Vintage cars are the surprise driving force in an India and Pakistan peace rally

The only thing stopping the cross-border coming together of men and machine is red tape

Share

It is Sunday morning and Deepak Marwah and his son Raghav are carefully navigating their gleaming 1947 Pontiac Silver Streak along a twisting road south of Delhi. There are a couple of wrong turns but we get to where we are heading and the passengers in the back seat discover that riding in this 67-year-old wonder is as comfortable as sitting on a sofa.

“I’ve had the car for 15 years,” Mr Marwah says of his American car, which happens to be coloured British racing green.

The drive was a bit of fun. But next month, Mr Marwah and other members of the Heritage Motoring Club of India are hoping to accomplish something rather more ambitious – a road trip to Pakistan.

If all goes to plan – it remains if – 100 members intend to drive a convoy of 40 classic cars and 10 motorbikes across the Pakistan border. On the other side they will be met by 30 classic cars owned by Pakistani enthusiasts who will escort them to Lahore.

“My family were originally from Peshawar,” says Mr Marwah, 55, who owns a film and television studio. “But this will be my first trip to Pakistan.”

There is more to the trip than fun though. The members believe that people-to-people contact can work where government-to-government contact may not.

“This contact is extremely important,” says Atul Anand, who owns an IT business in Delhi and who plans to make the journey in a 1949 tomato red MG Y-type.

Mr Anand’s family originally came from Lalamusa, a town in what is now Pakistan’s Punjab province. He said he had a number of Pakistani friends and had visited on several occasions. He is hoping he will be accompanied by his father, who is aged 98.

The enthusiasts plan to drive 30 miles from the Indian city of Amritsar along a recently upgraded section of the Grand Trunk Road to the border crossing at Wagah. From there it is around 20 miles to Lahore. Deepak Marwah and his son Raghav with their 1947 Pontiac Silver Streak Deepak Marwah and his son Raghav with their 1947 Pontiac Silver Streak

Their counterparts on the other side, members of the Vintage and Classic Car Club of Pakistan, are equally passionate. Last month, the club held an event that involved members driving  1,700 miles from Karachi to Peshawar.

Among those taking part was Karim Chhapra, a Karachi industrialist who has among his collection of cars a 1924 silver Rolls-Royce Ghost, originally built for the Nawab of Bhawalpur. It is said the vehicle was used to drive Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, to the Sindh Assembly building in Karachi on 14 August 1947 to formally announce the country’s birth.

The only thing stopping the cross-border coming together of men and machines is red tape. The VCCCP’s president Mohsin Ikram told me from Karachi that previous attempts had failed because the two sides could not get the necessary clearance for the vehicles.

He said the club’s influential members had been busy trying to secure approval and had reached out to the office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, himself a classic car enthusiast who owns a 1974 Mercedes Benz 450 SLC. “We are trying to make it happen,” he said.

Mr Ikram owns 10 vintage and classic cars. Next month he plans to drive a 1947 Lincoln Continental Convertible. And if the notorious bureaucracy means the two clubs don’t get permission, he has a fall-back plan.

“We will ask the Indian members to cross the border on foot where we will then be waiting for them,” he said. “We will then drive them into Lahore in our vehicles and have a show  for them.”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Peter Mandelson first resigned from the cabinet on 23 December 1998  

2015's dim-sum index has too many courses

John Rentoul
One in seven British beer buyers bought non-alcoholic varieties in 2013  

A booze-free Christmas: It would have been more socially acceptable to spark up a crack pipe

Fiona Sturges
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015