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IN CONVERSATION WITH ALLAN ALMEIDA

— Jasmeen Dugal

Following a passion can go a long way. A mechanical engineer and off-roader, Allan Almeida won awards for all four cars he showcased at Cartier — Drive With Style at Rambagh Palace, Jaipur. The suave master craftsman has been restoring cars for long and vintage cars undergo a phenomenal transformation under his care. An insightful conversation with him as he returns to Mumbai, triumphant.

 

Allan- let's rewind a bit- when and how did you get interested in restoring classic cars?

 

My extreme love for cars brought me into this work. After sailing as an Engineer on ships, I got back to land and started working on drag racing cars, as speed has always been a passion. After a few years, I began building off-road cars and jeeps as the market was hot for them and off-roading in the wild is a stress buster. That's when I started working with Mr. Goenka to build his vast collection of Land Rovers. Since Mr. Goenka has one of the finest collection of vintage cars in the country, the bug bit me and since a few years I have been doing other work as well. It's been eight years that I've been restoring these beauties to their original glory and seeing them back on the road where they belong!

 

How did it all begin? Did you undergo formal training?

 

No formal training at all! I just learnt on the task under the watchful eye of Mr. Goenka. Being a mechanical engineer means I have an eye for detail in all things mechanical too!

 

What is the thought process when you take on a project to restore a vintage or classic car?

 

Once I get a new project, I sit and pen everything. Right from parts needed, to the metal work to be done, to the extent of mechanical work needed, the upholstery and the chrome. I go down to the minutest detail. Then I schedule the work based on expense and time and have it allotted to our respected teams. The restoration process is pretty simple actually. I start by stripping everything off. A complete disassembly. Then simultaneously the mechanicals and body works get done. Next is paint. Then we start the assembly  upholstery, chrome painting and finally the detailing.

 

What are the challenges you face while restoring and maintaining these cars?

 

Parts is always a challenge. These cars, being obsolete and so rare, parts are always a challenge and most of the times we end up fabricating them as they are impossible to source.

 

How many cars have you restored till date? And which cars are on your restoration list?

 

I have probably done around 80 to 100 cars, counting all the world war jeeps too. Now I am working on a variety of pre-war Rolls now that I need to complete as soon as possible.

 

How significant was it to showcase your cars at Cartier- Drive With Style? Do share some thoughts about this edition of the event.

 

This event is the finest in the country. And showcasing cars here is an honour for us. We are already looking forward to the next edition! This edition was perfect — lovely setting, wide variety of superb cars, perfect opportunity for me to showcase our creations! I'm thrilled we won awards for the fours cars we restored! Mr. Goenka's 1961 Thunderbird won Best in Class- thunderbird; Mr. Goenka's 1962 Mercedes w111 Cabrio won Best in Class- Post War European;1935 Alvis Speed 25 won Best In Class; Mr. Goenka's 1951 Vanguard Phase 1 Estate won the special Mark Shank Adventure Trophy.

 

Looking at the bigger picture- do you feel restoring classic cars is becoming a lost art?

 

Sadly it has, but I always encourage youngsters to get into the business if they have a passion for the subject. This field runs completely on passion and love for cars. If you don't have that, you will never flourish.
 

ALLAN ALMEIDA
 
ALLAN ALMEIDA
 
ALLAN ALMEIDA
 
ALLAN ALMEIDA
 
ALLAN ALMEIDA
 
27-FEBRUARY-2019
 
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