November 27, 2000 Issue

  The New Threat
Breast cancer is emerging as the most common form of cancer
among urban Indian women. But new treatments bring hope in an area of despair.


Victor's Cross
Re-election as party president was the least of Sonia's problems. She will have to balance coteries, and make difficult choices.


"It's like a re-birth"
Rajkumar is free, his fans are ecstatic but in the melee, the issue of Veerappan is forgotten.


Fifth Column
by Tavleen Singh
Comic Relief

by Jairam Ramesh
High-Yielding Politicians

    Politically Correct
by P. Chidambaram
Private Notes

    Right Angle
by Swapan Dasgupta
Restoring the Balance

by Dilip Bobb
The Coterie Watch

Other stories
  Temples of Doom  

Verse and Worse


Friends Forever



Fight the Draught




Auto Driven

Two brothers park coveted cars on the first floor of their farmhouse

By Stephen David

All the cars driven by the onscreen James Bonds-from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan-are here. So are others behind whose steering wheels have sat famous drivers. And more than 500 of them. If this sounds like a dream, it is. The Autofest City in Mysore-a museum of scale-model cars-is the dream that has come true for two brothers.

Nail (left) and Clyde hold replicas of 550 dream machines

The D'Costa brothers, Neil, 34, and Clyde, 29, have, over the years, managed to put together a collection of model cars that is the pride of the town. Tucked away on the first floor of their farmhouse, 10 km outside Mysore, the museum has 550 cars, all true to the smallest detail. The brothers have either imported the models or they were gifted by friends settled abroad.

Most of the cars are in scale 40, which means the real car is 40 times bigger. Others are scale 43, followed by 18. The replication leaves one astounded. A scale 12 model of a 1988 McLaren F1, for example, even sports the original leather upholstery. The section called the Nostalgia Cinema Series showcases pieces like the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biaritz driven by pop king Elvis Presley in one of his films. The 20-inch-long scale 12 model has a bonnet, boot and doors that open, a detailed painted engine, carpeted interiors, with a generous lashing of art-deco chrome. Marilyn Monroe's 1955 Cadillac convertible also graces the gathering, rubbing shoulders with a 1961 Rolls-Royce in which Roger Moore cruised as James Bond in View to a Kill.

"The idea is to have models of vehicles that have some place in motoring history," says Clyde, an English teacher. Neil, general manager of an indenting agency for highly purified metals, recalls the duo falling in love with cars, starting with the old Ambassador their father used to drive around Mumbai. After he passed away they and their mother Tessy moved to the farm on the outskirts of Mysore "to be away from the madding crowd". It was left to Tessy to buy the cars in the store windows that her sons mooned over.

The Effort's Been Worth It: The duo's interest flagged when they reached Mysore. But once they spotted 1:40 scale models of a Mercedes and a Ferrari in a store there, the passion revved up again. "We quickly got hold of complete sets of 1:40 and 1:43 miniatures from Maisto in China and BBurago in Italy," chuckles Neil. Within four years, the number in the collection increased to over 500.

Neatly organised on tabletops and rack displays, the miniatures are protected by handcrafted glass cases. Each has a label with information downloaded from the Net. The idea is to make their hobby informative for the layman. "These are not toys but collectibles," says Clyde seriously. The smaller models sit on a 16 ft-long, four-level display case, with street scenes crafted by Neil and Clyde as backdrops. Tessy, a self-taught artist, helped with the painting.

Visitors to the museum can also admire scale models of a clubhouse, a railway station and dealerships of Mercedes-Benz, Porshe, BMW, Ferrari and even the desi Ashok Leyland and Mahindra. There is a model of a bar called Tavern and a fire station with eight models of fire engines, apart from a full-fledged truck stop along the lines of truck stops abroad. And for the war-buffs there is the camouflaged Hummer-or the Humvee-that was used by the American Army during Operation Desert Storm.

As mothers are wont to, Tessy would rather that her sons think of more serious issues, like matrimony. "But they are so obsessed with these models I don't know when they will give me the good news," she laughs. On their part the brothers only have cars on their mind. "We wish the Central government would permit dedicated enthusiasts duty-free import of car miniatures," says Neil. It's quite clear the D'Costas read, think and speak automobiles. But because of them, visitors to the Autofest City can get to see cars-okay, scale models-they can otherwise never hope to come face to face with.



Home Run
Stage specialists The Company Theatre has been making life a lot easier for sluggish Mumbaikars by bringing plays right to their sofa sides.

Looking Glass

Mumbai: Music

Delhi: Art

Pune: Cafe


    Web Exclusives

The Indian industry has increased its decibel level of whining. Instead, it should get the government to deliver, says INDIA TODAY Associate Editor V. Shankar Aiyar in Au ContrAiyar.


A TV channel turns good Samaritan and helps trace missing NRIs in the Gulf. INDIA TODAY Principal Correspondent M.G. Radhakrishnan reports on its six-month successful run in


Full coverages
with columns, infographics, audio reports.

1971: The Untold Story
Veerappan Strikes Again
Mission Impossible
The SriLankan crisis
The Kashmir jigsaw
The Nepal Gameplan


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