It's very rare to find people from all countries, including Russia, the US and Europe, under a single roof. But there is one place near Palakkad where you can find vehicles from some of these countries at one place. Russian ZIL-131 diesel truck, Chevrolet Biscayne, Dodge and Austin A40 -- the list of vintage vehicles at Naveen's house near Kanjikode toll plaza is long and distinguished.
Nine years ago, Fast Track had published an article on college student Naveen's small vintage collection. Now, Naveen's garage has around 40 heritage cars including some rare models. "The vehicles I used to get initially had no originality. When I understood the importance of preserving their originality, I avoided such models," says Naveen.
His vintage collection includes cars used by yesteryear actors Jose Prakash and K R Vijaya, the complete lineup of all Ambassador models, and the Contessa used by the late prime minister A B Vajpayee. The other cars include a 1951 Fiat Topolino, 1959 Fiat Select, 1974 Fiat President, 1964 Standard Herald, 1960 Standard Pennant, a made in England 1955 Standard 8 (left-hand drive), 1951 Model Hillman, Hindustan 14, 1957 Landmaster, March 2, 1964 Willys high bonnet jeep, 1985 Maruti deluxe model (factory fitted) and 1957 model Bullet, among others. Ninety per cent of the vehicles are in running condition. Some models are in workshop; he has a workshop at home itself. It has been 15 years since Naveen started his friendship with vintage vehicles.
All vehicles will be switched on frequently. They are covered to keep them dust-free. Naveen is also a member of Ooty Vintage Club and Pollachi Heritage Club. Considering the extensive collection of vintage cars and their care, Global University conferred honorary doctorate on Naveen in 2019. His parents Dr Dhanalakshmi and Duraisami too love vintage vehicles. Naveen also restores vintage vehicles for close friends and club members.
Some of the rare models in his collection are:
The 1967 model Russian SIL 131 diesel truck served in the Indian military for an extensive period. It's a six-wheel drive with power steering. Only three of them survives in Kerala today. Naveen got the truck through an Army auction. A left-hand drive, the truck weighs 3.5 tonnes and can serve as a platform for rocket launchers. It has two diesel tanks with a 250-litre capacity.
1964 Dodge 440 Limited Edition
Actor Jose Prakash was the first owner of the car. There is only one such car in Kerala. Imported from the US, it's a left-hand drive and has power steering. It also has an AC. The 17-foot car can easily accommodate six passengers.
1961 Chevrolet station wagon
Thorough American. The 18-foot car can easily take in 10 people in its three rows of seats. One of the first MPV models, it is also known as nomad wagon. It is powered by a 4,600 cc 8-cylinder engine. It had taken part in the Grand National Roadster Show in California.
1965 Chevrolet Biscayne
The Biscayne was owned by actor K R Vijaya. It has an in-line, six-cylinder 3,900 cc petrol engine under its hood. The 18-foot car could accommodate six passengers. It has a three-speed, column shift gear and has air conditioning.
1965 Benz 190D (Fintail)
The right-hand drive car is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine and has a four-speed column-shift gear. The front wheels have disc brakes. But there is no power steering. The speedometer has a tape-type design; until 70 kmph the speedo will be yellow in colour and above 70 kmph it will be in red.
1952 Morris Minor
The budget car of yore. It is also a single-owner model and had a price tag of Rs 4,000 then. Assembled in India, it is a right-hand drive with 800 cc, four-cylinder, side-valve petrol engine with a four-speed gearbox. It has power steering and has a top speed of 80kmph.
1971 Morris Oxford Series 6
The key highlight of the car is the heater blower that comes in handy during winter. It is powered by a 1600 cc, four-cylinder petrol engine. The right-hand drive model has column-shift gear and can accommodate six persons. Hydraulic clutch is another highlight of the car.
1947 Austin 8
The Austin 8 has narrow tyres similar to those of motorcycles. Instead of indicator lights, it has trafficators to show signal. Two flags on both sides protrude from the body to indicate a turn. Trafficators are often located in the middle. The car can be switched on using a key or a hand crank. It has a 800 cc engine with a four-speed gearbox.
1935 Austin 10
The Austin 10 is the oldest model in Naveen's collection. It has a side-valve, 1048 cc, four-cylinder petrol engine. Imported from England, the Austin 10 is a soft-top convertible and also has spoke wheels.
1951 Austin A40 Devon
The Austin A40 Devon has a 1350 cc petrol engine and column-shift gears. The sedan has bucket seats and trafficator signals.
It's an original left-hand drive. The four-wheel drive is still in good working condition.
1948 Morris 8E Series
It is also known as Bulldog Morris. The car has a side-vale, 750 cc petrol engine.
1955 Fiat Millecento
A single-owner car. All parts are Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The wheel discs have no slots and have aluminium flat wheel caps. Naveen obtained it from Pollachi.