How are cars affected when they are transported by ships like Hoegh Osaka?
The mv HOEGH OSAKA is one of hundreds of car-carriers making thousands of port calls every year, delivering three-wheelers to huge industrial and mining machines as well as what is known as ‘Roll on/ Roll off’ (RoRo) cargo all over the world. Life on these ships is not easy mainly because port stays are short; keeping the ships stable is very difficult and constant fatigue is a part of life.
I worked on a much smaller RoRo ship in the early 1980s, carrying Tata trucks and buses as well as Premier cars and a few fire-engines, once, from Bombay port to Sharjah and Kuwait. One thing, I know. The constant vibration, slamming, whipping, corkscrewing and general rock-and-roll in Indian Ocean / Arabian Sea monsoons was enough to give those cars and buses a lifetime of suspension-related issues. This is one reason I have stayed away from fully assembled cars brought by sea to India from abroad.
With luxury cars, from Jaguar and BMW, destined for India, HOEGH OSAKA now floats listed heavily off Southampton port. Some 3,000 tonnes of water, with hydraulic fluid mixed in it, has entered the ship and work is on to try to pump this out. There is bound to be damage to the vehicles on board which include Rolls Royce and other luxury brands.
In a similar case, in December 2002, the mv JAGUAR ACE, with 4,703 Mazda cars, tipped over in the Pacific Ocean and was eventually towed to safety. Mazda publicised the VIN numbers of the affected cars, so that they would not re-enter the market. After deactivating the air-bags in each car and draining out all oils, it scrapped those cars totally. Will Jaguar/ Land Rover, BMW, Rolls Royce and others do the same?
Forget Motor-sports. Have Fun with Vintage Cars
Motor-sports used to be fun and games until a few decades ago, when you took any old car lying around, jazzed up the engine, bolted on some safety features, and headed for the mountains or interiors to try your skill-sets against others who had similar intentions. The idea was to have fun; competition was restricted to on-road and risks were a part of the package.
Over the decades, motor-sports became ‘professional’, costs went up and competition moved off the roads; fun was the last thing on anybody’s mind as the rules and regulations became nastier. The idea was apparently to exclude anybody who chose to have fun, while the risks went up even further.
Accidents and deaths in motor-sports in India have not changed since these exclusionary rules were introduced. By ‘exclusionary’ I mean that there is a rule that says that if you take part in motor-sports events which are not part of the ‘calendar’, then you, your team—everything—is excluded from all ‘official’ motor-sports. Incidentally, the state of affairs with ‘official’ motor-sports in India is like the state of affairs with ‘official’ cricket or most other sports in India.
This is why vintage and classic car and bike rallies are so much more fun. For one, pretty much anything goes. You can even stick an old Ambassador or Premier engine in any old crock you want; do it up and have a blast for under a lakh of rupees. In addition, these buggies attract more smiles per miles and the parties afterwards make you feel like a rock-star.
The import of vintage and classic cars into India was never easier. And, once in India, as well as registered, the value mostly appreciates; so you have another good deal going. Think about it. Nothing beats an old car or bike as an investment. Time to dig out that old car or bike lying around forgotten somewhere and get to work on it.
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)