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

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: A night out to show I’m still Rebecca as well as a carer

Rebecca Armstrong
Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman leaving The High Court  

Lutfur Rahman has devalued the struggle for racial justice and equality, and I hate him for it

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions