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Vintage cars mark HK return
Latest Updated by 2007-03-29 10:34:16
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A car rally featuring eight vintage automobiles, with the oldest dating back to 1918, stopped in Shenzhen for the night Tuesday before leaving for Shantou yesterday, the next stop on a fortnight-long journey along China's eastern coast.

The rally, which began in Hong Kong and will end in Beijing on April 10, was held to mark the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, said Zhang Song, a Beijing tour guide serving the team. Some 23 vintage car enthusiasts from the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Germany took part in the rally with the cars, which had been transported from various parts of the world.

Many cars were decorated with the Chinese national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong SAR.

Kurt Schneiders, a German who has worked in Hong Kong for the past 25 years, had his vintage American LaFrance, manufactured in 1918, flown to Hong Kong six days ago. He bought the car two years ago in England and sent it to Trarben-trarbach in Germany for repairs.

"I've been to many places on the mainland, but I've never really been there. Every time it was just a business trip where I went from the airport to a hotel, met the people as planned, got the business done and returned. This is a great event. I can drive along the sea coast, stop by 14 coastal cities before reaching Beijing," he said.

"I will take care of my car, enjoy the scenery, meet people and have fun," he said.

Schneiders, 54, said he would take part in another vintage car rally from Beijing to Paris after the ongoing rally concluded.

Like many other vintage car fans, he spent a lot more money repairing the car than buying it. He paid around US$53,000 for the car but the cost of repair was more than double, as there were no spare parts available and workers' wages are very high in Germany.

The six-engine American LaFrance, with 150 horsepower, can run at a maximum speed of 150 kmph, though there is no instrument to measure it. It resembles a tank in appearance.

Jim Taylor, who owns a company in Gloversville, New York, is a big motor fan with 90 cars in his collection. The Buick car he brought to this rally was made in 1941.

He said the most precious car in his collection is a Jaguar D type racecar, the model that won the Le Mans race in France three years in a row in the 1950s. "I bought that one for US$2.5 million. People bid a much higher price to buy it from me, but I wouldn't sell," he said.

James M. Rice, an American working in Shanghai, had his Rolls Royce sedan, made in 1952, shipped in from Los Angeles.

"Different from those who buy vintage cars as an investment or for collection, I bought it for daily use. I drove it when I was back in L.A. It's a very nice car, handmade and delicate. I will stop by Shanghai on the journey. Once my two children insist I take them to school in this car. In Shanghai, I normally drive an Audi," he said.

Editor: Yan

By: Li Dan Source: Szdaily web edition
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