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Classic combination

Frederica Elbourne
Saturday, January 12, 2013

CLASSIC cars have so much soul. So much so that prolific professional photographer Shiri Ram would rather live in one, than buy a house.

Ram, renowned for his distinguished and ingenious work in the internationally acclaimed best cookbook Me'a Kai, is the son of a taxi driver.

"Whenever he made long trips, he would always take me on the rides. My dad drove a Ford Falcon XB sedan which was a 1975 model," he said.

In keeping with tradition, Ram is now the proud owner of similar models, well, four to be precise - a Falcon XB sedan 1975, Falcon XA coupe 1972, Falcon XP sedan 1965 and a Morris Minor (1952).

"This Morris maybe is the oldest Morris Minor in the country. Sometimes I have jokingly told my friends I would rather own a car than a house because I can sleep in my car but my house won't take me places," he said.

Classic cars are uniquely designed when compared to modern cars which, according to Ram, seem to have very similar styling from brand to brand.

Ram, a multi award winner for print and television production is also the managing director of advertising and marketing company Art&Soul, and Living Pacific Magazine.

His fleet of vehicles - which include a Nissan Patrol and a Honda Accord Euro - is a living testament to his love of cars.

"I am very passionate about driving and if you look at my Patrol closely you will see evidence of this. I have been through farms, rivers, floods, steep mountain climbs - you name it," he said.

But everything pales in comparison to driving a classic car, he points out.

"I have driven my Chrysler Valiant and my Falcon XB to Pacific Harbour a few times and when you hit the road with it, it just touches all your senses. Nothing else matters.

"It's just you, the car and the road. I have done silly things like sing at the top of my voice when I drive these cars because it doesn't matter if I can't hold a tune. Nothing or nobody else exists at that point. The cars can take you places you have never been before.

"Not just in a physical destination sense but in mental state of mind kind of way," Ram said.

For this edition of Motoring, Ram decided to flaunt his Chrysler Valiant 1971 model - one which he long coveted and eventually bought off former high court judge Davendra Pathik.

"I had my eye on this car for a long time and at first he outright refused to sell it. But then I found out that he was selling it finally because he was migrating. He was offered a substantial amount of money at first but sold it to me for a lower price. Maybe this car was just destined to be mine," Ram said.

The four door sedan was built in 1970 but released as a 71 model.

"I love this ride," Ram said.

A very powerful ride, it boasts a three litre slant six engine.

"This car is the last car model that was fitted with the slant 6. Chrysler then moved on to the Hemi in-line six and this particular model was also released with the Hemi," Ram said.

Unique features of his Chrysler Valiant include the park lights and the indicator lights mounted on the top end of the fenders which are column shift automatic.

"The front seats are bench seats and can seat three people including the driver. It's a fairly large car and we joke sometimes about putting a mattress in the boot and sleeping comfortably. It is very spacious.

"One of the good things about this car is the suspension. When these cars were made, Australia still had a lot of dirt roads so the suspension was built to take the bumps," Ram said.

Barring a bit of work on the brakes and engine, the car remains in the same condition as when he bought it.

Full body work and repair to the car can be expected when finances permit, he said.

"The parts that I have brought in so far came from Australia and when I am ready to do the full body rebuilt everything will have to come from Australia. Parts are not cheap hence the delay in getting it done," Ram said.

Ultimately, the one car Ram would like to own is a 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe.

"There is simply no comparison to the Phantom," he said.

Last but not the least, Ram offers his advice to motorists saying the road does not belong to either motorist or pedestrian.

"You have to understand that the road doesn't belong to you. You are a part of a family that uses the road. You have to respect everyone that is on the road."

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