Vintage cars

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa - The Philippine Star

When the government first decided to limit the use of vintage cars on the road to weekends or holidays, the howl of protest from owners was deafening enough that the Land Transportation Office (LTO) had to almost immediately rescind its issued administrative order.

That was in 2016, when the LTO’s retraction was accompanied by a promise to vintage car owners to conduct a more thorough consultation on the matter. Six years later, in April 15, 2022, the Vintage Vehicle Regulation Act (VVRA) lapsed into law, and almost exactly a year later, its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) was released.

This time around, everyone seems to be happy. The signing of the IRR, in fact, was a celebrated event, with a number of our lawmakers going up on stage. Most of them are likely vintage car owners or enthusiasts who can turn prickly when a heavy-handed government regulation becomes unfavorable to their hobbies. All’s well that ends well, so they say.

Our lawmakers seem to have managed to come up with a good law, and its IRR is a feather in the LTO’s cap. Let’s hope that other problems, like its new vehicle registration guidelines, are better managed. But that’s a subject for a future column.

While there are really a good number of local car enthusiasts who dote on genuine vintage cars that can be 40 years or older, Filipinos in general love their cars for sentimental reasons, especially one that had been their first buy. It’s not uncommon to see in garages a vehicle that’s more than two decades old, even if sometimes it needs a lot of repairs to get it running again.

Drive from the past

Here’s something interesting from the archives of the Philippine Star for vintage car enthusiasts, dated June 23, 2004  by Lester Dizon on 100 Years of Motoring in the Philippines. It’s a report on the June 12 Independence Day parade at Luneta Park during that year, where a number of vintage cars were included. Following are excerpts to enjoy.

“Car enthusiasts were … given a treat during the parade when the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), in celebrating the 100 years of motoring in the country with the LTO, featured historic icons of Philippine motoring in its parade contingent.

“A small and curious-looking car and its proud owner paraded before the grandstand on top of a flat bed tow truck immediately after the DOTC float and the marching band. The flatbed was necessary because of the car’s age and significance to our country’s history.

1904 Richard-Brasier

“After all, the 1904 Richard-Brasier roadster was supposedly the very first automobile in the Philippines. Built by Georges Richard and Henri Brasier, it still has its original nine hp two-cylinder engine. It was imported in 1904 into the country by the Jewish trading firm Estrella Del Norte and sold to the brothers Augusto and Demetrio Tuazon. The Tuazons later sold it to Señor Velasco, who eventually ended up selling it to a German national residing in the country before the war.

“During the Japanese occupation, the car was thrown down a ravine so it won’t be of any use to the occupying forces. The history of the car became unknown after WWII until it ended up in the custody of Señor Antonio de la Vega, a certified car enthusiast who headed the Soriano Corp. in Bislig Bay in Mindanao and was one of the founders of Paper Industries Corp. of the Philippines (PICOP).

“He embarked on a restoration of the Richard-Brasier in 1960 and work progressed slowly until his death a couple of years ago curtailed the restoration. A French restorer and a Japanese collector submitted bids to De la Vega’s widow and planned to take the car, out of the country.

“Ronald Reidenbach of the Vintage Car Club petitioned his club and the Manila Sports Car Club to acquire the car, and salvage a piece of the country’s motoring history.

“The Sytin family of the United Auctioneers fame funded the acquisition of the car, but the real restoration work was done by noted TV host and current owner Cito Beltran. He said that he restored the 100 year-old vintage car as part of his contribution to the country’s history and its motoring heritage.

1928 Ford Model A Tudor

“A 1928 Ford Model A Tudor sedan followed the 1904 Richard-Brasier. Driven under its own power by its proud owners, the husband-and-wife team of Romy and Julie Lupena, the 1928 Ford is the older running original car in the country.

“Its registration is current and the owner claims he drives the car every Sunday and that he has driven it to various car shows and had even gone to Baguio in it. Romy narrated how he likewise rescued the vehicle from the ravages of time and restored it to its current condition, refusing to succumb to modifications to make the car more modern and maintaining its original four-cylinder engine, six-volt electrical system and mechanically-actuated drum brakes.

1970 Beetle

“While the old Ford and the Brasier represented the Vintage Car Club of the Philippines, a more modern 1970 Volkswagen Beetle represented the Volkswagen Club of the Philippines. Owner and restorer Romy de Ramos proudly drove his yellow Beetle in the parade with VW club president Don Bondoc in the passenger seat.

“Romy’s VW is one of the finest examples of the popular ‘people’s car’ among the club’s large roster of members’ cars. Like the old Ford, the Beetle was restored to its original state and sees regular driving duties around the streets of Metro Manila.”

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Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at [email protected]. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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