The Car Fable

We all have seen how a brand new car excites a family, but soon loses its appeal in a few months. But the Kapur family's vintage car is seeing better days now owing to their immense fascination and pride in this heirloom...

By: Karishma Parkash Suri & Soumya Jain

Posted on: April 10, 2012

We all have seen how a brand new car excites a family, but soon loses its appeal in a few months. But the Kapur family’s vintage car is seeing better days now owing to their immense fascination and pride in this heirloom…

“How many people are fortunate enough to be reunited with an old 'family member' like this, and that too after 72 years? This beats the Bollywood stories of yesteryears when brothers would be reunited after being separated at birth,” said Mrs Veena Kapur. And she is quite right in saying that. After all, getting back the family car was no small thing.

The fable goes like this. A Chevrolet Convertible 1930 Phantom 6-cylinder car was bought by Rai Bahadur Nihal Singh Kapur, Chief Justice of Bikaner High Court for a price of Rs 900 in 1930. Maharaja Ganga Singhji of Bikaner had set up Rajasthan’s first High Court and Rai Bahadur Nihal Singh Kapur was appointed as its first Chief Justice. It tingles your senses to see a 1930 picture of him in his car. The car’s number plate read BKN-2 (since BKN-1 was for the Prime Minister of Bikaner). It was a unique sight to see him going to Court, chauffeur-driven, in that grand car. For him, too, it was a new experience, having travelled in horse-drawn carriages all his life. He, however, sold the car in1940 for Rs 300.

It was quite a miracle when the car was found rotting in the garage of a Rajput gentleman from Jaipur in May 2011, and purchased by Brigadier Pratap Singh Kapur, V.S.M., the grandson of Late Rai Bahadur Nihal Singh Kapur. “To have in my possession a car that belonged to my grandfather is indeed a matter of great pride for me. As a young boy I have sat in it with my grandfather and to think that my grandchildren and their children will play in it gives me immense pleasure,” Brigadier Kapur said.

Showering a multitude of love and care on this beautiful car, Ravi Kapur, brother of Brigadier Pratap Singh Kapur dedicated about a year to restore the car painstakingly with his own hands. “I have sat with mistris and cleaned parts with my own hands in Jaipur and Bareilly. It was in a very bad condition when we got it and we set about the task little by little. I have personally been to US to collect some spare parts from the original manufacturers. Some parts, that are no longer available, we had to fabricate here. I have seen some online guides to restoration and tried to follow those guidelines. Most parts are either original or shaped and cast to match the original. More parts keep coming even now to make it more authentic. I intend to make it almost completely authentic with original Chevrolet parts and make it win a prize at the next vintage car rally,” he said.

Indeed, this illustrious car has already participated in the 14th Vintage & Classic Car Rally, which was hosted in Jaipur in February 2012, alongside cricketer Anil Kumble’s Audi 100. Rahul Kapur, Brigadier Kapur’s son, took part in the rally and drove the car. He said, “I drove it during the rally with my father, son, brother and sister-in-law sitting in it. The feeling cannot be described. We went back in time in another era and realized the value of family and togetherness and what we really leave behind for our children.” He dreams of restoring the car authentically to win the prize for the best restoration at the next rally in Jaipur. Taking it outside Jaipur is not an option though since it ay damage the vehicle.

It goes without saying that the entire family is smitten by the car. Tanay Kapur, a close family member says, “We love it and cherish it as a family member. It is one of us and will be for time immemorial. We take a ride in it every now and then… It’s a very special feeling. It’s family.”

Hearing Brigadier Kapur’s feelings about the car assures you that it’s not just a metallic piece of show-off for the family, but indeed a valuable companion to them all. “We give a lot to our children and grandchildren, but this is like giving a part of our history, our heritage. I intend to bequeath this to my grandson and hope he will consider it as a family heirloom and pass it on for posterity,” he says fondly.

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