If you like frequenting Bangalore’s periodic vintage car rallies and gawk at the gleaming chrome and steel beauties on display, chances are that you would have bumped into Dr Ravi Prakash, (batch 1976)a cardiothoracic surgeon-turned-vintage car collector. Impeccably clad, exuding enthusiasm and bonhomie, Prakash is a familiar figure at any event associated with vintage motor vehicles.
A national racing champion in the 1980s, Prakash quit the medical profession and car racing to pursue his passion of collecting vintage cars. Since he first acquired a 1937 Sunbeam Talbot back in 1979, his collection has absorbed all his time and energy turning even his family—wife Sabeena and daughters Rupali and Shefali—into enthusiasts.
He encouraged his daughters’ interest in vintage cars from a young age and the entire family has travelled across the world to attend vintage car shows. Prakash says one of the proudest moments in his life was at Pebble Beach, California, in 2012, when his daughters became the youngest drivers to ever lead the parade. “A 22-year-old driving a 105-year-old car,” he beams.
Now his elder daughter Rupali is expanding this family hobby into a business venture. Taking inspiration from Mini Coopers and Royal Enfield motorbike, Rupali makes and sells a range of merchandise, including T-shirts, laptop sleeves and cushion covers under the label Roadster (facebook.com/roadsterindia). “My mission is to create an awareness of these beautiful, timeless machines among young people—both boys and girls. I want my generation to truly understand how precious and special these cars are and preserve them for the future,” she says. “It was such an honour when my family was invited to Pebble Beach. It has been my father’s lifelong dream to enter this competition, and we were among the few Indians ever invited. An added honour was to be able to drive a 1907 Locomobile with my sister at the event.”
Passing of the torch on to the next generation is very important to Prakash. It is this notion that motivates his next project, setting up of a museum in Bangalore. And he has the perfect location and space as well. On his farm in Rajarajeswari Nagar, the doctor has something quite fascinating hidden away. Among the mango trees on the edge of the city lie a cluster of large sheds, each housing a part of his personal collection of vintage and classic cars, motorbikes and carriages. Over the years, the range of vehicles has grown to over 225 cars, 60 bikes and 20 carriages. A visit to his collection is a dream for any car enthusiast. His office is a museum itself with books on cars, car models, car ashtrays, vases, paperweights, posters and car photos.
“I want people to enjoy the collection for generations to come,” says Prakash. In addition to putting his vehicles on display, he is also allowing access to over 17,000 books, journals and magazines on cars. The museum will be run by a charitable foundation and when it opens in 2016, its profits will go towards treating victims of road accidents.
The realisation of the dream to set up a museum has been a family effort. This passion clearly runs in the family and Rupali hopes to use her young company Roadster as a medium and “keep the passion for these works of art alive both within me as well as everyone around.”
The grand Auto Show 2016
The museum will showcase Dr Prakash’s collection of 225 cars, 60 bikes and 20 carriages.
It will also provide access to 17,000 books and journals on cars.
It will be run by a charitable foundation and is expected to open by 2016. All profits will go towards treating victims of road accidents.