy called “Adopt a Car” where you can contribute to the fixing of a vintage car displayed at the museum. It is a good endeavour on the part of the museum to get people involved in their ventures. As a part of the restoration programme a decrepit Buick Limousine from the 1935 series has been placed here and you can contribute to fixing it. The museum also has its share of garrulous vehicles such as the Sunrise Badal which has a body made of fibre glass with four doors and three wheels, made back in 1935.
The museum is highly alluring to those in love with automobiles. There are many vehicular memorabilia and automobile art strewn about here. It’s not only about car models but also advertisements of cars back in 1930s, decanters in the shape of car grilles and also a complete simulation of an olden day petrol pump has been placed on display. A particular section has been dedicated to toy cars and also models of car systems that work still. The museum, in its attempt to make the exhibit more enriching, it is open to including transportation history supplied by visitors and contributors. The look of the Heritage Transport Museum is slated to be changed every few months so that more exhibits can be included.
To reach the Heritage Car Museum in Taoru in Haryana, you have to drive 60 kilometres away from Delhi. Start off on the National Highway 8 and take a left turn to the Major District Road number 132 which is at the BilaspurChowk. By going 7 kilometres further, you can reach the museum. It is bound to be worth your time and effort and money. The entry fee for adults is Rs 300 whereas for children below the age of 12 years, it is Rs 150 only.
If you have a vintage used car in Delhi, you can contact the museum to put it on display.