Old classic cars and some New York jazz at HCAI’s latest in Mamallapuram
Historical Cars Association of India’s latest car show featured classic models whose counterparts had starred in Hollywood films
On Sunday afternoon, a string of vintage cars stood proud in Mamallapuram’s Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay — not in the parking lot, but inside a sprawling lobby, by a sun-baked swimming pool and on grassy tree-lined lawns. It was a closed event, and these restored, glittering machines of the past were the guests of honour.
A sky blue Chevrolet 1955 Bel Air with sleek white wings stood in sunny contrast under blooming pink bougainvilleas. An Elvis impersonator mixed cocktails nearby as the real deal crooned ‘Let me be your teddy bear’ over the sound system, completing the time travel effect. Indoors, an Audrey Hepburn lookalike strutted past a sleek grey Chrysler New Yorker, a car whose counterpart had enjoyed a brief moment of fame in the classic Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
A few steps ahead, a red Alfa Romeo 1961 stands, enjoying a stage all to itself before a winding staircase, and flanked by a board detailing the car’s role in Fred Zinnemann’s 1973 film The Day Of The Jackal — a thriller, which recreated an assassination attempt on Charles de Gaulle.
The exhibition featured 25 cars owned by enthusiasts from across India, each with a connection to a Hollywood film of the era. This is not the first time that the Historical Cars Association of India (HCAI) has shown off its impressive classic car collection. However, it is the first event that the association has held outside Chennai, and Ranjit Pratap, HCAI president, hopes to take the association to Hyderabad and other cities in South India soon.
“We started early last year, and wanted to go out to various metros in South India, and do shows with [car enthusiast] clubs that cannot afford to do shows by themselves. This concept is only to instigate these clubs to do their shows. We will give them the financial support,” says Pratap.
The association held its maiden show in September 2020, in Chennai. The show in Mamallapuram featured other recogniseable models like the Volkswagen camper van, the Beetle and the sleek, quintessential Jaguar E Type — famous not only for its presence in films like Harold and Maude, but also for being owned by celebrities like Steve McQueen. Also drawing crowds were lesser-known, but sizeable beasts like the Studebaker Champion Bullnose, and a gleaming bottle-green Jaguar Mark IV.
As the beer poured, the sun shined and waves crashed, Ella Fitzgerald did an encore of her classic ‘Dancing cheek to cheek’, and for a moment the cars looked like they were back in their glory days.