Tutu Dhawan: Trotting Through Vintage Cars

Published On  July 28, 2015 07:23 PM By Manish Kharinta at CarDekho.com

Tutu Dhawan is a National Champion, who raced in the Himalayan Rally ’85 and was the first Indian to finish fourth overall. Tutu managed to finish first in the category of LCV’s (Light Commercial Vehicles) in the Great Desert Himalaya Raid, which happens to be one of the most challenging rallies in the World, after the Paris-Dakkar rally. He has achieved a record timing in the competitive ‘LEH to SRINAGAR Via Kargil’ sections, which was covered by him in 5 hours and 13 minutes, covering a total distance of 440 km.    

With a sporting history like this, it was rather surprising that Tutu decided to venture in vintage car restorations. It is obvious that these cars are not known for getting from point A to B quickly. These cars are pieces of history and appeal to us because of their heritage. Driving around in a vintage car is about getting from point A to B in style. So at first glance, one wouldn’t peg Tutu as a successful car restorer, which is exactly the reason why he is so good at it.

Most of the vintage cars today, come across as functional-art, even though they barely function. The issue is that over the years, time has taken its toll not only on the body panels but also on the mechanical components of the car. Car-restorers use this as an excuse to ignore these mechanical components or to justify the shoddy repairs of the same and this is where Tutu’s experience in motor-sports, helps him distinguish himself.

Tutu has 48 years of experience in a business, which is all about automobiles. Recently, Tutu designed and developed a Morgan Roadster Replica, which was authenticated by Shahrukh Khan. This achievement is particularly astonishing as the carcase of this vehicle was found in the Tea Gardens of Assam. The car itself was half buried in the ground and needed to be rebuilt from scratch including the chassis. The mechanics of the car were given special attention and the engine now puts out 110 BHP. The authenticity was maintained by ensuring that the engine was sourced from either Triumph or Vauxhall, as they were Morgan’s engine suppliers back in the fifties. The car features a 2Lt. Vauxhall Engine that produces 110 bhp and modern Electronic Ignition systems. The car also borrows Twin SU Carburettors from a MGB.

Speaking of style, an MG-TC built by Tutu was invited to enter the Cartier Concourse d'Elegance Motor Show, under the Roadster category amongst marques like the Jaguar XK-140, which was also re-built by him. The MG-TC won the “Car of the Show” title because of its attention to detail.

Even the rebuilding of Jaguar XK-140 presented its unique challenges. These Jags from the sixties have a history of heating up, especially the ones that came to India because they were not modified to meet the challenges presented by our tropical weather. Tutu’s team researched and rectified the overheating issue and also managed to successfully mend the air-conditioning system so that it may withstand the traffic conditions of today. The car also received modern additions like Power braking system, Power Steering and Power windows. This made the car drive like a modern vehicle.

Another challenging project was the Volkswagen Beetle, which was found in a condition, where one could see through every single body panel. the car was stripped to its bare metal and was then completely re- built. After sandblasting, the body was phosphated, the team used materials to preserve the sheet metals from rusting & corrosion, ensuring that the body lasts generations.  The Beetle features an engine that was upgraded by incorporating 44mm twin Carburetors, 1800 CC Cylinder Heads with over-sized cylinders, Electric Fuel Pump, Electronic ignition System, a Free Flow Sports Exhaust, enhanced Hi-Volume (26mm) oil pump and a Dog-Box Oil Cooler that cuts the flow of preheated air to cylinders 3 and 4. The car also has an air conditioner and the condenser of the a/c unit is hidden away neatly under the front bumper. Special considerations were made in regards to the safety and a dual-braking 10” power-brake system was installed in the Beetle. This makes the car, one of the very rare Beetles to feature a power-braking system. To accommodate the wider hi-performance Spoke wheels, the body shell was widened by 5 inches in the track & correspondingly all the fenders were redone. Other luxuries like a music system were also added to the car.

These cars are those rare sights that one has to see to believe and upon seeing, one can't help but be mesmerized by their sheer beauty.

Image source: Web, Team BHP


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