Ashvek Vintage World-Goa’s First and Only Vintage Car Museum! Reporting from Goa with an exclusive interview with the owner, Pradeep V Naik
Mangaluru: Old is gold and vintage is priceless. Be it your childhood possession or a car. Here is a cruise through the ins and outs of vintage cars and how to keep them sparkling and chugging. Some things look better with age and Ashvek Vintage World (AVW) – Goa’s first and only vintage car museum- bears testimony to that. Setup in July 2004, AVW completes successful 12 years this year, and the brainchild Pradeep V. Naik says that he started this Vintage Car Museum to spread awareness about vintage cars amongst the youth, and to serve as an education on old cars, because there is an urgent need to preserve motoring treasures for posterity. He burns with the passion of inculcating a love and respect for these old beauties which he feels has withered away due to neglect.
Renting a two-wheeler at Margao, I rode to Nuvem, Salcete in that scorching heat during the afternoon hours, where I met Pradeep V Naik, who was kind enough to give me a tour around his small museum. ‘Ashvek Vintage World’ is a Vintage Car Museum situated in Nuvem, Salcete-Goa, on the highway between Margao and Panjim. It is Goa’s first and only vintage car museum that showcases over a dozen vintage cars sourced from Goa or neighboring areas like Kholapur, Belgaum and Sawantwadi. AVW takes up restoration and preservation of vintage cars and some of the cars restored here are in excellent working condition and can be hired out for weddings, movie shoots or simply for joy rides. Some of the restored classics are a 1931 Peugeot, a 1948 Chevrolet Fleet Master, a rare two-engine Vandall tempo, a 1961 Datsun Fairlady, Morris 8 and 1939 Mercedes 170 which are currently on display. They also undertake restoration of vintage cars belonging to other owners. The money sourced from this is reinvested in maintaining new and existing cars. AVW is also a pioneer in organizing vintage car rallies in Goa, including the Volkswagen Rally and the IFFI Rally.
Ashvek Vintage World! At present there are 16 vintage cars displayed at the museum. When you enter this gallery, the first thing that strikes you is that the place conjures up an aura of the grandeur of a bygone era. This place is dedicated to restoring and preserving classics of yore. All these beauties have been reconditioned painstakingly from scrap. Such cars are just dust for us, but they are worth their weight in gold for the owner of the gallery, Pradeep V Naik. At the start of my tour of this galleria par excellence, Pradeep showed me a unique machine. The uniqueness of the vehicle lies in the fact that it has a double engine – one engine in front and one at the back. The Tempo G1200 was born in Hamburg in 1927, designed by Otto Daus, and produced as a private venture by Vidal and Sohn of Hamburg. This beast is an off road vehicle with two engines and a 4-wheel drive and was built especially for the Wehrmacht. In 1934, a tempo broke the speed record for 1000 km with an average speed of 34 kmph.
Among the plethora of vehicles, Pradeep’s eyes lit up when we approached that marvelous Mercedes Benz 170. This vehicle, built in 1939, was featured in the movie ‘The Sea Wolves”, and also in an LG ad. The car belonged to the maharaja of Sawantwadi and was pampered and looked after at Vintage World. Another beauty on display is the 3-cylinder DKW 1959. Pradeep is also the proud owner of a 1931 Peugeot 301. The 4-cylinder Peugeot, with its gangloff body, striking nose, and exquisite one side headlights, makes it a must-have for vintage collectors. This beauty happens to be the vintage vehicle Pradeep acquired, a vehicle which further fuelled his passion for classic cars. It belonged to the Maharaja of Sawantwadi, who in turn donated it to Satam Maharaj.
Now for the vehicles belonging to the same company. Pradeep has a 1940 Morris 8 and a Morris Oxford, besides the Morris 1962 Monir. The latter is a 4 door saloon, tower estate car (1098 cc) with more power and stronger 48-bhp engine which boasts of a top speed in high 70’s and has a more robust gear box. He also owns a robust and reliable Chevrolet Fleetmaster and a 6-cylinder Chevrolet Belair. The 1928 Essex Super Six has a 6-cylinder, 55bhp engine with an awesome 2637 cc. This car was originally equipped with wooden spokes, which were unfortunately burnt, and were therefore replaced with steel spokes, Pradeep explains.
Then, there is the awesome 1961 Opel Kapitan. By 1928, Opel was the largest car producer in Germany and is today, the driving force behind GM’s potent presence in Europe. Finally, we reach the oh-so well known Volkswagen. He has two VW’s, a 1956 and 1960 model. In addition to collection cars, Pradeep also restores vehicles (which however are not on display at World Vintage). He informed me about two such vehicles – a Datsun Fair Lady and a Baby Austin 1928. Both these vehicles, which now belong to Jaywant Chowgule, were in written-off condition, but were revived to their present, almost mint condition. At the museum there is also a white stretch beetle on which Naik got India’s famous cartoonist Goan Mario Miranda’s iconic caricatures painted.
When asked how he got into the hobby of collecting vintage cars, Pradeep Naik replied saying, “It was on one rosy day in the year 1970 that my uncle drove home in a new Mercedes Benz which he purchased it for Rs 5000. I flinched saying to him that it was a waste of money. Once again when my uncle bought the wooden-bodied Portuguese Carrera, I again yelled at him for wasting money on such cars. But my car-hate ended when I was bewitched by a 1931 black Peugeot 311- I quickly signed a cheque for Rs 3000, paid Rs 8000 as RTO tax, and brought the black beauty home. From that day onwards, I got hooked to vintage cars and I am still in love for vintage cars”. Naik owns every Mercedes model made between 1939 and 2012, and presently he cruises around in his 2012 black Mercedes C Class, and chuckles about that rosy day in the 1970s when he subsisted on the frugal thought that buying expensive cars was a “criminal waste of money”. Smilingly he said, ” These days I walk or drive around always with a cheque book in me, ready to buy any vintage car, however dented, broken, without paint or in a disaster condition. No matter what, If I like it , I will buy it?”
Naik further said, ” Any car manufactured before 1940 is a vintage car and the cars which are manufactured between the years 1941-1960 are called classics, all this is provided they are imported, important and rare. These motoring beauties are a wonder of their own kind. Owning a vintage car is a matter of pride but what about maintenance? To maintain a car is expensive and to source spares for these cars is a Herculean task. The smallest nut-bolt may cost Rs. 10 but to get it done to its original specification may cost Rs.100. The cost that affects one’s pocket is when you are actually spending money hunting for the spare parts. Starting in Goa, the hunt may even take you as far as Mumbai or Bangalore to source spares.”
“This whole process of maintaining a car is like that of bringing up a child. The pains you go through gives you the final satisfaction of seeing it grow. In order to maintain a car in running condition one has to see that the car is started every week and taken for a small round to prevent the brake system from getting jammed. This also keeps the battery charged. With regards to awareness, there has been an increasing passion for vintage cars and a lot of awareness has been created with the help of vintage rallies. People have realized after witnessing the rally that these old cars could be brought back to its original glory. They can also fetch a good price or be used for an enjoyable ride down memory lane.” added Pradeep.
Other than the vintage cars stacked in his museum, Naik has an enviable collection of miniature cars, like Mercedes convertibles in one locked showcase, and a miniatures of all Beetle models ever made by Volkswagen, plus has large collection of key rings, belt buckles, archaic ceramic signages of Tyre companies that are no longer used. The museum also has a old Vijay Super Scooter, a Rajdoot and Royal Enfield motorcycles.
And if you want to see these beauties, you can head for the showroom which is at Nuvem-Salcete-Goa. The museum is open all days from 9 am to 6 pm except for Sundays. For more details and directions to get there call : 0832-2731312 or 9822100339 (Pradeep V Naik) Email : firstname.lastname@example.org